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Manchester United's greatest European comebacks

United are 2-0 down going into the second leg of their UEFA Europa League tie with Liverpool, but – as UEFA.com discovers – few clubs handle adversity like the Red Devils.

United players mob Andrew Cole after his 1999 winner at Juventus
United players mob Andrew Cole after his 1999 winner at Juventus ©Getty Images

Manchester United trail Liverpool 2-0 going into the second leg of the clubs' first European encounter, but the Red Devils have gained a reputation for bouncing back. Liverpool fans will remember their 1999 FA Cup exit to Sir Alex Ferguson's side, when they led 1-0 on 88 minutes, only for Dwight Yorke and Ole Gunnar Solskjær to turn the tide with goals at the death. And in Europe, as UEFA.com discovers, United have worked greater wonders still.

Athletic Club 5-3 United
United 3-0 Athletic Club
1956/57 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals

A champagne celebration for United's class of '57
A champagne celebration for United's class of '57©Getty Images

Heavy snow in Bilbao gave the first leg a surreal twist, with United 3-0 down at half-time; Matt Busby's team rallied, a late strike reducing Athletic's advantage to two goals. That was regarded as a brilliant Athletic side, but United – playing at Manchester City's Maine Road – took them apart in the return leg, Dennis Viollet finishing after a Duncan Edwards shot was deflected into his path to secure a 1-0 half-time lead. United had further goals disallowed and hit the post in the second half before strikes from Tommy Taylor and Johnny Berry finally knocked out Athletic, the Daily Express calling it "the greatest victory in soccer history".

Tottenham 2-0 United
United 4-1 Tottenham
1963/64 European Cup Winners' Cup first round

United's 1962/63 FA Cup winner
United's 1962/63 FA Cup winner©Getty Images

The first all-English tie in UEFA competition was an anomaly – Tottenham having qualified as holders, United as FA Cup winners – but after Spurs prevailed in the first leg, the second game went against them. United scored early, and visiting captain Dave Mackay was taken off with a broken leg soon afterwards. With substitutions a thing of the future, Tottenham defended bravely with ten men – even equalising through Jimmy Greaves – yet could not prevent United eclipsing them. "I came down from the stand when Dave Mackay was injured, hoping to cheer him up," said United's Denis Law, who was watching from the sidelines. "But I'd have come down anyway ... I can't bear to watch football matches."

Barcelona 2-0 United
United 3-0 Barcelona
1983/84 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-finals

Bryan Robson scores against Madrid in 1984
Bryan Robson scores against Madrid in 1984©Getty Images

A Diego Maradona-powered Barcelona got the better of United at Camp Nou, but in what manager Ron Atkinson called "one of the great Old Trafford nights" the Red Devils fought back irresistibly, Bryan Robson on target in both halves before Frank Stapleton nicked the winner. "Because there were hardly any away fans the ground was literally full of United supporters, and they kept up an incredible level of noise all through the game," left-back Arthur Albiston recalled. "I've never heard anything like it before or since." 'Captain Marvel' Robson agreed: "It was the best atmosphere I have ever witnessed at Old Trafford."

United 1-1 Juventus
Juventus 2-3 United
1998/99 UEFA Champions League semi-finals

The "football, bloody hell" final triumph against Bayern München ultimately overshadowed a more impressive achievement. Lucky to snatch a first-leg draw, Sir Alex's Red Devils fell 2-0 behind within 11 minutes of kick-off in Turin before rallying to win. Roy Keane and Dwight Yorke levelled things up by the interval, laying the ground for Andrew Cole to net the 83rd-minute winner and take United to the final. Keane, however, was Sir Alex's hero. "It was the most emphatic display of selflessness I have seen on a football field," he wrote. "Pounding over every blade of grass, competing as if he would rather die of exhaustion than lose, he inspired all around him. I felt it was an honour to be associated with such a player."

Olympiacos 2-0 United
United 3-0 Olympiacos
2013/14 UEFA Champions League round of 16

Given the unenviable task of replacing Sir Alex, David Moyes seemed to have hit a new low when his team lost 2-0 at Olympiacos – until that poor showing was surpassed as they crashed 3-0 to Liverpool in the league the weekend before the rematch. A 40-year-old Ryan Giggs pulled the strings, though, and Robin van Persie's hat-trick overturned the visitors' two-goal advantage with interest. "We did not play well over there but they put it right tonight," Moyes said, captain Patrice Evra adding: "Maybe people will say I am too old school, but when you have the Man. United spirit you can make the difference and nothing is impossible."