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Down but not out: great Europa League comebacks

Published: Monday 11 May 2015, 9.06CET
Needing to bounce back from their 3-0 defeat at Sevilla FC, ACF Fiorentina can take inspiration from the teams that have recovered similiar deficits – and worse.

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Published: Monday 11 May 2015, 9.06CET

Down but not out: great Europa League comebacks

Needing to bounce back from their 3-0 defeat at Sevilla FC, ACF Fiorentina can take inspiration from the teams that have recovered similiar deficits – and worse.

Things look bleak for ACF Fiorentina after they lost the first leg of their UEFA Europa League semi-final 3-0 at Sevilla FC. However, as UEFA.com discovers, a fightback of such proportions has been done before in this competition.

2013/14 quarter-finals
FC Basel 1893 3-0 0-5 aet Valencia CF
Valentin Stocker's stoppage-time goal in the first leg appeared to have driven the final nail into Valencia's coffin but in a barnstorming atmosphere the Mestalla witnessed a famous recovery. Juan Antonio Pizzi's team took to the task with gusto, a couple of Paco Alcácer strikes and an Eduardo Vargas effort sending the tie to extra time.

Basel crumbled amid the fervour. Marcelo Díaz and Gastón Sauro were sent off before Alcácer completed his treble and Juan Bernat added a fifth. If there was a roof it would have been lifted clean off. "We knew it was important to score at least once in the first half, and luckily the second came just after the first," said Bernat. "It was a dream match and we dedicate this win to all our fans – they deserve it."

The 1988 UEFA Cup final highlights

1987/88 final
RCD Espanyol 3-0 0-3 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
(Leverkusen win 3-2 on penalties)
The presence of two first-time European finalists had suggested a tight affair, but Espanyol looked like running away with the two-legged showpiece when they racked up a 3-0 first-leg win in Spain. Still three to the good at half-time of the return match, Javier Clemente's men had one hand on the trophy. Leverkusen had not read the script, however.

Milton Tita, Falko Götz and Cha Bum-kun all scored in 25 frantic second-half minutes to force extra time and ultimately spot kicks. Again Espanyol went in front, 2-0, but keeper Rüdiger Vollborn then made three successive stops to earn a remarkable triumph. "I'm completely overwhelmed," said Bayer coach Erich Ribbeck. "I think it was fate that this happened in a penalty shoot-out. Now we are in heaven."

1987/88 third round
Budapest Honvéd FC 5-2 1-5 Panathinaikos FC
Panathinaikos were on a high after eliminating Juventus to reach the third round but three weeks after their heroics in Turin they were caught cold in Budapest. Honvéd cruised into a 5-0 lead inside 63 minutes, with Kálmán Kovács scoring four. Dimitris Saravakos grabbed two consolations – a fortnight later they proved crucial.

Some 75,000 supporters filled the Olympic Stadium in Athens hoping for a miracle and they were rewarded. Panathinaikos had wiped out the first-leg deficit by the 55th minute. József Fitos pulled one back to revive Honvéd, only for Kostas Mavridis and Kostas Batsinilas to seal the comeback and leave the crowd in raptures.

©Getty Images

1985/86 third round
VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach 5-1 0-4 Real Madrid CF
(Madrid win on away goals)
Beaten in sub-zero temperatures a fortnight before, Madrid's second-leg assignment against Jupp Heynckes's Gladbach was made all the more challenging by the absence of suspended trio Hugo Sánchez, Rafael Gordillo and Chendo as well as the injured Manuel Sanchís. Jorge Valdano got them off to a fine start, though, netting twice inside 18 minutes.

The Merengues' fightback had seemingly run out of steam with a quarter of an hour remaining but Santillana had other ideas, further reducing the arrears before scoring an 89th-minute clincher. "I have played in two World Cups and won titles with Madrid but tonight's comeback was immense," said Madrid forward Juanito. "This is the happiest night of my life." The Spanish outfit went on to beat 1. FC Köln in the final.

©Bob Thomas/Getty Images

1984/85 second round
Queens Park Rangers FC 6-2 0-4 FK Partizan
(Partizan win on away goals)
Playing at Arsenal FC's Highbury rather than Loftus Road, QPR took seamlessly to the less familiar surroundings, winning 6-2 despite being 2-1 behind at one stage and down to ten men following Warren Neill's dismissal. Even so, it proved a chastening sequel in Belgrade for the west London outfit and manager Alan Mullery, who 16 years earlier had become the first England international to be sent off – against Yugoslavia.

Partizan midfielder Zvonko Živković set one up and slotted the decisive fourth having returned from military service only three days before. "After a long period out of football I was in front of 50,000 fans," he said. "We all felt the emotion and believed that together we could go through. As a team and a club we created something amazing. That match was a defining moment in our careers."

©Getty Images

René Vandereycken

1975/76 second round
Ipswich Town FC 3-0 0-4 Club Brugge KV
"It will be a miracle for us to score four times without Ipswich scoring," said Club Brugge defender Georges Leekens after the first leg. Well, miracles do happen. The Belgian heavyweights were level by half-time after strikes from Raoul Lambert, Daniël De Cubber and Ulrik Le Fèvre. Ernst Happel's troops were in the ascendancy but had to wait until two minutes from time to grab the winner.

Another future Belgium boss (like Leekens), René Vandereycken headed in Le Fèvre's cross to break Ipswich hearts and cap what Lambert called one of the most memorable encounters of his career. He said: "Our best match was the final at Anfield against Liverpool, but our home game against Ipswich was certainly the most spectacular."

Last updated: 09/06/15 1.30CET

Related information

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http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/news/newsid=1920637.html#down+out+great+europa+league+comebacks

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