Where does Barcelona's win rank in sport's greatest comebacks?

1 MANCHESTER UNITED V BAYERN MUNICH, 1999

It only takes a second to score a goal. However, it took Manchester United 5,436 seconds before they finally breached the Bayern backline in the Champions League final in Barcelona to make it 1-1.

United manager Alex Ferguson had sent on reserve strikers Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to recover their 0-1 first-half deficit.

The goals were not classics - first of all, Sheringham turning in a scuffed Ryan Giggs shot after 90 minutes and 36 seconds. Bayern felt robbed.

After 92 minutes and 17 seconds, 43 seconds from extra time, Solskjaer got the tap-in winner. Sport's capacity for surprise had never been more vividly realised.


2 THE RYDER CUP, 2012

The US golfers were romping to victory on home turf. Going into the last-day singles matches, they needed just 41/2 points from 12 matches to win the trophy.

That was when strange things started happening. Rory McIlroy slept in and nearly missed his tee time, but the state troopers helped and he was one of eight European winners.

Amid scenes of wild jubilation, when Tiger Woods graciously conceded a putt to Francesco Molinari, Europe had the outright win by 141/2 to 131/2 in what is known as the Miracle at Medinah.


3 BARCELONA 6 PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 1, 2017

Eighty-eight minutes in. Barcelona looked down and out. They scored three goals earlier in the match to drag the aggregate score tantalisingly to 4-3, but an Edinson Cavani strike meant the one goal they needed to force extra time has suddenly turned into three to win it outright.

Hang on. Neymar scored with a superb free kick. Surely it's too late - hang on, he scored again! And Sergi Roberto scored the decisive goal in the fifth minute of added time to record the most remarkable comeback in Champions League history.


4 HEADINGLEY, 1981

Australia declared in the third Ashes cricket Test in Leeds at 401-9. England slumped to 174 all out. England had another go and got to 135-7. Cue Ian Botham and his unbeaten 149.

England, thus, set Australia a modest target of 130. At 58-2, the Aussies surely fancied their chances. Cue Bob Willis, 8-43 and a comfortable 18-run victory.


5 LASSE VIREN, 1972

Lasse Viren's recovery in the 1972 Munich Olympics 10,000m final was remarkable. He had been trundling along quite nicely until he was tripped at half-distance - a disaster, a big dream literally turned on its head.

However, not only did the Finnish hero manage to re-join the field, but he also won the gold medal and set a world record.


6 LIVERPOOL V AC MILAN, 2005

The 2005 Champions League final was a hoot. Milan scored. Then Andriy Shevchenko had a goal ruled out, but not to worry, there was Hernan Crespo to add two more before the break.

Fair play to the Liverpool fans who broke out into a spine-tingling rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone during the interval.

If people power started it, Steven Gerrard took up the baton - he scored after 54 minutes. Then Vladimir Smicer struck a low drive past Dida. All that was left was for Gerrard to get fouled and for Xabi Alonso to miss the ensuing penalty, only to nail the rebound.

Reds goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek was heroic from then on, as Liverpool emerged triumphant from the penalty shoot-out.


7 STEFFI GRAF V JANA NOVOTNA, 1993

The 1993 Wimbledon tennis final saw Novotna's serve-and-volley game overwhelm hot favourite Steffi Graf, and the Czech found herself leading 7-6, 1-6 and serving at 4-1 and 40-30 - needing just five points for victory.

But she was suddenly consumed with doubt, fear and context and produced one of sport's greatest chokes. Graf accepted the comeback gift and wrapped up the deciding set 6-4 in a matter of minutes.

A distraught Novotna cried on the Duchess of Kent's shoulder during the prize presentation.

She would lose again in the 1997 final after taking the opening set, before finally winning her only Grand Slam singles title the following year.

8 MIKE HAILWOOD, 1978

It was a decade since he had raced bikes, 13 since his last 500cc motorcycle title. He was 38 and had a gammy leg and the first signs of a pot belly. And yet he was going back to the TT races on the Isle of Man - called "Blood Bath Island" and a place that had been shorn of its world championship status due to the death toll that topped 230.

That was 1978 and, of course, Mike the Bike won. Three years later, and permanently retired, he went for some fish and chips. A lorry performed an illegal manoeuvre and struck Hailwood's Rover car. His daughter was killed instantly, his son suffered minor injuries; Mike died two days later, the saddest epitaph to a life lived in a reckless era of motor sports.


9 SEBASTIAN COE, 1980

Steve Ovett was at the Moscow Olympics in 1980 to win the 1,500m, his specialist event and the one in which he was unbeaten for 31/2 years. The 800m was just a warm-up to the main event. It looked that way at the bell, with Ovett down in sixth place, but then, to the horror of Sebastian Coe who would later say "I ran the worst tactical race of my life", Ovett hit the front and won.

Six days later came the 1,500m. Ovett had been so comfortable in the semi-final that he had waved to the crowd; Coe had struggled and had been pilloried in the press. In the final Ovett tracked Coe for much of the race but could not respond on the last lap and faded to third. Coe got his cathartic revenge.


10 MELDRICK TAYLOR V JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ, 1990

There have been higher-profile comebacks in boxing but nothing tops this junior welterweight bout from 1990.

Taylor, the IBF champion, took on Chavez, the WBC champion, and looked a clear winner going into the last minute. Then, with 16 seconds left, he was floored by a hard right.

He got to his feet when the count was at six and then, with him needing to survive for two seconds to win the bout, the referee stopped it. Controversy inevitably ensued.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 11, 2017, with the headline 'Where does Barcelona's win rank in sport's greatest comebacks?'. Print Edition | Subscribe