How the mighty are fallen: Europe's top cup shocks

"A disgrace," was José Mourinho's assessment of Chelsea FC's cup exit to Bradford City AFC; picks out the great humiliations in Europe's knockout competitions.

Bradford celebrate a goal during their shock FA Cup victory against Chelsea
Bradford celebrate a goal during their shock FA Cup victory against Chelsea ©Getty Images

Chelsea FC went from 2-0 up to lose 4-2 at home to third-tier Bradford City AFC in the FA Cup at the weekend, a result being trumpeted as the greatest cup shock in English history.'s team of correspondents remember their biggest clubs' most notable cup humiliations.

"It's a disgrace for a big team to lose to a small team from a lower league," said José Mourinho, making absolutely no excuse for league leaders' Chelsea's amazing defeat by Bradford — who were 2-0 down after 38 minutes at Stamford Bridge. It was the first time that any Mourinho side had conceded four goals at home, and Bradford boss Phil Parkinson was overjoyed. "What they've done today will be remembered for a very long time – not just in Bradford but all around the country," he said. "Playing the league leaders and one of the best teams in Europe and scoring four goals – that's going to take some beating."

Alcorcón coach Juan Antonio Anquela
Alcorcón coach Juan Antonio Anquela©Getty Images

"This was shameful," said a stunned Manuel Pellegrini after his Real Madrid CF were beaten 4-0 at third-tier AD Alcorcón in a Copa del Rey match on 27 October 2009, now commonly referred to as the 'Alcorconazo'. "We couldn't have played worse," noted striker Raúl González, with a 1-0 win in the return leg doing little to spare his side's blushes. "We had so much respect for Madrid," remembered Alcorcón’s captain Rubén Sanz, still at the club today. Madrid's humiliation eclipsed FC Barcelona's 2006/07 semi-final loss to Getafe CF as Spain's biggest cup upset; Getafe had lost the first leg of that tie 5-2, turning things around with a 4-0 home win.

As far as German Cup shocks go, FC Bayern München's 1-0 loss to third-tier amateurs FV 09 Weinheim in 1990/91 remains unforgettable, with Jupp Heynckes' side – packed with players who had won the 1990 FIFA World Cup a few weeks earlier – brought low by a 28th-minute penalty scored by Thomas Schwechheimer, later outed as a chain smoker by a top German tabloid. Schwechheimer was invited to be a guest on Germany's top TV football show that night, but reportedly replied: "Stick that, I am going drinking with my buddies." His coach, however, forced him to change his mind.

Serie C AS Bari eliminated reigning league and cup champions Juventus 4-3 on aggregate in the 1983/84 round of 16 – a massive achievement given that Giovanni Trapattoni's Juve were also UEFA Cup Winners' Cup holders, and featured five of Italy's 1982 FIFA World Cup winners. Having won the away leg 2-1, Bari drew 2-2 at home thanks to Antonio Lopez's added-time penalty. "In Turin, I think that Zoff & Co. underestimated us," said Bari coach Bruno Bolchi. "We knew that was the main reason we won so we expected another mission impossible in the return leg. However, we gave absolutely everything and qualified with a draw. That win almost eclipsed our promotion to Serie B that season."

Fourth-division Grenoble Foot 38 twice came from behind to eliminate Ligue 1 leaders Olympique de Marseille in this season's Coupe de France; in some nations it would be a scandal, but cup upsets are something of an occupational hazard for big sides in France. Under competition regulations, Ligue 1 teams must play away if they are drawn against sides from two or more tiers below them when they enter the competition in January, a system which helped amateurs Calais RUFC and US Quevilly make it all the way to the final in 2000 and 2012 respectively.

Jesualdo Ferreira
Jesualdo Ferreira©Getty Images

Jesualdo Ferreira has an unfortunate reputation for cup shocks; his SL Benfica side lost out 1-0 at home to third-division SC Gondomar in the third round in 2002/03 – a result that cost the coach his job the following day. "I still can't forget Gondomar," the club's then-captain João Manuel Pinto said recently. "Those kind of results stay with you." Ferreira's FC Porto were Portuguese Cup holders when they bowed out with a 1-0 home loss to another third-flight side, Atlético Club de Portugal, in the 2006/07 fourth round. "We are ashamed," the coach said afterwards, though he atoned by starting a run of three consecutive league title successes that season.

From the rest of Europe ...

FC Ripensia Timișoara took on FC Universitatea Cluj in the 2013/14 Romanian Cup round of 32 in a repeat of the first final from 1934, which Ripensia had won 5-0. To everyone's shock, Ripensia beat top-tier Universitatea 2-1, becoming the first fifth-tier side to make it to the last 16.

GNK Dinamo Zagreb – then playing as Croatia Zagreb – reached the UEFA Champions League group stage and won the league title in 1998/99, but star players Robert Prosinečki and Igor Bišćan may remember that campaign as much for their 3-2 first round cup exit to fourth division NK Dugo Selo.

Brøndby IF – featuring future Manchester United FC goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel – were beaten by fifth-tier Skagen IK in the Danish Cup in 1986/87.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC's defeat of John Barnes' Celtic FC in February 2000 prompted an infamous headline: 'Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic are Atrocious'. More humiliating, perhaps, than Rangers FC's January 1967 exit to Berwick Rangers FC, remembered by Light Blues captain John Greig as "probably the worst result in the history of our club."

FC Sopron beat the country's most successful club Ferencvárosi TC 5-1 in the 2005 Hungarian Cup final, which featured four red cards – three for the losers. Sopron coach Attila Pintér had won a league and cup double for Ferencváros the previous season.