Sporting comebacks are dramatic, ecstatic, and exasperating. It’s impossible to say just how many there have been across all sports, but it’s possible to pick out some of the finest ones.
From Liverpool in the Champions League to England’s World Cup Cricket win, these are some of the wildest, against the odds comebacks in sporting history.
Recommended reading: Best fantasy football tips for 2019 – How to maximise your points
Liverpool’s Champions League comeback against Barcelona
Liverpool are known for their big European nights – there’s Rome (1977 and 1984), Wembley (1978), Paris (1981), and the Miracle of Istanbul (2005).
The Miracle of Istanbul is renowned as one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
However, while it’ll always be remembered as a great occasion, it’s no longer Liverpool’s finest night for overturning the odds. That’s now Anfield (2019), where they destroyed Barcelona.
In 2019, Liverpool had made it to the semi-finals of the Champions League for the second year in a row. The previous season pitted Liverpool against Roma.
The Reds made it through to the final with a 7-6 aggregate win. Liverpool would lose that final 3-1 to Real Madrid, meaning they had unfinished business when they took on Barcelona in 2019.
The first leg at the Camp Nou couldn’t have gone worse. Liverpool were the better team, overrunning Barcelona for large parts of the game. But Messi, oh Messi… Lionel made the difference and gave Barcelona a near-insurmountable 3-0 lead to take to England.
But Liverpool had other ideas and produced Anfield’s finest European night in the return leg.
Liverpool pressed, harried, and bulldozed Barcelona into submission. But it wasn’t all blood and thunder. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quick-thinking created one of the finest set-piece goals you’ll ever see.
The 4-0 result was one of the greatest comebacks in history. It was a performance so impressive that Liverpool began the 2019 Champions League Final as odds on favourites. They duly obliged, beating Spurs 2-0.
Boston Red Sox’s ALCS comeback against New York Yankees
For sports fans living on the other side of the pond, your first introduction may have come from Good Will Hunting – certainly, it was mine. During the film, Robin Williams’ character, Sean Maguire, explains that he missed game six of the 1975 World Series because he had to “go see about a girl.”
Despite Williams being a San Francisco Giants fan in the film, there’s little doubt he would have enjoyed seeing the Boston Red Sox’s ALCS 2004 comeback against the New York Yankees.
The Red Sox are believed to be cursed by the New York Yankees, ever since they gave the Yankees the greatest ballplayer in history – Babe Ruth.
It looked like the curse was still in place when the series started. The Yankees won the first three games with an aggregate scoreline of 32-16. To make matters worse, game three saw the Red Sox annihilated 19-8 at Fenway Park. But Red Sox’s comeback began in game four.
The Red Sox began with a narrow 6-4 win at Fenway Park, before an even narrower one (5-4) at their home. They carried on that form when they visited Yankee Stadium, winning game six 4-2. That set up a tantalizing final game at the Yankee’s home.
The Red Sox team got together the night before match seven and watched Miracle, a docu-film that chronicles the American men’s 1980 Olympic gold-winning hockey team.
Clearly the tactic worked – the Red Sox smashed the Yankees 10-3, completing one of the most remarkable comebacks in sporting history.
England’s Cricket World Cup comeback against New Zealand
There’s something special about a home soil sporting victory, it has a unique capacity for uniting a nation, bringing them together to celebrate as one.
In football, England has for this — winning the 1966 World Cup and getting to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 1996 (football didn’t come home).
The 2019 Cricket World Cup is perhaps the greatest example of a home soil sporting victory. Why? Because it produced a final with one of the most dramatic comebacks in the history of the sport.
England went into the tournament as favourites, due to their ranking and the home advantage. New Zealand also began the tournament hotly tipped, due to finishing as runners-up in the previous Cricket World Cup final.
The two nations then performed admirably to get to the final, despite a couple of upsets. But it’s not this that makes the comeback win so special, it was the nature of how England overcame New Zealand on the day.
New Zealand gave England a total of 241 runs to chase down. The home side got to the final wicket and needed 15 to win, or 14 to draw.
Ben Stokes controversially scored a 6 after a fielder’s throw deflected off his bat when returning for a second run. England ended the final over level on 241, sending the game into a Super Over.
During the Super Over, England batted first. They managed 15 runs, meaning the Kiwi’s needed 16 to win. It went down to the final delivery, with New Zealand needing 2 runs to claim the cricket World Cup.
The final ball was hit by Martin Guptill. New Zealand got the 1st run, but Jason Roy collected the ball and threw it back towards the stumps. England’s wicket-keeper, Jos Buttler, caught the ball and Guptill was run out.
The Super Over ended 15-15, meaning that England won the cricket World Cup due to their higher boundary count during the match, ending one of the most insane, against the odds comebacks in the history of sports.
Sport has a history of producing great comebacks and there are countless other great examples you can find. Man Utd winning the Champions League (“and Solskjær has won it”), or Muhammad Ali beating George Foreman.