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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)

Three-goal deficit

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

The biggest comeback in Europa League history came in the 2013/14 quarter-finals, when Valencia dusted themselves off after a 3-0 defeat at Basel to sensationally win the second leg in extra time.

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.

Watch stunning Valencia comeback

Valencia fell just short of another sensational comeback in the semi-finals, cancelling out a 2-0 first-leg defeat by Sevilla inside 26 minutes. Jérémy Mathieu completed the turnaround, and Valencia were heading through until Stéphane Mbia's 94th-minute buzzer-beater earned eventual trophy winners Sevilla an incredible away-goals triumph.

Two-goal deficit

Nine teams have recovered a two-goal first-leg deficit across the 14 Europa League seasons, most recently Braga against Sheriff in the 2021/22 knockout round play-offs.

Only one side has ever lost a home first leg by two goals or more and advanced in the Europa League. Sevilla were beaten 2-0 at home to city rivals Betis in the 2013/14 round of 16, but matched that scoreline across town a week later and then edged through on penalties.

Braga L2-0 W2-0 (aet, 2-0 pens) vs Sheriff
2021/22 knockout round play-offs

Dinamo Zagreb L2-0 W3-0 (aet) vs Tottenham
2020/21 round of 16

İstanbul Başakşehir L3-1 W4-1 vs Sporting CP
2019/20 round of 32

Eintracht Frankfurt L4-2 W2-0 vs Benfica (win on away goals)
2018/19 quarter-finals

Arsenal L3-1 W3-0 vs Rennes
2018/19 round of 16

Salzburg L4-2 W4-1 vs Lazio
2017/18 quarter-finals

Sevilla L0-2 W0-2 (aet, 4-3 pens) vs Betis
2013/14 round of 16

FCSB L2-0 W2-0 (aet, 4-2 pens) vs Ajax
2012/13 round of 32

Fulham L3-1 W4-1 vs Juventus
2009/10 round of 16

Flashback: Fulham 5-4 Juventus

Biggest Europa League comeback (qualifying)

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

Former Zenit midfielder Sergei Semak's first European game as the club's permanent coach was an unmitigated disaster as his side were blown away 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."

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

Biggest UEFA Cup comebacks

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

1985/86 third round

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."

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

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

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."

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

Biggest comebacks in other men's UEFA competitions

Paris 4-0 Barcelona
Barcelona 6-1 Paris

2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16

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."

2017 highlights: Barcelona 6-1 Paris

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

Leixões are best remembered for a 2-0 victory against near neighbours Porto in the 1961 Portuguese Cup final, 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.