The resumption of the Champions League in a World Cup-style format produced great drama. Bayern Munich thrashed Barcelona 8-2, Lyon shocked Manchester City 3-1 and Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig produced late goals to knock out Atalanta and Atletico Madrid. We recently looked at the greatest Champions League finals and the tournament’s top upsets. Now we turn our attention to the most exciting Champions League games of all time.
Most exciting Champions League games
Borussia Dortmund 8-4 Legia Warsaw (2016)
One to forget for Legia Warsaw fans, this 12-goal thriller in the 2016-17 season remains the top-scoring match in Champions League history.
Legia actually took the lead but a Shinji Kagawa quickfire double made it 2-1 and, after just 22 minutes, seven goals had been scored. All in all, eight different players scored with Marco Reus and Aleksandar Prijovic both bagging braces along with Kagawa.
Dortmund had put six past Legia earlier in the group stage and topped Group F as a result. The Polish side won’t have enjoyed it but it was undoubtedly one of the most exciting Champions League games.
Ajax 5-2 Bayern Munich (1995)
The first leg of this semi-final clash had ended goalless. There were few signs of the madness to come in the return game in Amsterdam.
Jari Litmanen put the Dutch side ahead and they led 3-1 by half-time after further goals from Finidi George and Ronald de Boer, with Marcel Witeczek on target in response for Bayern.
Litmanen scored his second shortly after half-time to extend Ajax’s lead to a three-goal cushion with Marc Overmars wrapping up the scoring late on after Mehmet Scholl’s penalty.
Ajax went on to lift the trophy that year, with Patrick Kluivert’s goal enough to down AC Milan.
Inter Milan 3-1 Barcelona (2010)
Inter produced this superb team performance on their way to winning the treble in 2010 under Jose Mourinho, with a thrilling game of attack versus defence.
Pep Guardiola’s men were the holders and strong favourites to go on and win the tournament again, but they found it impossible to break down Mourinho’s determined defence. They did take the lead, though, with Pedro on target but Wesley Sneijder slammed in the equaliser after being set up by Diego Milito, who then teed up Maicon to make it 2-1.
Inevitably, it was Milito who scored the decisive goal to secure the victory for Inter, who progressed to the final despite a 1-0 defeat in the second leg at Camp Nou. Milito was then the hero for Inter in the final, with his brace downing Bayern 2-0 in Madrid.
Inter only had four shots on target but they were clinical, scoring three of them, with Guardiola’s men seemingly leggy after having to make a 14-hour coach journey to Milan. Air travel had been affected by a volcanic ash cloud caused by the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano.
Through the sheer clash of styles, this was one of the most exciting games in Champions League history.
Liverpool 3-1 Olympiakos (2004)
In the same season that Liverpool produced an implausible comeback to beat AC Milan and win the final in Istanbul, they needed heroics from Steven Gerrard to keep them in the tournament again Greek side Olympiakos.
The Reds had to win by two clear goals in order to progress through the group stage and their task looked tough when Brazilian great Rivaldo scored a free-kick to open the scoring.
Florent Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor struck to turn the game around for Rafael Benitez’s side at Anfield before Gerrard struck home a wonderful late finish from fully 25 yards to ensure Liverpool just about did enough.
It was vintage Gerrard and this gave Liverpool hope that they could always find a way to win, a message they would need later in the tournament.
Manchester United 7-1 Roma (2007)
One-sided games are not always entertaining to watch but this was one of the best European performances that Manchester United ever produced under Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Red Devils had lost the first leg of this quarter-final 2-1 in Rome, with Paul Scholes having been sent off, but a young Cristiano Ronaldo inspired a hammering in the return game.
Michael Carrick, Alan Smith and Wayne Rooney were all on target before Ronaldo struck the fourth to surely seal United’s progression into the semi-finals.
They were not done, though, with Ryan Giggs adding their fifth. Carrick netted his second of the game and Patrice Evra completed the scoring after Daniele De Rossi notched a consolation.
Ronaldo was unplayable on the night, but United were knocked out by AC Milan in the semis. One of the most exciting games in Champions League history through the sheer verve of United’s unplayable attack.
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