10 of the biggest Champions League shocks: Arsenal on both ends, Sheva the assassin

Arsenal suffered humiliation in Zagreb in their first game, but Robert O'Connor says they're far from the first team to go down against the odds...

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1. Newcastle 3-2 Barcelona, 1997/98

In 1997, Europe’s top competition broke with 40 years of tradition and ceased to be exclusively the fare of champions. Eight league runners-up from Europe’s strongest leagues were admitted to pit themselves against the continent’s best, and the ‘Champions’ League became a nominal homage to a simpler time. History will record Newcastle United as the first non-champions ever to score in the competition in September 1997.

However, far more remarkable was the Faustino Asprilla hat-trick inside 49 minutes that lit the touch paper for a famous and unlikely win against old hands Barcelona. Late goals from Luis Enrique and Luis Figo weren't enough to deny the Magpies' famous win. 

2. Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Real Madrid, 1998/99

Unless current boss Sergei Rebrov has something remarkable up his sleeve this season, 1998/99 was the closest Kiev are ever likely to get to lifting Europe’s greatest prize. On their spectacular run to the semis they racked-up a handful of worthy scalps, but the way in which they saw off the holders in the quarter-final showed Valeriy Lobanovskiy’s tactical prowess at its best. Andriy Shevchenko again was the marksman on cue to crush Real Madrid, but this was a team whose gears turned seamlessly throughout.

3. Deportivo 4-0 Milan, 2003/04

Everything is context as far as Milan’s sorry collapse at the hands of Deportivo La Coruna in the 2004 quarter-finals is concerned.

The Italians had danced to a 4-1 win at San Siro in the first leg and travelled to Galicia safe in the knowledge that no side had ever overturned a three-goal aggregate deficit in Europe’s top competition. Amid such hubris, however, are Champions League dreams turned to ashes: Milan were pelted 4-0 at La Riazor (having smashed the same opposition by the same scoreline on the same ground the previous season) and skulked home wondering what had hit them.

4. Real Mallorca 1-0 Arsenal, 2001/02

Long before the debacle in Zagreb, Arsenal were no strangers to opening-day defeat in Europe. In 2001 it was Champions League newcomers Real Mallorca who condemned the Gunners to a torrid start, after Ashley Cole’s clumsy challenge on Albert Luque led to a dismissal, penalty and mountain to climb.

Things got worse for Arsene Wenger when his side lost in Athens to Panathinaikos the following month, and only by virtue of a 3-1 win over the Spaniards at Highbury in December did they squeak through from a less-than-arduous first group stage. They didn't make it past the second, though, bowing out with Juventus behind Bayer Leverkusen and Deportivo.    


5. Chelsea 1-1 Rosenborg 2007/08

Remembered not so much for the result as the tempest that followed, Chelsea's meek draw with minnows Rosenborg at Stamford Bridge proved to be the nail in the coffin of Jose Mourinho’s increasingly strained relationship with Roman Abramovich. Only 25,000 turned out to see Jose’s ignominious swansong before the Russian billionaire embarked on a trigger-happy seven years of managerial chaos. Yet the Blues breezed their Champions League group, before beating Olympiakos, Fenerbahce and Liverpool to tee up a Moscow final against Manchester United. Cue rain, and that slip.