The 5 Greatest Moments in Champions League History

These are the legendary competition's most glorious moments

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Lionel Messi after the epic comeback against PSG / Pau Berenna/Getty Images

The Champions League has produced some of the most amazing moments in football history. Each and every year we are blessed with matches that are out of the ordinary, with fans experiencing triumph as well as heartache. These are our top five iconic moments from the tournament.

5. Zidane’s Strike

In the 2002 Champions League final, Real Madrid defeated Bayer Leverkusen 2-1. It wasn’t the most entertaining match, but it’s during this type of match where madness comes out of nowhere. At the close of the first half, Zinedine Zidane produced a moment of magic when he hit a left-footed volley in the top corner. This goal has since been viewed as the greatest ever in the competition.

4. Barcelona Comes Back from the Brink

In 2017, Barcelona had lost 4-0 in the first leg of the round of 16 in the Champions League. It was a disappointing performance by Barcelona, and Paris Saint-Germain was surely in control of the tie heading into the second leg. Barcelona would need to score four goals and hope that PSG didn’t score, as Barcelona did not get an away goal.

In the first three minutes of the second leg, Luis Suárez put Barcelona 1-0 up (4-1 on aggregate). Barcelona then scored again in the 40th minute to make it 2-0 (4-2). In the 50th minute, Lionel Messi scored a penalty kick to make the match 3-0 (4-3 on aggregate). Barcelona was pressing and really pushing to make this comeback a reality. But in the 62ndminute, Edinson Cavani scored for PSG, almost certainly ending the match. It was 5-3 on aggregate, and Barcelona would need to score three goals to advance.  

Then the unthinkable happened. Neymar scored twice—in the 88th minute and a penalty in the 91st minute—to make it 5-5 on aggregate, but PSG would advance with this score line as they scored that crucial away goal. However, in the 95th minute, Sergi Roberto came out of nowhere to score a volley that would create madness in the stadium. A small earthquake actually erupted within the area of the stadium, and it was the greatest comeback pulled off in Champions League knockout-stage history.

3. Manchester United vs. Bayern 1999

The 1999 Champions League final is one of the most iconic moments in Manchester United history. After being down 1-0 throughout the entire match, strikers Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored two goals in the 90th minute to come back and win in the most dramatic fashion. To top it all off, four of the starting 11 were from the class of ’92, a group of academy players who played from the youth level all the way to the first team of Manchester United. These players included David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and Paul Scholes.

2. Cristiano Ronaldo’s Bicycle and Standing O

Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly one of the greatest Champions League players of all time. He has scored a whopping 124 goals in the competition. He also has the most goals scored in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals (41).

Who comes in second? You guessed it, Messi is a distant second with 16 goals. These two are easily the best players of all time. In regard of the actual goal itself, Ronaldo scored a bicycle kick to give Real Madrid a 2-0 lead in the 64th minute. It was an insane display of timing, physical strength and acrobatics. Even Real Madrid boss Zidane, who scored one of the most iconic goals in Champions League history, was stunned.

The best part came right after Ronaldo celebrated, as the whole Juventus stadium gave him a standing ovation. Ronaldo admitted after the match that he was grateful for that moment and that it had never happened to him in his career. What’s interesting is that months later, after Ronaldo went on to win the Champions League final, he joined Juventus in the following summer transfer window. See, guys? Be nice and good things will happen!

1. Liverpool’s Incredible Comeback

This match is regarded as one of the best comebacks in soccer history. In this matchup in the 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan was leading 3-0 at the half. They were so dominant that the match seemed to be over. Liverpool looked jaded and shook by what had just happened.  

But after the break, Liverpool came alive. As the traveling Liverpool fans fired up their team, the comeback began. Steven Gerrard, one of Liverpool’s most iconic midfielders and arguably greatest player, started the comeback that would shock the soccer world. VladimírSmicer then scored a second from outside the box to make it 3-2. Finally, in the 60th minute of play, Gerrard drew a foul from Milan midfielder (and current manager) Gennaro Gattuso to allow Spanish playmaker Xabi Alonso to tie the match. The match ultimately went to penalties and Liverpool won.

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