When the Brits travelled best
Despite Tottenham's loss to wily old Juventus, this season’s Champions League has the potential to be a vintage one for British clubs, with four other Premier League teams in the round of 16. Chelsea head to the Nou Camp to take on the mighty Barcelona in the second leg needing a positive result (or high-scoring draw) and can take inspiration from those who have gone before them.
From Jock Stein's all-conquering Celtic through Old Big 'Ead Brian Clough's back-to-back European Cup winners to Sir Alex Ferguson's treble-winning Manchester United, here are 10 historic away performances from British clubs in the continent's top competition.
Leeds 0-1 Celtic, 1970 semi-final
Ever the Boy Scout, Don Revie took being prepared very seriously, compiling huge dossiers on the opposition. So he must have been livid when his Leeds side conceded in the very first minute at Elland Road against Jock Stein’s Celtic. The Yorkshiremen were overwhelming favourites but George Connelly’s early strike turned out to be the only goal of the game.
When the Bhoys won 2-1 at Hampden in front of 136,000 in the second leg– despite going behind to an early Billy Bremner strike – the Scots made it through to their second European Cup final in four years. At the San Siro showpiece, they ultimately lost out in extra time to Feyenoord.
FC Köln 0-1 Nottingham Forest, 1979 semi-final
The first leg at the City Ground was one of THE great European Cup matches. The German double-winners raced into a two-goal lead, only for Brian Clough’s side to take a 3-2 lead shortly after the hour mark. Their good work was undone in the last minute when Yasuhiko Okudera, the first Japanese footballer to play professionally in Europe, fired past Peter Shilton. Forest needed to score in the second leg to progress to the final.
What followed was your archetypal classic away European performance; Old Big ‘Ead’s impeccably organised side defended stoutly before a 65th-minute Ian Bowyer winner sent them through to the European Cup final at the club’s first attempt. Aye: believe in miracles.
Leeds United 1-2 Rangers, 1992 second round
As the final top-flight champions before the Premier League, Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds took their place in the similarly newfangled Champions League – and faced the Scottish champions, just as they had 22 years earlier. And just as they had been 22 years earlier, they were favourites to progress. But just as they had 22 years earlier, events went against the form book.
This time it was the second leg, Rangers defending a slender 2-1 lead won through a John Lukic own goal and an Ally McCoist strike. As in 1970, it started apace: Eric Cantona was denied by Andy Goram from close range in the opening minute, but two minutes later Mark Hateley scored with a thunderous volley. The tie was effectively over in the 58th minute when Ally McCoist finished off a counter-attack. Cantona got a consolation, but Rangers were deservedly through.
Juventus 2-3 Manchester United, 1999 semi-final
United had been held to a draw in the first leg of the semi-final days earlier by a Juventus side containing Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids and Pippo Inzaghi. When Inzaghi scored twice in the first 10 minutes it looked as though United’s dreams of a first European Cup final in 31 years was over but a goal midway through the first half from the imperious Roy Keane gave them hope.
Dwight Yorke fired home 10 minutes before the break to level things up on the night and when Andrew Cole scored in the dying minutes, United had completed an incredible comeback – the likes of which wouldn’t be seen again for a generation. Or until the final when United did something similar to Bayern Munich to win the thing.
Anderlecht 1-4 Leeds, 2001 second group stage
The millennial Leeds team were a confident bunch but they knew they were in exalted company when their second-stage group pitted them against Serie A holders Lazio, Belgian champs Anderlecht and mighty Real Madrid. The Spaniards won the Elland Road opener but Leeds followed a 1-0 win at Lazio and narrow home win over the Belgians with this comprehensive demolition in the Low Countries.
Anderlecht were no patsies – they'd topped Manchester United's first-stage group and taken the lead in Yorkshire – but Leeds tore into them. Alan Smith scored either side of a Mark Viduka breakaway to give them a three-goal lead at the interval, and although towering Czech Jan Koller pulled one back Ian Harte's penalty restored a justified gap between the teams. Thanks to their Belgian double and Lazio's failings, Leeds were through with two games to spare and would go on to reach the semi-finals.
Real Madrid 0-1 Arsenal, 2006 last 16
Once upon a time, Arsenal were a force to be reckoned with in Europe, and it wasn’t really that long ago. Back in 2006 Arsenal went to Madrid in the round of 16 and took the game to Real, dominating them on their own patch. The Gunners should have returned to London with a bigger win than their 1-0 victory, but were largely wasteful until Thierry Henry scored a sensational solo effort shortly after half-time.
Arsenal sealed their place in the next round with a solid 0-0 draw at home in the second leg. They did the same to Juventus in the quarter-finals, winning the first leg in London and drawing 0-0 in Turin and repeated the formula in the semi-final against Villarreal. It ultimately ended in failure for the Gunners, though. After taking the lead in the final against Barcelona, they lost 2-1.
Barcelona 1-2 Liverpool, 2007 last 16
Liverpool have enjoyed many great European nights; after all, only Milan and Real Madrid have won more than the Reds’ five European Cup/Champions League titles.
This particular game at the Nou Camp, a tactical masterclass from Rafa Benitez, was memorable for a number of reasons. Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise were reportedly involved in a training ground bust-up in the Algarve just days before the match. They scored a goal each as Liverpool – who ended up third in the Premier League that season, 21 points behind Manchester United – upset a Barcelona side including Ronaldinho, Messi, Puyol, Deco and Iniesta.
AC Milan 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur, 2011 last 16
Spurs hadn’t competed in Europe’s premier continental competition in almost half a century when they qualified for the Champions League group stages for the 2010/11 season.
Despite being drawn in a tricky group with Inter, Dutch champions FC Twente and Werder Bremen, Spurs finished top, beating holders Inter 3-1 at White Hart Lane in a thrilling match.
They faced Inter’s rivals Milan in the last 16 without an injured Gareth Bale but it ultimately didn’t matter. An excellent rearguard action saw Spurs thwart a Milan side containing Ibrahimovic, Robinho, Seedorf and Gattuso. Improbably, a lightning counter-attack saw Aaron Lennon set Peter Crouch up for a late winner and a 0-0 home draw saw Spurs through to the next round.
Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea, 2012 semi-final
Barcelona were being heralded as the greatest club team ever and were huge favourites to retain the title they’d won the previous season. Had they done so, they would have been the first team to achieve it since Arrigo Sacchi’s imperious Milan side in 1990 and the first in the Champions League era.
Few expected Chelsea to hold onto the slender advantage they’d taken to Catalonia, having won the first leg the previous week 1-0 courtesy of a Didier Drogba goal.
As half-time approached, Barcelona were 2-0 up and John Terry had been sent off. Even when Ramires pulled one back on the stroke of half-time it felt like little more than a consolation. But when Barcelona were on the attack in the final minute of the match, the ball was cleared and there was Fernando Torres all on his own with just Victor Valdes to beat – which he did, and Chelsea were through.
Club Brugge 0-3 Leicester City, 2016 group stage
Following that incredible title-winning season for Leicester, they entered the Champions League, drawn in a tricky-looking group with Porto, Copenhagen and Club Brugge. The Foxes had made an atrocious start to their Premier League defence, winning just one of their opening four matches, and nobody really expected much as they made the trip to Belgium for their first ever Champions League match.
In perfect 2016 style though they utterly confounded predictions, winning comfortably through a Marc Albrighton opener and a brace from Riyad Mahrez (the first of which was a truly sumptuous free-kick).
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