Of course, whenever there’s a sports event, there’s sports betting. And games that feature turnarounds and comebacks are definitely the most rewarding ones, in terms of profit for the punters. As you probably already know, there is an abundance of online sports betting sites, but only a few of them offer the highest odds, 100% security and valuable markets. Check out our list of the best online bookies and pick an operator that you know you can trust and count on. We have made thorough research, in order to make our list of the top sportsbooks in 2022, and we assure you that all of the best online gambling sites in the UK that we recommend hold the required licences for gambling purposes and will provide you with the most beneficial odds and markets. Hurry up and make a registration at one of them (or all of them) and you’ll be ready to place your bets and win some cash the next time you watch a game and you feel that another comeback is on its way. So, without further ado, here are our picks for the greatest football comebacks.
Bayern Munich 1:2 Manchester United (1999)
“This is the greatest moment of my life” – that is what the best and the most successful football manager of all times Sir Alex Ferguson said after the final whistle of the game. And undoubtedly, it wasn’t such a special moment just for him. A Champions League final, a thriller, a match played on one of the most famous football stadiums in the world – Kamp Nou in Barcelona, a dream-come-true and a treble. There are many words for this game but probably one of the most accurate descriptions would be “it is never too late”. It’s no surprise that since then, the minutes after the 89th are referred to as “Fergie time”. The game was expected to be a tight one, as both teams were going into the final in outstanding forms. The Germans started very strong and Mario Basler gave Bayern the lead in the 6th minute after a free-kick. Both teams went on to trade punches and the Germans even hit the bar. But United weren’t giving up. The first half ended with an advance for the Bavarians and United’s coach knew that he has to encourage his players and motivate them to play at their best. Here is a part of his speech in the dressing room:
“At the end of this game, the European Cup will be only six feet away from you, and you’ll not even be able to touch it if we lose. And for many of you, that will be the closest you will ever get. Don’t you dare come back in here without giving your all!”
Two genius substitutions from Ferguson in the second half saw Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer come into play. The match was coming to an end and it was the 89th minute when United were rewarded another corner (11th). Beckham was about to take it when he saw even the goalkeeper of United joining his teammates in the Germans’ penalty area. The cross came in, Schmeichel went for the header, the ball came to Giggs after Bayern failed to clear it. His right-foot volley was met at the edge of the six-yard box by Sheringham who put it home. 1:1. While United players were celebrating, the Germans were clearly shocked.
30 seconds after the play was re-started United received another corner kick. Bayern were still stunned from the equalizer and United knew that this would be a great chance for them to wrap it up. The cross came from David Beckham again, Sheringham knocked it down for the “baby-face killer” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who put it past Oliver Kahn. And there it was, 2 goals in the final 3 minutes saw the Red Devils cover with fame. The win completed United’s treble campaign and to this day no other English club has managed to win the top three championships in a single year. The determination that United showed, especially after the half-time break, are a pure example that with a strong team spirit and a positive attitude there is no such thing as “no way back”.
“I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. Football. Bloody hell.” – Sir Alex Ferguson, after the final whistle
Barcelona 6:1 PSG (2017)
After this remarkable final, it is time to give an example of two outstanding comebacks in two-leg features. The first one is Barcelona, who managed to make the largest comeback in the UEFA Champions League history after losing 4:0 to PSG in the first leg of the round of 16. The second game was supposed to be on their own stadium in Barcelona but not many Catalonian fans were optimistic about their team’s chances.
The game started perfectly for the Spanish team, as Suarez scored in the 3rd minute. An own goal from Kurzawa led to 2:0 and at the break, Messi and co felt that they still have a chance of progressing or at least sending the game to extra time. Shortly after half time Neymar fell over Thomas Maunier in the box and Barca were awarded a penalty. Messi converted it and by the 50th minute, the result was 3:0. Then a goal from the visitors made the task nearly impossible, as Barcelona had to score 3 more goals in order to wipe out the away goal scored by Cavani. But the Catalonians were refusing to let the game go. The time was running out and PSG were trying to slow down the play and not give a chance to Barcelona to get back into it. Then the 88th minute came and Neymar smashed a brilliant goal from a free-kick. The mood instantly changed and the Spanish side pressed even further their French rivals. 6 minutes of extra time were added and in the first minute, Barcelona were awarded a penalty. Neymar took it and scored. The stands at the Camp Nou erupted and the feeling of a football miracle was spreading among the fans. In the 95th minute the dream became reality as Roberto turned into the hero, when he scored the 6th goal and sent nearly 80,000 attending Barcelona fans in delirium. 6:1. Barcelona were going through the next round after an aggregate score of 6:5.
To this day, that is the only Champions League game when a team overturned a four-goal first-leg deficit and definitely it is going to be hard for another team to match such a remarkable accomplishment. Thousands of punters, not all of whom were fans of the Catalonian club, made fortunes from this comeback, as the odds for Barcelona to qualify after the first game were around 8/1 prior the kick-off at the Nou Camp (depending on the sportsbook). 10-15 minutes after Cavani scored for 3:1, the odds raised to 200/1 for Barcelona to make it through to the quarter-finals. Well, for a sports betting fan, that’s as good as it gets. Whoever put down a bet on these odds surely has been screaming and jumping during the extra-time.
Ajax 2:3 Tottenham (2019)
Another fascinating comeback in a two-leg game was the semi-final of the 2018-19 Champions League. The first game between Tottenham and Ajax finished 0:1 in London, and Tottenham knew that they had to beat the most successful Dutch team in their home, in order to reach the final for the first time in their history. Both teams were playing fantastic football so far, knocking out football giants on their way to glory. The second leg was expected to be a thriller, filled with goals and the bookmakers supported the Dutch team to go through to the final.
