Three of the Best Europa League Comebacks

The UEFA Europa League often plays second fiddle t

A Football Report
Three of the Best Europa League Comebacks

The UEFA Europa League often plays second fiddle to the more glamorous Champions League, but Europe's secondary competition has been the stage for some comebacks that are just as thrilling. This year, one team that will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat is English heavyweights Liverpool. They slumped to a shock 3-0 defeat at the hands of Italian side Atalanta in the quarterfinal first leg at Anfield, and they now have a herculean task ahead of them if they are to live up to their billing as favorites.

Heading into the tournament, Jurgen Klopp's Reds were much fancied to lift the trophy and end their maverick German manager's stint on Merseyside. The former Borussia Dortmund boss has led his side to both Premier League and Champions League success in recent years, and his side's dropping down into the Europa League this season saw them installed as heavy favorites. However, Gian Piero Gasperini clearly didn't get the script, and he inspired his side to a stunning three-goal away leg victory thanks to a Gianluca Scamacca brace and a late Mario Pasalic strike.

That has changed the landscape quite significantly in a very short space of time - and in interesting ways. Now, for the first time all year, online soccer odds providers no longer make Liverpool the favorites for glory. They have been pushed out to +1000, with runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen the new frontrunners at odds of +110. But the Anfield faithful won't be thinking of the Dublin showpiece; they'll be just hoping to make it through to the final four. And if they can follow in the footsteps of these sides, they may well do exactly that.

Dinamo Zagreb Overturns Two-Goal Deficit to Eliminate Heavily Favored Spurs

One of the most remarkable comebacks in recent Europa League history occurred three years ago when Dinamo Zagreb faced Tottenham Hotspur in the round of 16. Under the stewardship of Jose Mourinho and having won the first leg 2-0 at home, the Spurs were widely expected to cruise into the quarter-finals. However, the Croats had other ideas.

The Croatian champions, inspired by a magnificent Mislav Oršić hat-trick, staged an extraordinary fightback. The talented forward's first goal, a curling effort from the edge of the box, gave his side a glimmer of hope. His second, a precise finish after cutting inside from the left, sent belief surging through the Maksimir. Then, in extra time, the current Trabzonspor man completed his hat-trick with a thunderous strike to cap off a stunning individual performance and a historic night for the Croatians.

Three Goals in Four Crazy Minutes See Red Bull Salzburg Past Lazio in 2018

Red Bull Salzburg are often overshadowed by their counterparts bearing a suspiciously similar name. While the German giants have reached the Champions League semifinals in recent years, their Austrian counterparts have had to settle for the Europa League. In 2018, they took the competition by storm, and their quarter-final second leg against Lazio was the pinnacle. Trailing 4-2 from the first leg in the Stadio Olimpico, the Austrian side needed something special on home turf in the return leg, and they found the required magic in the most dramatic fashion possible.

After the Romans extended their aggregate lead early in the second half through Ciro Immobile, it looked as though the contest was over. The hosts needed three goals in 40 minutes if they were to overturn the deficit, and their response would be nothing short of miraculous. Barely 60 seconds on from Immobile's goal, Salzburg were level on the night through Mu'nas Dabbur, but they would have to wait a further 16 minutes for the fireworks.

Within a dizzying four-minute spell in the latter stages, Salzburg scored three times, overturning the deficit and sending the Red Bull Arena faithful into a frenzy. Amadou Haidara made it 2-1 on the night, before South Korean striker Hwang Hee-chan gave his side the lead on away goals two minutes later. A further two minutes on and full-back Stefan Lainer had added a fourth to give his team the lead on aggregate, meaning the visitors had to find the back of the net just to take the contest to extra time.

Unfortunately for them, that elusive equalizer never came, and it was Salzburg who reached the semifinals for the first time in their history.

Last Gasp Lovren Helps Liverpool Beat Dortmund in 2016

This season, Liverpool needs a miracle if they are to find a way past Atalanta. But one thing that will give them confidence is that they have managed to do exactly that in the Europa League under Jurgen Klopp once before. The Reds' semi-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund - the club that famously took to back-to-back Bundesliga titles - in 2016 was a showcase of the Merseysiders' famed never-say-die attitude. A 1-1 draw at Signal Iduna Park left the tie in the balance, but when two goals in the first nine minutes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Dortmund a 3-1 aggregate lead and two crucial away goals, it looked as though it would be the Germans that progressed at a canter.

Dvock Origi pulled one back before Marco Reus found a third away goal to surely take the contest away from the hosts. But no, back they came once again and goals from Philippe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho set the stage for a tense finale. Then, in stoppage time, Dejan Lovren rose highest to head home a James Milner cross, completing a remarkable comeback - Liverpool's finest since Istanbul.