The Most Incredible Sporting Comebacks You May Not Have Seen
The first three months of 2017 have already produced two of the most incredible comebacks in sporting history. In February, the New England Patriots recovered from a 25-point deficit in the third quarter to famously defeat the Atlanta Falcons in the overtime of the NFL’s Super Bowl LI.
Only a few weeks later, halfway around the globe, Spanish football champions Barcelona managed to overturn a 0-4 first-leg defeat to Paris Saint-Germain to win 6-1 (6-5 on aggregate) in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League match-up, in one of the sport’s greatest ever recoveries.
The outpouring of emotion, both in the stands and on the field, that follow such turnarounds embodies what it means to be a sports fan – perhaps even human. Today, we’re taking a look back at two of the most incredible sporting comeback moments that you may not have heard of, and in turn, perhaps get a closer glimpse into the human condition.
ECL: Liverpool stage stunning second-half fightback (2005)
Although Barcelona produced the finest comeback in Champions League history, at least on paper, in their aforementioned defeat of PSG, the competition has provided a number of memorable moments over the years. Perhaps the greatest of these came in the prestigious tournament’s 2005 final, held at the Atatürk Stadium in Istanbul.
Reigning Serie A champions AC Milan came into the contest against Liverpool as heavy favorites, and sure enough, the Italian giants led 3-0 at the break, with Paolo Maldini and Hernan Crespo (twice) finding the back of Jerzy Dudek’s net. For all intents and purposes, it looked as though Milan were set to claim the coveted trophy for the second time in three years.
However, Liverpool must have received the half-time talk of their lives from coach Rafa Benitez, with skipper Steven Gerrard proving inspirational in the second period as Liverpool scored three times in one of the most dramatic six-minute spells in footballing history. Gerrard himself opened Liverpool’s account, which was followed by a stunning long-range effort from Vladimír Šmicer; Xabi Alonso completed the Reds’ comeback on 60 minutes.
With the scores deadlocked at 3-3 after extra time, a dramatic penalty shootout would determine the new European champions. After uncharacteristic misses from Pirlo and Serginho, Dudek knew that a save from Milan veteran Andriy Shevchenko would clinch the glory for Liverpool. Sure enough, despite being sent the wrong way, the Polish goalkeeper managed to turn away the striker’s effort with his left hand, cementing his place as a Kop hero.
Grand National: Red Rum makes up 30 lengths (1973)
The Grand National is the most well-known steeplechase in the world, and the horse racing event is so popular in the UK that it is ingrained in the very fabric of British culture. The event is now as much a social occasion as it is a sporting contest, with the Aintree stands playing host to corporate days out, would-be socialites and aspiring fashionistas alongside, of course, the bettors.
The majority of betting operators see a booming business during the event and will offer special promotions tailored to the 4-mile, 514-yard race. For example, if you use Sportsbet, a bookie that accepts bets in Bitcoin, you can get some of the stake back that you place on your first three bets. In 1973, back when the National was still a showpiece event in the British sporting calendar but before it became quite the cultural phenomenon it is today, two contenders entered the race as 9/1 joint-favourites: Red Rum and Crisp.
Early in the race, the Richard Pitman-ridden Crisp had opened up a huge lead, and following the fall of nearest challenger Grey Sombrero at The Chair – the circuit’s highest fence – had opened up a 33-length lead over the chasing pack. While rider Brian Fletcher kicked Red Rum hard at the halfway point, Crisp still had a 15-length lead over his rival heading into the 30th and final fence.
In one of the most dramatic final sequences in sporting history, Red Rum caught Crisp merely two yards from the finishing post, seeing off Pitman’s steed by three-quarters of a length and achieving the first of his three Grand National victories.
Which sporting comebacks stand out in your memory? Let us know on Twitter, @Memolitioncom.