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UEFA Europa League's biggest second-leg comebacks

Heavy first-leg defeats do not necessarily mean the end in the UEFA Europa League – we look at the competition's biggest comebacks.

Paco Alcácer celebrates with Valencia team-mate Eduardo Vargas during their sensational 2014 comeback
Paco Alcácer celebrates with Valencia team-mate Eduardo Vargas during their sensational 2014 comeback AFP via Getty Images

Biggest Europa League comeback (group stage to final)

Basel 3-0 Valencia
Valencia 5-0aet Basel
2013/14 quarter-finals

"We have to believe," Valencia boss Juan Antonio Pizzi intoned in the lead-up to the second leg and, right from the off in Spain, it was obvious that his players did. Paco Alcácer's double and an Eduardo Vargas goal sent the tie into extra time. Basel crumbled, with Marcelo Díaz and Gastón Sauro sent off either side of the 90-minute mark, though the nine men almost struck back before Alcácer completed his hat-trick. Juan Bernat added a fifth to get the party started early at a bouncing Mestalla.

Eight teams have overturned two-goal deficits in the UEFA Europa League era:

Tottenham Hotspur 2-0, 0-3 Dinamo Zagreb (aet), 2020/21 round of 16
Sporting CP 3-1, 1-4 Başakşehir, 2019/20 round of 32
Benfica 4-2, 0-2 Eintracht Frankfurt, 2018/19 quarter-finals
Rennes 3-1, 0-3 Arsenal, 2018/19 round of 16
Lazio 4-2, 1-4 Salzburg, 2017/18 quarter-finals
Sevilla 0-2, 2-0 Real Betis (4-3 pens), 2013/14 round of 16
Ajax 2-0, 0-2 FCSB (4-2 pens), 2012/13 round of 32
Juventus 3-1, 1-4 Fulham, 2009/10 round of 16

Biggest Europa League comeback (qualifying)

Dinamo Minsk 4-0 Zenit
Zenit 8-1aet Dinamo Minsk
2018/19 third qualifying round

Artem Dzyuba celebrates against Minsk
Artem Dzyuba celebrates against MinskNurPhoto via AFP

Former Zenit midfielder Sergei Semak's first European game as the club's permanent coach was an unmitigated disaster as his side were trounced in Belarus, but the return was an improbable triumph. The hosts dragged the game into extra time – despite having a man sent off when they were 2-0 up – and reacted to Dinamo scoring an away goal by hitting four more of their own. "We put ourselves in that situation but got out of it ourselves too," Semak said. "It made the victory all the sweeter."

Biggest UEFA Cup comebacks

Mönchengladbach 5-1 Real Madrid
Real Madrid 4-0 Mönchengladbach

1985/86 third round

Real Madrid went on to win the 1985/86 UEFA Cup
Real Madrid went on to win the 1985/86 UEFA Cup©Getty Images

Madrid took a first-leg pounding from Jupp Heynckes' side, but Jorge Valdano struck twice within the first 17 minutes of the second leg to put Luis Molowny's charges in the hunt. Santillana added two more late on to complete a phenomenal comeback, his side going on to beat Köln in the final. Forward Juanito said: "I've been a Spanish international; I've played at two World Cups, I've won titles with Madrid, but this comeback tops the lot. It's the happiest day of my life."

Queens Park Rangers 6-2 Partizan
Partizan 4-0 Queens Park Rangers
1984/85 second round

Simon Stainrod in action for QPR against Partizan
Simon Stainrod in action for QPR against Partizan©Getty Images

Overwhelmed at Arsenal's Highbury home, where QPR played their European games that season, Partizan looked to be finished ahead of the second leg against Alan Mullery's side, but goals from Dragan Mance, Dragan Kaličanin, Miodrag Ješić and Zvonko Živković upended the tie. "We got battered on the night," recalled QPR midfielder Gary Waddock. "We prepared properly, but the result shows you what can happen if you get off to a bad start in the return leg in European football."

Biggest comebacks in other men's UEFA competitions

Paris 4-0 Barcelona
Barcelona 6-1 Paris

2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16

2017 highlights: Barcelona 6-1 Paris

Barcelona became the first – and, to date, only – side to overturn a four-goal deficit in Europe's top club competition. Paris's demolition of Luis Enrique's side in France was a shock; the comeback something out of this world, Sergi Roberto striking in added-time to win the tie. "I told him: 'Get into the box! You're going to score!'" Neymar recalled. Sergi Roberto added: "I didn't know if I was dreaming ... I have never known cheers like that."

La Chaux-de-Fonds 6-2 Leixões
Leixões 5-0 La Chaux-de-Fonds
1961/62 Cup Winners' Cup first round

Leixões are best remembered for a 2-0 victory against near neighbours Porto in the 1961 Portuguese Cup final, with that result earning them a European Cup Winners' Cup place. On their continental debut, Filipo Nuñez's side were crushed 6-2 at La Chaux-de-Fonds, but the Swiss side buckled at the Estádio do Mar. Osvaldo Silva made it 2-0 before the break, with Oliveirinha – twice a scorer in the first leg – hitting two more either side of a Vandinho effort.