Was Barca’s comeback the greatest ever? You tell me, but I can’t remember many, if any, better
- Credit: AP
In all the years I have been watching football – live and on TV – I can count on one hand the amount of ‘WOW! WOW! WOW! Have I just seen that?’ moments.
But what happened at the Camp Nou Stadium, in Barcelona, last night, will remain with me - and I’m sure the millions who were either there or watching - forever.
The best footballing comeback of all time? Well, you are going to be hard-pressed to beat it.
For those of you who don’t know what happened, Barcelona were 4-0 down after the first leg (a game I saw in a bar in Spain three weeks ago while on holiday). The Spanish at the time were aghast with what had happened. Newspapers gave the likes of Messi and Neymar 2/10 for their performances - it was that bad.
Fortunately for the Catalan club, it was only the first leg. And incredibly Barca turned around a 4-0 deficit to win 6-1 on the night and 6-5 on aggregate. But that only tells half the story.
As I sat down to watch the game only the biggest optimist would have given Barca hope.
But then again, I’m an Ipswich Town fan, so I know all about Barcelona, the Camp Nou and comebacks. It was back in 1977 Ipswich Town played Barcelona in the UEFA Cup, third round, first leg at Portman Road (for all you boys and girls under 40, I’m not making this up...Ipswich v Barcelona was a real fixture back then!).
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The late, great Johan Cruyff was the Spaniards’ talisman in those days, Portman Road was bursting at the seams and as a young 11-year-old I was wide-eyed with excitement, standing on my milk crate in the East Stand!
Town won 3-0... I’ll say that again... Town won 3-0, but as PSG found out last night, there is no such thing as a healthy first leg lead in Camp Nou.
Just a couple of weeks later, Town were put in their place in front of 100,000 baying Spanish fans, losing 3-0, then 3-1 on penalties.
A brave effort from Bobby Robson’s team.
But I digress... back to Wednesday night.
I sat down with my youngest son to watch the game, expecting a bit of an initial Barca onslaught, but surely PSG were too good to lose a 4-0 lead.
However, when Luis Suarez scored within three minutes you had a sense something might be on the cards. It was 2-0 to Barca at half-time and when Lionel Messi scored a penalty a few minutes into the second half, it was game on.
And then surely game over.
Edinson Cavani’s volley on the hour for PSG made it 3-1, the precious away goal secured and that was that, wasn’t it?
Barca needed three goals, now there were just seven minutes left.
What happened next will stay with me forever.
Neymar, who up to then had spent most of his time what I would call ‘show ponying’ on the left wing, produced the most superb seven minutes from a single player I can remember.
First he thumped home a 20-yard free-kick from an angle (4-1) and then cooly netted a penalty after Suarez went down easily (5-1).
We are now talking seconds to go here and even my youngest son has stopped taking SnapChat texts from his mates to stare at the TV.
No, surely not.
Thirty seconds left and Neymar picks up the ball after his own free-kick is cleared. He doesn’t panic, beats a man and then dinks the most gorgeous chip into the box for Sergi Roberto to expertly volley home - 6-1.
Cue, absolute scenes.
Even in the Bacon household we were out of our seats screaming. Walking round the room holding our heads. What has just happened?
Grown men crying, people all over the place, on the pitch, running aimlessly in all directions.
Apparently at its peak at 21:46, there were 83,565 tweets sent in just one minute about the game on Twitter - including mine, which probably made no sense as I was all over the place to – I was still in a daze 30 minutes later.
Since, I have tried to remember big footballing highlights in my lifetime. Not just comebacks.
Michael Thomas’ goal against Liverpool in injury time to win Arsenal the League in 1989. That was pretty special, as was Liverpool winning the 2005 Champions League final despite trailing 3-0 at half-time.
Closer to home, my favourite ITFC comeback is, ironcially at this week’s opponents Barnsley, back in 1996, when Town were 3-0 down with eight minutes to go, but drew 3-3 thanks to Ian Marshall (2) and Simon Milton.
That was exciting, don’t get me wrong... But nowhere near as exciting as Barcelona’s efforts last night.
WHAT is the greatest footballing comeback you have ever witnessed? Let us know below. Or was the Barcelona one, the best you have seen