11 of the greatest Champions League group stage escapes
1. Newcastle 2002/03
Sir Bobby Robson’s Newcastle were flying high in the Premier League but had struggled to mix it with Europe's best, losing their first three group games to Dynamo Kiev, Feyenoord and Juventus without even scoring. But the Magpies didn't give up. Hosting a Juve side including Edgar Davids and Alessandro Del Piero at St James’ Park, one moment was enough for Newcastle to kick-start their campaign.
Andy Griffin rushed onto a quickly taken free-kick and skipped past a challenge, before seeing his cross-cum-shot turned home by Gianluigi Buffon. Robson's men managed to pull off victories over Dynamo Kiev and Feyenoord, coming from behind in Ukraine before storming through with Craig Bellamy's last-minute winner against the latter. With that, they became the first side to lose their first three games and qualify for the knockouts.
2. Arsenal 2003/04
Despite becoming the ‘Invincibles’ in the Premier League, the Gunners were far from impenetrable in Europe that season, losing two of their first three group games – including a 3-0 hiding from Inter at Highbury. But after Ashley Cole snatched a crucial 88th-minute winner in their fourth game against Dynamo Kyiv, Arsenal went on to annihilate Inter 5-1 at the San Siro in arguably their most formidable European display, led by the brilliance of two-goal Thierry Henry.
Arsene Wenger’s men managed to hold their nerve and clinched a 2-0 home win over Lokomotiv Moscow to progress on 10 points as group winners, demonstrating the steely character that proved the bedrock of that great Gunners side.
3. Lokomotiv Moscow 2003/04
Qualifying alongside Arsenal in second place were the Russians, who had defied the odds to oust Inter Milan and Dynamo Kiev. After amassing just a single point from their first two fixtures – a goalless home draw against Arsenal – Lokomotiv sat rock bottom of Group B, exactly where most people thought they'd stay.
But they were determined to leave with more than pride. The capital outfit took four points off Inter, including a 3-0 hammering of the Italian giants at home, and claimed a 3-2 win over Dynamo Kiev in the penultimate game to finish above Inter and hang on for a place in the last 16.