Five Famous Football Fightbacks


On Saturday, an 87th minute Javier Hernandez header sparked scenes of elation for Manchester United and their 3,000-strong travelling support at Villa Park, as the visitors clawed back a two-goal deficit to defeat Aston Villa 3-2.

The Mexican took his tally to seven goals in his last five appearances, clinically converting either side of a Ron Vlaar own goal, that Hernandez himself forced upon the Dutch centre-back. Andreas Weimann’s double sandwiching half-time, gave Villa a surprise, two-goal cushion, but with 40 minutes still remaining, United were far from dead and buried.

A twenty-minute attacking frenzy, in which Robin Van Persie, who failed to score for once, hit the woodwork twice, saw the visitors complete yet another soul-destroying comeback with seconds to spare. This result moved the Red Devils four points clear of second place Chelsea in the Barclays Premier League and to those less knowledgeable in footballing matters, this performance may have appeared extraordinary.

But, for those of us in the know, it was nothing of the sort. There was nothing extra to this display by the comeback kings that we haven’t seen on so many occasions previously.

This season alone, United have comeback from losing positions to defeat Premier League opposition five times, claiming 15 points from otherwise profitless scenarios. Manchester United have come from behind to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat so often during Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious managerial career, proving that his never-say-die attitude has transformed the very ethos of the club.

With so many wonderful examples to choose from and after some serious consideration, Sport 4 Thought brings you Manchester United’s Five Greatest Comebacks of all-time:

5. Tottenham Hotspur 3 – 5 Manchester United (Premier League 2001/02)

With first-half goals from Dean Richards, Les Ferdinand and Christian Ziege, the White Hart Lane faithful could barely believe their eyes as they trudged off at the break 3-0 up against United. Cue hairdryer. The visiting side that emerged for the second-half was totally rejuvenated. An early 46th minute header from Andy Cole was the start of the end for Spurs who then conceded a further four goals to four more scorers in Laurent Blanc, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Juan Veron and David Beckham. The Spurs fans looked equally stunned at the full-time whistle.

4. Manchester City 2 – 3 Manchester United (Premier League 1993/94)

Following two headed goals in the first half from the big Niall Quinn, Maine Road was a bubbling cauldron of joy, the blue half of Manchester ecstatic with their lead over their local neighbours. However, with Eric Cantona on the pitch, nothing was ever certain and two goals from the flamboyant Frenchman were capped off with an 86th minute, back-post finish from Roy Keane to propel United to a second successive Premier League title.

3. Manchester United 2 – 1 Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League 1992/93)

A 65th minute John Sheridan penalty shook the home team who were desperate for victory to keep their title bid alive. Staring down the barrels of defeat, unlikely hero Steve Bruce fired home not one, but two headers in the 86th and 90th minutes. These goals sparked the infamous Brian Kidd on-pitch, jumping jack celebration and more importantly, helped United to their first league title since 1967. This was the catalyst for success on a grand scale, that has seen the Premier League title return to Old Trafford 12 times from a possible 20.

2. Juventus 2 – 3 Manchester United (Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg 1999)

Following a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, United were in for an uphill struggle against a formidable Juventus side in Turin. With Ryan Giggs declared unfit to play, things went from bad to worse when the home side scored twice inside the opening ten minutes through a Filippo Inzaghi brace. But the visitors refused to take defeat lying down and captain Roy Keane headed home after 24 minutes, with Dwight Yorke equalising before the break. Andy Cole completed the historic comeback, scoring the winner in the 85th minute, sending United through to their first European Cup Final in 31 years.

1. Manchester United 2 – 1 Bayern Munich (Champions League Final 1999)

Missing key midfield duo Roy Keane and Paul Scholes through suspension, United’s hopes of success were dealt a huge blow when a Mario Basler free-kick found the back of Peter Schmeichel’s net after just 6 minutes. With the game all but over, a last gasp corner enabled Teddy Sheringham to convert in the 91st minute to bring the scores level in a dramatic climax. Then the unthinkable. In the 93rd minute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer found the net from close range to send the players and fans into raptures. The day of the final would have marked the 90th birthday of legend Sir Matt Busby, the only other manager to have won the European Cup with Manchester United, in 1968. The king of all comebacks, left Sir Alex Ferguson with only this to say…”Football, bloody hell!”

Written by Dom Wallace

Sport 4 Thought