Classic Europa League and UEFA Cup comebacks

Borussia Mönchengladbach made headlines on Thursday by fighting back from 2-0 down on the night and 3-0 behind on aggregate to claim a remarkable 4-2 victory at Fiorentina – captain Lars Stindl contributing a 12-minute hat-trick. Andreas Christensen scored the fourth goal to secure a 4-3 aggregate triumph, stunning home fans at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.
He also added Mönchengladbach’s name to a long list of teams who have defied daunting deficits in the UEFA Europa League/UEFA Cup – and looks back at some of the most memorable.

Shelbourne 3-5 Rangers, UEFA Cup first qualifying round first leg, 22 July 1998Dick Advocaat’s first game as Rangers manager veered from disaster to delight as the visitors recovered from a shaky start against their unfancied Irish opponents. Just seven minutes were gone when Sergio Porrini put the ball in his own net, and it was 3-0 for Shelbourne close to the hour, when Advocaat’s expensively assembed side finally responded. Jörg Albertz buried the first of two penalties and substitute Gabriel Amato struck twice himself, with Giovanni van Bronckhorst also fuelling the comeback. Rangers won the second leg 2-0.
Basel 2-3 Spartak, UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg, 17 February 2011St. Jakob-Park is known as one of the hardest venues to visit in European football and Spartak were certainly finding the going tough after Alexander Frei and Marco Streller had given the hosts a healthy 2-0 first-half cushion. However, Dmitri Kombarov reduced the arrears on 61 minutes and Artem Dzyuba soon brought the scores level, before Xherdan Shaqiri saw red for Basel. Teenage substitute Jano Ananidze then arrowed in a last-ditch winner, and Spartak built on their remarkable success with a 1-1 draw in the return.

Ryan Donk hit Club Brugge’s late winner©Getty Images
Maribor 3-4 Club Brugge, UEFA Europa League group stage, 30 November 2011Zenit’s recent Lazarus act (see below) was almost a carbon copy of Club Brugge’s unforgettable success against Maribor five years earlier. While the Slovene team’s third goal came on 51 minutes, it took another 23 minutes for Club Brugge to muster their opening retort. That, though, was the cue for another three goals, including a late clincher from Brugge’s Ryan Donk which left Christoph Daum full of praise for his side. “I never doubted my players,” said the coach. “To turn round a three-goal deficit and win is much more satisfying than just winning 3-0.”
Odd 3-4 Dortmund, UEFA Europa League play-off first leg, 20 August 2015Dortmund may have expected limited resistance from their Norwegian opponents as they eyed up a group stage spot, yet that notion was put to bed emphatically with 22 minutes gone. “It was a disaster at the beginning, like a bad joke,” said Mats Hummels, part of a defence that conceded three times early on before two-goal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shinji Kagawa and Henrikh Mkhitaryan turned things around. “The spirit the team showed was extraordinary,” added BVB boss Thomas Tuchel, whose charges promptly won the second leg 7-2.

Jürgen Klopp reacts to Liverpool’s Dortmund win©Getty Images
Liverpool 4-3 Dortmund, quarter-final second leg, 14 April 2016Seven months later, the boot was on the other foot as Dortmund crashed out of the competition despite a blistering start at Anfield in the wake of a 1-1 first-leg draw. Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang both struck inside nine minutes, and although Divock Origi restored local hopes after half-time, Marco Reus soon made it 3-1. The final nail in Liverpool’s coffin? Far from it, as Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho restored parity ahead of Dejan Lovren’s stoppage-time header. “It was pretty cool to watch,” enthused Reds manager – and ex-BVB chief – Jürgen Klopp.
Maccabi Tel Aviv 3-4 Zenit, group stage, 15 September 2016This season’s competition had already seen one sensational comeback, Zenit moving from 3-0 down to 4-3 up in the last 14 minutes in Israel. Two Haris Medunjanin goals and one from Vidar Orn Kjartansson had Maccabi 3-0 to the good on 70 minutes. However, Aleksandr Kokorin’s scrambled 77th-minute finish gave Zenit a chance, and the subsequent dismissal of Eli Dasa was immediately followed by substitute Maurício cutting the gap further. Giuliano then smashed in an equaliser at 3-3, on 86 minutes, with the best still to come as replacement Luka Djordjević hit an added-time winner with a diving header. “I’ve never been involved in such a game in my career and my career is very long!” said coach Mircea Lucescu after his first European match in charge of Zenit.

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