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The great UEFA Champions League comebacks

With FC Barcelona now the fifth side in UEFA Champions League history to overcome a first-leg deficit of two or more, UEFA.com recalls the four teams that went before them.

Biggest UEFA Champions League comebacks ©Getty Images

With their 4-0 victory against round of 16 opponents AC Milan in Spain on Tuesday, FC Barcelona became the fifth side in UEFA Champions League history to win a knockout tie after losing the first leg by two goals or more – and first to do so without the benefit of an away goal. As Arsenal FC attempt to climb a mountain of their own at FC Bayern München on Wednesday, UEFA.com looks back on the four other ties that offer them hope.

AC Milan 4-1 RC Deportivo La Coruña
RC Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan
2003/04 quarter-finals
Walter Pandiani put Deportivo in front at San Siro, but that was long forgotten by full time, with Kaká scoring twice as Milan shredded their opponents. Ahead of the return fixture at the Riazor, Depor coach Javier Irureta was hanging onto little more than a dream. "This is of course a very complex, difficult and challenging task," he said. "But in football miracles often happen, things you might not rationally expect."

Incredibly, his side were ahead on aggregate by half-time in north-west Spain, Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valerón and Alberto Luque making it 3-0 at the break, with substitute Fran González adding insult to injury with a fourth goal on 76 minutes. Irureta duly promised to take the pilgrim trail to Santiago de Compostela, having prayed for success. "It is worth going to Santiago after this victory," he said. "I will do the walk to Santiago because a promise is a promise."

Real Madrid CF 4-2 AS Monaco FC
AS Monaco FC 3-1 Real Madrid CF
2003/04 quarter-finals
Whatever fairy dust had taken unfancied Monaco as far as the quarter-finals seemed to have blown away by the time the final whistle sounded at the Santiago Bernabéu on 24 March 2004. A four-goal salvo from Madrid after the interval had sent the principality team into a tailspin, but Fernando Morientes's 83rd-minute goal for the visitors proved a lifeline. Coach Didier Deschamps was not about to admit defeat before the second leg, saying: "If I thought that, I'd be better off staying home."

A further goal down with seconds to go until half-time in the rematch, Deschamps might have been tempted to make it an early night but Ludovic Giuly levelled, Morientes – on loan from Madrid – headed a second and Giuly made it 3-1. The eventual away-goals victory might still have evaporated had Raúl González not fired a late chance over the bar. Morientes, meanwhile, was not sure whether to celebrate. "I'm very happy about Monaco's win of course," he said. "But I have friends in Madrid who must be going through a difficult time."

Chelsea FC 3-1 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea FC (aet)
1999/2000 quarter-finals
Pre-Roman Abramovich, Chelsea were not the European force they would become, and their first-leg victory over Louis van Gaal's Barcelona – secured by a Gianfranco Zola effort and two in four minutes from Tore André Flo – represented an improbable success for Gianluca Vialli's men. Indeed, they were within seven minutes of winning the tie when Flo struck again to bring the Camp Nou score back to 2-1, only for Dani García to take it to 3-1 on the night. Rivaldo's penalty and a Patrick Kluivert goal promptly killed the Blues off in extra time. Luís Figo concluded: "We played a perfect game that day."

"It was the most beautiful night of my life," said team-mate Gabri García. "We had a big setback but managed to turn things around," added Figo while a disappointed Vialli offered a mournful summary: "We did what we didn't want to do: defend negatively."

SSC Napoli 3-1 Chelsea FC

Chelsea FC 4-1 SSC Napoli (aet)
2011/12 round of 16
A change of manager provoked a startling comeback by Chelsea. André Villas-Boas's last European game with the Londoners ended in defeat in Naples; Juan Mata had given his team the initiative, but Ezequiel Lavezzi struck twice either side of an Edinson Cavani effort to leave the English club spiralling towards the exit. "There's a big possibility that, with this away goal, we can turn the tie around," Villas-Boas ventured afterwards.

The Portuguese, however, had been replaced by interim boss Roberto Di Matteo by the second leg, when goals from Didier Drogba, John Terry and Frank Lampard helped move the contest into extra time, Branislav Ivanović completing the Lazarus act after 105 minutes. "I've had some great nights but this will probably go down in club history," said Di Matteo, little knowing that an even greater triumph in adversity was to follow.