Five of the best Champions League semi-finals ever

Five of the best Champions League semi-finals ever
Five of the best Champions League semi-finals ever

The UEFA Champions League semi-finals are here as Europe’s elite competition reaches its conclusion.

One step from club football’s biggest game, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund are agonisingly close to the decider at Wembley.

Ahead of the last-four ties, we’ve remembered some classic Champions League semi-finals from past seasons.

Five of the best Champions League semi-finals ever:

Ajax 5-2 Bayern Munich (1995)

An uneventful first leg, followed by an unforgettable return. A goalless draw between Ajax and Bayern Munich in Germany saw tension take over in the first semi-final meeting before the Dutch side produced a masterclass in the second leg.

Louis van Gaal’s team were sensational in thrashing Bayern Munich 5-2 in Amsterdam, with Jari Litmanen opening the scoring. Marcel Witeczek equalised to put the Germans ahead on away goals, but three goals in five minutes either side of half-time saw Ajax storm ahead.

Finidi George fired Ajax back in front and Ronald De Boer added a third before the break. When Litmanen struck his second goal, just seconds after the interval, the semi-final looked over.

Mehmet Scholl pulled one back for Bayern from the penalty spot, but this was Ajax’s night.

Marc Overmars added the fifth late on, as the Dutch side went on to complete an Eredivisie and Champions League double without losing a game.

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Juventus 3-4 Manchester United (1999)

Manchester United’s treble dream appeared in tatters in Turin, as the Red Devils found themselves two goals down inside 11 minutes of the second leg. Filippo Inzaghi’s devastating double put Juventus 3-1 ahead on aggregate at The Stadio Delle Alpi, after a 1-1 draw in the first encounter.

Inspired by Roy Keane, who picked up a booking that meant he would miss the final, Manchester United roared back into the game. The Irishman headed in David Beckham’s corner to reduce the deficit, before Dwight Yorke scored a second to put the visitors ahead on away goals before half-time.

Andy Cole completed the comeback late on, turning in from a narrow-angle to spark wild celebrations from the Premier League side. A dramatic win over Bayern Munich in the final completed the most historic campaign in English football history for Sir Alex Ferguson and his side.

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Liverpool 4-3 Barcelona (2019)

Barcelona had one foot in the final after a 3-0 win over Liverpool at the Camp Nou, a clash that saw Lionel Messi score twice – including a fabulous free-kick – to give the Catalans a huge advantage ahead of the return.

Liverpool looked all-but-out and their task was made harder in the absence of Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg at Anfield. Divock Origi scored an early opener to breathe new life into the tie, before substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice in the space of 122 seconds after the break to turn the tie on its head.

The Spaniards were shellshocked and conceded an unforgettable fourth when Trent Alexander-Arnold caught Barcelona napping at a set-piece and crossed for Origi to steer home.

It was the first time since 1986 – when Barcelona knocked out Gothenburg in the European Cup – that a team had recovered a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a semi-final.

A famous fightback.

Ajax 3-3 Tottenham – Tottenham win on away goals (2019)

The very next night, Ajax were preparing to party like it was the nineties as the Dutch side closed in on a first Champions League final in 23 years, with Matthijs de Ligt and Hakim Ziyech goals putting Erik ten Hag’s team 3-0 up on aggregate.

Donny van de Beek’s winner in north London had been added to with first-half goals from De Ligt and Ziyech in the return, handing Ajax a seemingly unassailable lead.

Seemingly, but not quite.

Lucas Moura produced an iconic individual performance to score a second-half hat-trick, including a 96th-minute winner to send Spurs into the final on away goals.

As the Ajax players crumbled to the turf crestfallen, Spurs celebrated a sensational comeback that will live long in the memory.

Real Madrid 6-5 Manchester City (2022)

Manchester City and Real Madrid produced an unforgettable contest in 2021/22, sharing 11 goals over two legs packed full of incident and drama.

The Citizens were the better side and won a thriller at the Etihad 4-3, though Real Madrid’s responses through Karim Benzema (2) and Vinicius Junior kept Carlo Ancelotti’s men in the tie.

In the return, Riyad Mahrez looked set to send City into the final after putting the visitors 5-3 ahead on aggregate. Pep Guardiola’s team held a two-goal cushion heading into stoppage time at the Bernabeu, only to suffer a catastrophic collapse.

Off the bench, Rodrygo scored twice in 90 seconds to force extra-time and Madrid made it to the final when Karim Benzema converted from the spot in the added period. City, just seconds from the decider, were left stunned and disconsolate.

Read –Iconic Performances: Roy Keane’s superhuman display v Juventus 

See more – Five iconic individual Champions League performances

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