We continue 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling by looking back on some of the most memorable saves in UEFA Champions League history.
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One moment of breathtaking agility, lightning-quick reflexes or strong wrists from a goalkeeper can be the difference between progress or elimination at the top level.
As we mark 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling, we ask you which of these six saves most left the opposition open-mouthed and deserves to be named the best in UEFA Champions League history?
Over the course of 2021/22, UEFA is asking fans to vote for the most iconic moments since the rebranding of the European Cup in the early 1990s. Hence, 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling will give fans an opportunity to vote on everything from goals to memorable celebrations, unforgettable comebacks, sensational skills and impossible saves.
Coupet's header and recovery
Barcelona 2-0 Lyon
10/10/2001, group stage
Facing Barcelona's attacking riches at the Camp Nou is a stern enough challenge without having to worry about threats to your goal from your own players. Grégory Coupet encountered precisely that unexpected situation when Cláudio Caçapa's lobbed back pass left the Lyon No1 scampering back towards his own goal with Rivaldo in hot pursuit.
Quickly realising he could not use his hands, Coupet flew through the air to make a diving header only to see his unorthodox solution send the ball crashing against the bar. The 28-year-old then turned to see Rivaldo leaping to head in the rebound yet somehow flung himself low to his right to paw away the Brazilian's follow-up. Invention and brilliance rolled into one.
Dudek's history-making stops
AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (aet, Liverpool win 3-2 on pens)
Liverpool's famous shoot-out victory would never have happened were it not for Jerzy Dudek's double save from Andriy Shevchenko deep into extra time. The Polish custodian's initial invention from a powerful downward header seemed in vain as the rebound fell invitingly for the Ukrainian with Dudek grounded, and yet he somehow reacted enough to deflect the point-blank follow-up over.
"I was on my knees – the odds were stacked against me," recalled Dudek. "In that split-second, I instinctively raised my hands up. It was a pure impulse. I almost screamed 'here I am, aim at me!'. Had the ball hit the net then our dream would have been over. I've seen the replays many times since and the expression on my face says: 'That was impossible.'"
Oblak's three-pronged resistance
Atlético 0-0 Leverkusen
15/03/2017, round of 16 second leg
Diego Simeone's men have always had a reputation for defensive stability but Jan Oblak's trio of saves against Leverkusen were a cut above even their usual high standards. Having stood tall to block Julian Brant's strike, the Slovenian then thrust himself first left then right to twice deny Kevin Volland in quick succession and maintain his clean sheet.
"These are things that happen – sometimes you save three efforts and other times they score all three," he told UEFA.com. "It's something that's hard to explain. I just saw the ball and went to make the saves with everything I had. Today everything went right for me and hopefully it continues to." It has – Oblak is still Atlético's No1 and remains one of the world's elite keepers nearly five later.
Ter Stegen's strong arm and scramble
Bayern 3-2 Barcelona
12/05/2015, semi-final second leg
When the Blaugrana look back at their path to European glory in 2015, Marc-André ter Stegen's heroics at the Fußball Arena München cannot be overlooked. Luis Enrique's side were in control of this semi-final but wary of Bayern's bite and ability to mount a rousing comeback in front of their own fans. The German glovesman's reactions late in the first half ensured a turnaround did not happen.
One on one with Robert Lewandowski and falling the wrong way, Ter Stegen appeared helpless. However, he stuck out a hand to half-block the shot, then raced back towards his net to quickly swipe the loose ball away from his goal line. Bayern's blitz did materialise but the deficit was too great thanks to Ter Stegen's exploits.
Neuer's close-range claw
Arsenal 2-0 Bayern
20/10/2015, group stage
Five months later, it was Bayern's turn to be wowed by some goalkeeping genius as stalwart Manuel Neuer came to their rescue against an Arsenal team desperate to get their campaign back on track in London. The Gunners realised they would be playing the long game in search of three points after the custodian's stand-out moment in the 33rd minute.
Theo Walcott was odds-on to bury his header from close range following a pinpoint cross from Nacho Monreal but Neuer unbelievably strained his fingers to drag the ball away from goal. "I thought we had scored," said Arsenal keeper Petr Čech. "I saw the header, I thought it was in and suddenly the ball bounced back. It was an unbelievable save. He kept them in the game."
Kahn's three-card shoot-out trick
Bayern 1-1 Valencia (aet, Bayern win 5-4 on pens)
Still haunted by their last-gasp loss to Manchester United two years earlier, Bayern's 25-year wait to lift the trophy ended courtesy of Oliver Kahn's three saves in the shoot-out. The better of his first two stops – a parry high to his right from Zlatko Zahovič and a tip onto the bar from Amedeo Carboni – was a competition in itself with the final one from Mauricio Pellegrino decisive.
Yet Kahn's consoling of opposite number Santiago Cañizares was arguably even more inspirational. "I could feel for him as I experienced something similar in 1999," he said. "That feeling right after that missed or saved penalty – those are moments you never forget. Celebrating is nice but it's not what stays with you." Kahn was later awarded UEFA's Fair Play award for his act of compassion – an all-round class act.