And the game at the Johan Cruyff Arena started as predicted by the bookies. Early on, in the 5th minute, a towering header by the 19-year old Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt gave Erik ten Hag’s youthful team the lead. Tottenham started to press high and in one of the following attacks hit the post through Son Heung-min. And just when it seemed that the English team will get back into the game, Hakim Ziyech scored a fabulous second goal for Ajax in the 35th minute. Spurs were 3:0 down on aggregate and had to score at least 3 goals in order to go through the final. The first half was over and the Ajax crowd were buzzing, singing their traditional half-time rendition of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds”.
At this point, the odds for Spurs to win the game were around 24/1. The second half started and the Pochettino’s side managed to get a goal back in the 55th minute through Lucas Moura. Just 4 minutes later, Moura scored again, after a misunderstanding in the Ajax penalty area. The game was now open. Both teams were playing aggressive and entertaining football and weren’t afraid to attack, looking for a third goal. Ajax had the better chances and a shot by Ziyech hit the post, keeping Spurs in the game. The regular time was over and the referee appointed 5 minutes of extra time. Both teams knew it is going to be a frantic finish. And as the game moved into the final minute of stoppage time, Lucas Moura produced another moment of magic, completing his hat-trick with a left-foot shot from 16 yards.
Tottenham were through to the final, for the first time in their history, after a 3:3 aggregate score and more away goals. It was not only the Dutch fans with tears streaming down their faces, as Mauricio Pochettino cried with a sheer emotion of the unthinkable achievement. Of course, the whole team of Tottenham were praised, but the hero undoubtedly was Lucas Moura. His performance in the second half was marvellous. He was the fifth player to score a hat-trick in a Champions League semi-final and the odds for the 26-year-old Brazilian to do this at half time were around 135/1. A common strategy among regular punters is to bet on the goal scorers. Usually, bet365 provide the highest odds for this kind of markets and even the odds for a single goal anytime during the match are quite high, especially for players who are not the regular goalscorers. The site offers markets for first and last goalscorer, anytime goalscorer and player to score 1, 2, 3 or more goals in a single game. Another outstanding advantage of playing at bet365 is that the operator has the incredible offer “2 Goals Ahead Early Payout”. This means that, for example, if you had a bet on Ajax to win, your bet would have been considered won and paid out in the 35th minute (when the score became 2:0 for Ajax), despite the final result.
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Reading 5:7 Arsenal (2012)
After those 3 epic football comebacks in the Champion League, it’s time for a comeback example in another competition. The English Football League Cup is known for its surprise results and unpredictable winners. The competition was first held in 1960-61 season and has changed its name a dozen times since then, depending on the main title sponsor. Currently, it is known as the Carabao Cup, but back at 2012-13 season, it was called Capital One Cup. In that same season, the world witnessed one of the biggest football comebacks. Reading hosted Arsenal in a knock-out game, which turned out to be one of the most exciting and thrilling games in the history of football.
Reading were just promoted to the Premier League and their self-confidence was very high. The Royals knew that they would struggle to keep their place in the top tier of English football and were hoping to reach at least one of the later stages in the Football League Cup. But they had to go past Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal first. The bookies made Arsenal strong favourites with the odds for Reding progressing going as high as 26/1. But the first half of the game saw some pretty unexpected events. After 35 minutes, the result was 4:0 for Reading. Goals from Jason Roberts, Mikele Leigertwood, Noel Hunt and a Koscielny own goal saw the Gunners lagging behind. Arsenal were sloppy, giving away possession and obviously had no plan how to press their opponents.
Right until the 44 minute Reading were magnificent, but a goal from Theo Walcott at the end of the first half gave back hope to the London team. An inspiring motivational speech (with a note of fury and disappointment) by Wenger during half-time saw the Gunners produce an unbelievable comeback to recover from 3 goals down for the first time in their history. Firstly, in the 65th minute, Olivier Giroud scored a magnificent header and inspired his teammates. Arsenal were pressing a lot and managed to produce some wonderful attacks, but the final touch was missing. Of course, for the drama to be full, they had to score in the final minutes. Koscielny redeemed his self for the own goal in the first half, with a goal in the 89th minute making the score 4:3 and in the 96th minute Walcott scored his second goal and equalized the score. The game went to overtime.
In the 103rd minute, Chamakh scored to give Arsenal their first lead of the game. The first extra half was over and all the players were obviously looking very tired, despite the substitutions, the adrenaline or the ambition. The second extra half started and straight away Arsenal almost wrapped up the game, with a miss from Walcott. In the 115th minute Pogrebnyak scored for Reading to make it 5:5, and the game looked like it is going to be decided in a penalty shootout. But in the 120th minute, a brilliant run by Arshavin, a cross and a scramble saw the ball reach Walcott who completed his hat-trick, making the score 5:6. Reading were stunned and a terrible mistake helped Chamakh to seal the win with a beautiful goal and make the final score 5:7.
A game with a total of 12 goals, 5 of which in the first half. A dream football match for any sports betting fan. It is known that one of the favourite bets of a long-time punter is the over 2.5 goals in a game. Usually, the odds for this bet are around 4/5 depending on the game and the sportsbook. Well, this game had over 7.5 goals (in regular time) and the odds for that are normally around 90/1 (again, depending on the game). Among our list of recommended sportsbooks, usually, Betfair provides the best odds for this market.
In case you are wondering why our list of the greatest football comebacks doesn’t feature the famous Champions League final between Milan and Liverpool, it is because we have ranked it as the greatest football comeback ever and we have included the game in our article about the Greatest Sports Comebacks, where we have listed 1 example for 6 different sports. Give it a read and learn about some of the most inspiring stories in sports history, filled with a remarkable human spirit, dedication, self-belief and sacrifice.