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The greatest semi-final comebacks

At 2-0 down, Valencia CF should not lose heart – Real Madrid CF have twice overturned similar semi-final margins, and Middlesbrough FC retrieved an even worse situation.

Goalkeeper Walter Zenga despairs after Inter's 3-0 loss to Madrid in 1985
Goalkeeper Walter Zenga despairs after Inter's 3-0 loss to Madrid in 1985 ©Getty Images

FC Internazionale Milano 2-0 Real Madrid CF
Real Madrid CF 3-0 FC Internazionale Milano
Real Madrid win 3-2 on aggregate

Ilario Castagner's Inter dominated the first leg in Milan and were disappointed to only win 2-0, having missed several good opportunities after Liam Brady's penalty in the first half and Alessandro Altobelli's cool finish from a nice pass by Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the second. "It's a pity because we deserved more than two goals," Brady said after the game. "We are aware that Real Madrid can do great things at home, but we have proved that we can play well away, so we are very confident that we can reach the final.”

It did not go to plan. Carlos Santillana cancelled out Inter's advantage with an opportunistic finish and a brilliant header. Michel's shot just before the hour mark skidded low past Walter Zenga to complete the turnaround. "Ninety minutes can be a very long time at the Santiago Bernabéu," quipped Juanito, who came on as a substitute in both legs. How right he was.

FC Internazionale Milano 3-1 Real Madrid CF
Real Madrid CF 5-1 FC Internazionale Milano (aet)
Real Madrid win 6–4 on aggregate

Carlos Santillana, the scourge of Inter
Carlos Santillana, the scourge of Inter©Getty Images

Having come back from 5-1 down to beat VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the third round, overturning a two-goal deficit against an Inter side still smarting from that 1985 defeat was relatively simple. Under coach Mario Corso, Inter were determined to make amends for that previous loss, with Marco Tardelli twice on target in the first leg – including a goal within a minute of kick-off.

In Madrid, Hugo Sánchez converted from the penalty spot just before the break, with Inter's Giuseppe Bergomi soon hitting a post at the other end. It proved to be a key moment. After Rafael Gordillo had made it 2-0 to the Spanish outfit, further spot kicks from Brady and Sánchez sent the game into extra time, where Santillana decided the tie with a header from a corner and finish on the counter. Once more Inter's bête noir, he had previously scored against them in the 1980/81 European Cup and 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

FC Steaua Bucureşti 1-0 Middlesbrough FC
Middlesbrough FC 4-2 FC Steaua Bucureşti
Middlesbrough win 4-3 on aggregate

Massimo Maccarone completes Middlesbrough's comeback
Massimo Maccarone completes Middlesbrough's comeback©Getty Images

Things looked bleak for Middlesbrough when Nicolae Dică added to his first-leg goal and Dorin Goian gave Steaua a 3-0 aggregate lead with 24 minutes played in the return. However, Massimo Maccarone reduced the deficit before half-time and second-half goals from Mark Viduka (64) and Chris Riggott (73) levelled the tie. Steve McClaren's team still needed one more and in the 89th minute Stewart Downing's cross was headed in by Maccarone. A week later, McClaren was named England manager.

"I've been a professional for 14 years and I've never experienced anything like this in my life," George Boateng told UEFA.com afterwards. "In the dressing room Fábio Rochemback asked me: 'Did we really score four?' I said: 'Yeah, I think so!' Because none of us could believe we had done it. It's crazy. It was like a movie with a happy ending."

Thanks to Paul Bryan, Andrew Haslam and Paolo Menicucci