The UEFA Champions League, widely regarded as Europe’s finest club competition, has taken us on a wild ride over the years. Football has been at its finest in this tournament, from poor performances to thrilling victories, from comebacks to heartbreaks.
While recent finals have not been as spectacular as they were a few years ago (the 2019 final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur being a great example), there have been some tense moments in the competition final that have truly established its legacy!
REAL MADRID 4-1 ATLETICO MADRID (2014)
Atletico Madrid had surprised many by winning La Liga that season, and reaching the UEFA Champions League final was considered as the icing on the cake.
Atletico Madrid, known for their defensive tenacity, faced Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid, who were vying for the famous “La Decima,” their tenth Champions League trophy!
They had last won the competition in 2002, defeating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1.
Atletico gained the lead in the first half thanks to a Diego Godin header, and despite creating numerous chances, Los Blancos were unable to score!
That changed dramatically in the 93rd minute as Sergio Ramos scored to equalize, before Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo scored in the last 10 minutes of the second half of extra time to beat their city-rivals and win the UEFA Champions League for the 10th time!
MANCHESTER UNITED 2-1 BAYERN MUNICH (1999)
Manchester United defeated Bayern Munich in one of the greatest finals in football history to win the Champions League and complete the treble, becoming the first English team to do so.
Manchester United were without the services of important midfielders Paul Scholes and Roy Keane, who were both suspended.
A Mario Basler free-kick gave the Bavarians the lead in the sixth minute; despite dominating possession, United failed to generate anything noteworthy.
Bayern Munich had a couple chances in the second half, with Mehmet Scholl and Stefan Effenberg coming close.
However, Teddy Sheringham equalised for Manchester United in the first minute of injury time, before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer clinched the win for United by putting the ball into the net in the 93rd minute!
Bayern Munich players were devastated, with Bayern ribbons already tied around the trophy in readiness for the presentation.
AC MILAN 3-3 (2-3P) LIVERPOOL (2005)
The 2005 UEFA Champions League final, widely known as “The Miracle of Istanbul,” was an exciting event.
AC Milan, managed by Carlo Ancelotti, were considered the favourites to win the competition, as Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez revealed.
The Italians had a veteran squad, with Paolo Maldini and Clarence Seedorf having won the competition seven times combined.
Milan took the lead in the first minute thanks to a Maldini volley, and Hernan Crespo added two more goals in the first half to make things easy for the Italian giants.
Liverpool, on the other hand, fought back in the second half. Steven Gerrard ran the show, and goals from him, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso ensured that the match went to penalties.
Serginho, Andrea Pirlo and Andriy Shevchenko missed their penalties, with only John Arne Riise missing his for Liverpool. The English club’s comeback was seen as an incredible sporting feat; with Gerrard declared the man of the match due to his fine performance!