Liverpool's greatest European comebacks as they bid to beat Atalanta

Reds need to conjure another magical night if they are to overturn a 3-0 deficit in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final

Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard holds the trophy in front of his team mates after winning the Champions League final soccer match against AC Milan at the Ataturk Olympic stadium in Istanbul May 25, 2005. Liverpool made European soccer history by coming from 3-0 down to beat favourites AC Milan 3-2 on penalties in an astonishing Champions League final that had finished 3-3 after extra time (Photo by liewig christian/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Liverpool travel to Italy on Thursday knowing they will need to call on their past history of great European comebacks to keep their Europa League hopes alive.

The English side trail Atalanta 3-0 after last week's first leg in which the Italians put on masterclass in man-marking and clinical finishing at Anfield.

The result, followed days later by a 1-0 defeat at home to Crystal Palace that put a serious dent in their Premier League title hopes, threatens to bring a sad end to Jurgen Klopp's fairy-tale time on Merseyside with the German stepping down at the end of the season.

Few clubs can conjure magical nights like Liverpool though, a club synonymous with staging seemingly insurmountable comebacks in European competition.

We take a look at Liverpool's greatest comebacks on the European stage.

2005: Champions League, Istanbul. AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool

Liverpool were staring down the barrel of a gun as they trailed Italian giants AC Milan 3-0 at half time thanks to a Paolo Maldini goal and a brace from Hernan Crespo. Captain Steven Gerrard's headed goal inspired a stirring second-half fightback for Liverpool. Vladimir Smicer's long-range strike reduced the deficit and Xabi Alonso's goal forced the game into extra time.

With the tie still level at the end of extra time, it was goalkeeper Jerzey Dudek's time to shine in the shoot-out, saving Andrei Shevchenko's decisive spot kick despite diving the wrong way as Liverpool won 3-2 on penalties and the "Miracle of Istanbul" legend was born.

2019: Champions League, Anfield. Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Barcelona arrived at Anfield defending a 3-0 lead after dismantling Liverpool in their Champions League semi-final first leg at Camp Nou. Roared on by a relentless home crowd, Divock Origi's seventh-minute goal gave Liverpool a sliver of hope and two Gini Wijnaldum goals in the space of two second-half minutes had the crowd believing that they were about to witness one of the greatest nights in the club's history.

A moment of devious deception by Trent Alexander-Arnold saw the Barcelona defence switch off at a corner and the defender drilled in a low cross for Origi to fire home on 79 minutes, putting Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time and into the Champions League final.

2016: Europa League, Anfield. Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund

Three years before their epic comeback against Barcelona, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund played out one of the greatest games in Europa League history. The tie was finely poised after the sides played out a 1-1 draw in Germany but Liverpool found themselves 3-1 down on aggregate after nine minutes of the return leg as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored through swift counter attacks. Origi pulled Liverpool back to within one goal but Marco Reus restored Dortmund's two-goal advantage on 57 minutes.

Because of the away goals rule, Liverpool still needed three goals with less than 25 minutes left but Philippe Coutinho's low shot cut the deficit and when Mamadou Sakho headed in after 77 minutes, Liverpool stood on the brink of something remarkable. Amid riotous scenes, Dejan Lovren rose to head home in stoppage time in front of the Kop to spark chaotic celebrations and seal a win that will take its place in Anfield folklore.

2004: Champions League, Anfield. Liverpool 3-1 Olympiacos

Liverpool went into their final group match of the 2004/05 Champions League needing to beat their opponents by two goals to advance to the knockout stages. The task was made all the harder as Olympiacos went ahead through a superb free kick by Brazil maestro Rivaldo.

However, in a sign of what was to come for Liverpool in that season's European Cup, they staged a remarkable turnaround. Goals from Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor put the Anfield faithful on the edge of their seats for a special comeback win over the Greeks. Gerrard sent the stands into raptures when he thumped home an absolute screamer to send the Reds through to the last 16.

1976: Uefa Cup, Anfield. Liverpool 3-2 Club Bruges

It seems mad to think the final of Uefa Cup, the precursor to what is now the Europa League, used to be played over two legs. The first leg at Anfield was arguably where the Liverpool legend of astonishing comebacks was born. The Reds trailed 2-0 to the Belgian side but three goals in six minutes – Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and Kevin Keegan all got on the scoresheet – gave the English club the advantage. A 1-1 draw in the return leg in Belgium saw Liverpool clinch the trophy 4-3 on aggregate.

Updated: April 17, 2024, 12:44 PM