With the FIFA World Cup already in motion, we cannot help but get glued to our TV’s cheering on our favorite teams. While some games might be easily predicted, there are still a few that catch us by surprise every now and then. The most exciting games are when there seems to be no hope for one team, they come back and take the opposition head on and often pull out the best victories ever seen. So, with the World Cup surrounding us daily, let us take a look at some of the most breathtaking comebacks the world of football has ever seen.
10. Australia vs. Croatia in Germany, 2006 (Group Stage).
Australia is a country known less for football but under coach, Guus Hiddink, they managed to qualify for the round of 16. The last time Australia passed the group stage was 32 years prior to that game which was in itself an historic moment for the players and for the country alike. Although they did not record a win, they came from behind twice and drew the game at 2-2 as can be seen here. Playing such tough football, they received 3 yellow cards but that did not stop them from becoming the first Oceania Confederation side to make it passed the group side and reach the knockout phase. Needless to say that the match was a spark to the fire that burnt in the hearts of all the Australian footballers and they never looked back from then.
9. Brazil vs. England in South Korea/Japan, 2002 (Quarter Final).
After Brazil started their qualification with a less than impressive show, the fact that they reached the quarter finals left some hope in players and fans. They were 4 time champions and were facing a strong English side that was ready to put on a good fight. When Michael Owen smashed the first goal in the 23rd minute, all hope seemed to be lost and the English fans could not ask for anything more. But Ronaldinho had other ideas as he assisted Rivaldo to Brazil’s first goal in the 47th minute. At the half, both teams were confident enough to go for the win but again it was Ronaldinho who stunned the world with the best free kick in history. He literally chipped England goalie Seaman from 32 meters out and scored in the top left corner in the 50th minute. A review of the match can be seen here.
8. Portugal vs. DPR Korea in England, 1966 (Quarter Final).
When Korea beat giants Italy 1-0, they ensured that it was one of the country’s best football moments. After they advanced to the round of eight, Korea was to face Portugal and boosted with confidence, they were all out to leave their mark on World Cup football. They scored in the first minute of the game and at the 25th minute, Korea shocked the world by going up 3-0. Portugal did not give up and through a determined Eusebio, they pulled one goal back within 3 minutes. Before the half time whistle, the score was 3-2 in favor of Korea with a penalty from Eusebio as seen here. What happened at the half is still unknown because when Portugal returned, they were a different team. Eusebio scored two more goals at 57 and 59 minutes respectively and the cherry on the cake was provided by Jose Augusto in the 79th minute. From being 3-0 down to winning 3-5 was something no one expected but one man changed it all.
7. West Germany vs. Netherlands in Germany, 1974 (Final).
Finals are always exciting and few come close to this as the Dutch blew away all competition on their way to the final. The German fans believed that their dream of winning the world cup at home were lost. When Johan Neeskens scored from the penalty spot after just 2 minutes, the Germans were at their lowest. People say that the fans make the team and they proved just that when over 70% of the 75,000 fans cheered their team back in the game. Here you can see how Paul Breitner drew the game from a spot kick and later Gerd Muller’s fantastic goal ensured that the Germans got exactly what they wished for; a second World Cup title.
6. France vs. Croatia in France, 1998 (Semi Final).
The 1998 World Cup saw Croatia as one of the best teams when they beat champions Germany, 3-0 to enter the semi final against France. The Croatians built up courage and believed that they had a real shot at winning their first ever title. What added to their belief was Davor Suker’s splendid shot that gave the Croatians a lead and a step towards the final. But, as all comebacks go, enter the hero in the shape of French full back, Lilian Thuram. His two goals took France into the finals but what is even more astonishing is that the two goals he scored that day were his only two goals in his 142 caps.
5. Korea Republic vs. Italy in Japan/South Korea, 2002 (Last-16).
When South Korea’s Ahn-Jung Hwan scored one of the best Golden Goals ever, it helped them beat Italy and advance to the round of 8. But sadly he was met with both positive and negative remarks. Because Italy was one of the favorites to win the title and they got knocked out by Korea, as you can see here the Italians did not take it very well. In fact, the team that Hwan played for at the time was Italian side, Perugia. The owner Luciano Gaucci even went to the extent of saying that he would not pay salary to a player who “ruined Italian football”. Hwan never played for the club again.
4. West Germany vs. England in Mexico, 1970 (Quarter Final).
In 1966, England beat Germany to win the world cup and four years later, the Germans got a chance for revenge. Although the English side were up by two goals, Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer pulled one back in the 68th minute. It was just one goal but this one goal changed the way both teams would finish the match as seen here. Sir Alf Ramsey, the coach of England, decided to take off Bobby Charlton and then in the 76th minute, the Germans drew the game through Uwe Seeler. The match went into extra time where the amazing Gerd Muller put in a diving volley to take the Germans to third place and exact revenge for the previous world cup.
3. Uruguay vs. Brazil in Brazil, 1950 (Final Round).
As clear favorites, playing at home, Brazil were all set to lift their first ever world cup. They were facing Uruguay and they were confident having won their previous two games 7-1 and 6-1. Early in the second half, Friaca scored for Brazil and hopes were lifted higher but, Uruguay came back brilliantly from behind to win their second title. The match was named “Maracana Blow” when Juan Alberto Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia scored to take the match to 2-1.
2. West Germany vs. France in Spain, 1982 (Semi Final).
A comeback naturally seems more exciting when it goes all the way to penalties and that is exactly what the Germans did against France. Pierre Littbarski scored in the 17th minute but was cancelled out when Michel Platini scored from the spot. The game went on until extra time came along, but before that German goal keeper, Harald Schumacher fouled Patrick Battiston and left him unconscious and without his two front teeth. He was taken off on a stretcher just 10 minutes after he came on. The teams entered extra time and surprisingly, France took a quick lead and was 3-1 ahead in just 8 minutes as you can see here. But you can never count the Germans out and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored a second. Soon, Klaus Fischer scored the equaliser and Germany beat Uruguay on penalties to enter yet another final.
1. West Germany vs. Hungary in Switzerland, 1954 (Final).
Noted as one as the best matches ever played as well as the best ever comebacks, the Germans faced the Olympic champions, Hungary. They had already beaten Germany 8-3 in an earlier meeting and this left the Germans tensed. Adding to the pressure, the Hungarians scored two early goals and left the fans quiet. But, quick goals from Max Morlock and Helmut Rahn raised the spirits of players and fans. The game remained a tie till 6 minutes were left on the clock. There was a moment where the Hungarians hit the post and soon, the Germans were on attack mode. A mistake by the Hungarian goalkeeper left Rahn with an open goal and he could not and did not miss. The Germans or the “Comeback Kings” of the World Cup lifted their first title.