11 unbelievable 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

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Real Madrid vs Derby, 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)

Pitted against Partizan Belgrade in the UEFA Cup, QPR hammered the Yugoslavs 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, Barça 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.”

Bayer Uerdingen vs Dynamo Dresen, 1985/86 (0-2, 7-3)

In this West vs East Germany Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final showdown, the pressure was on Dresden after the Stasi insisted they got to the semi-finals. After a 2-0 home win, progress was a formality when Dynamo led 5-1 on aggregate at half-time, in part thanks to Ralf Minge’s first-minute goal (stop sniggering at the back there).

But Uerdingen then scored an implausible six goals in 30 minutes to progress, much to the Stasi's anger. Dresden striker Frank Lippman fled to GDR and never returned; coach Klaus Sammer was fired for bringing shame on the nation. Uerdingen were beaten in the semis by Atletico Madrid.