10 European second-leg comebacks that prove there's always hope

You don't have to be down in the dumps even after the worst of first legs, writes Charles Ducksbury...

Real Madrid vs Derby County, 1975/76 (1-4, 5-1)

After the success of Brian Clough's glorious era at Derby, it was his best signing, Dave Mackay, who led the Rams during their second European Cup campaign. Up against Real Madrid in the second round, Charlie George netted a hat-trick in a 4-1 home win. Midfielder Archie Gemmill remembers:

“We arrived two days before the [return] game and had time to do some sightseeing. Though nowadays there would be no walking around a city for hours.” Derby were then dismantled 5-1 in front of 120,000 fans, thanks in part to a Roberto Martinez (no, not that one) double.

Partizan Belgrade vs QPR, 1984/85 (2-6, 4-0)

Before QPR were getting thrashed away from home every week in the Premier League, they were getting trounced in Europe too. Pitted against Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Cup, Rangers hammered the Yugoslavians 6-2 in a ‘home’ game played at Arsenal’s Highbury, thanks to Loftus Road’s plastic pitch.

Alan Mullery’s side then travelled to Belgrade for the return, only to be taken apart 4-0 and tumble out on away goals. “Mullery chased us down the tunnel telling us to come back for extra-time,” said goalkeeper Peter Hucker. “He didn’t even know the rules.” Unsurprisingly, the ex-Spurs man was axed weeks later.

Metz vs Barcelona, 1984/85 (2-4, 4-1)

After winning the first leg of this Cup Winners' Cup first round game in France, Barca star Bernd Schuster offered to “give the Metz players some ham to thank them for all the presents they’ve given to us tonight”. No French TV or radio station bothered to send anyone to the Camp Nou return, and their decision looked vindicated after Metz fell 5-2 behind on aggregate.

But two goals before half-time were followed by another one 10 minutes after the restart, before Yugoslav striker Tony Kurbos wrapped up a hat-trick and stunning win three minutes from time. Metz keeper Michel Ettorre was particularly chuffed. “At full-time I ran straight up to Schuster and bawled ‘Where’s your ham now?’” chuckled the glovesman. “I don’t think he speaks French but he understood me that night.”