1999 Champions League final 20 years on: the most dramatic ever?
On 26 May 1999, Manchester United snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the UEFA Champions League final against Bayern. Trailing 1-0 going into added time, United were soon lifting the trophy thanks to last-gasp goals from Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjær. “Football, bloody hell!” was manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s pithy summary of a remarkable evening in Barcelona.
Twenty years on, and with less than a week to go until Liverpool and Spurs meet in Madrid, UEFA.com ponders which was the most dramatic final in UEFA Champions League history.
1994: AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona
Milan were underdogs, their suspension-hit back line expected to buckle under the weight of the Spanish side’s attacking talent. However, Fabio Capello had a surprise up his sleeve, deciding to fight fire with fire, and Johan Cruyff’s men were caught unawares.
Daniele Massaro’s double before the break seized the initiative, with Dejan Savićević’s exquisite lob and Marcel Desailly’s cool finish wrapping up a fifth final triumph for the Italian team. “This was perfection,” stated Capello. No club has won the final by four goals since.
1999: Manchester United 2-1 Bayern
Bayern took full advantage of a United side missing influential midfield pair Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, seizing control through Mario Basler’s early free-kick and holding sway thereafter. Ferguson threw on Sheringham and Solskjær but could only watch as Carsten Jancker’s overhead kick hit the bar late on. That proved the turning point.
Sheringham swept the Red Devils level in the 91st minute from Ryan Giggs’ mis-hit shot and the usually unflappable German giants caved in. Two minutes later, David Beckham’s corner was nodded on by Sheringham and Solskjær prodded in to cap an incredible turnaround at the Camp Nou.
2005: AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liverpool win 3-2 on pens)
The ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ appeared a long way off with Liverpool 3-0 down at half-time. Paolo Maldini swept in Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick inside a minute and Kaká ran the Reds ragged, conducting the moves for both of Hernán Crespo’s goals. However, if the Rossoneri thought the job was done, they were sorely mistaken.
Within 15 minutes of the restart, Milan’s imposing rearguard had been breached by Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso, and an absorbing final eventually had to be settled by penalties. Serginho blazed over before Jerzy Dudek denied Pirlo and, decisively, Andriy Shevchenko to complete Liverpool’s Lazarus act.
2012: Bayern 1-1 Chelsea (Chelsea win 4-3 on pens)
With the final taking place at their own Fußball Arena München, Bayern were expecting to claim the trophy for a fifth time. Thomas Müller headed them into an 83rd-minute lead but, just as Bayern was preparing to celebrate, Didier Drogba levelled for a Chelsea team that had proved incredibly resilient during the knockout rounds.
Petr Čech then took centre stage, first denying ex-Blues winger Arjen Robben from the penalty spot in extra time, then saving from Ivica Olić and Bastian Schweinsteiger in the shoot-out. Drogba, with the last kick of his first spell at Chelsea, took the trophy to Stamford Bridge for the first and, so far, only time.
2014: Real Madrid 4-1 Atlético (aet)
Denied victory in the dying seconds of their only previous European Cup final in 1974, Atlético suffered the same fate 40 years later. Diego Godín’s header had them in front from the 36th minute, until the irrepressible Sergio Ramos nodded Carlo Ancelotti’s men level deep into added time.
Diego Simeone’s men were crestfallen and Madrid’s new generation of Galácticos did the rest. Gareth Bale nudged them clear, with Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo adding late gloss. Twelve years on from their most recent triumph, Madrid’s dream of securing ‘La Décima’ had finally been realised.