It may be August and not April but rejoice and be thankful – the Champions League has reached the quarter-final stage.
The competition regularly produces brilliant match-ups at this stage, and this year’s mini knockout tournament in Portugal means it could be even more special.
But what are your favourite last-eight ties of the past 20 years or so? We’ve looked back and picked out a top 10 for you – and you can vote for the best at the bottom. Enjoy!
Table Of Contents
- 1 2003 – Real Madrid 6-5 Manchester United
- 2 2004 – AC Milan 4-5 Deportivo la Coruna
- 3 2007 – Roma 3-8 Manchester United
- 4 2008 – Arsenal 3-5 Liverpool
- 5 2009 – Liverpool 5-7 Chelsea
- 6 2010 – Bayern Munich 4-4 Manchester United (Bayern win on away goals)
- 7 2010 – Arsenal 3-6 Barcelona
- 8 2013 – Malaga 2-3 Borussia Dortmund
- 9 2018 – Barcelona 4-4 Roma (Roma win on away goals)
- 10 2019 – Tottenham 4-4 Manchester City (Tottenham win on away goals)
2003 – Real Madrid 6-5 Manchester United
Star players: Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Raul, Ruud van Nistelrooy, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Just a few months before Cristiano Ronaldo moved in and made Old Trafford home, Brazilian superstar Ronaldo did just the same with a devastating example of his genius.
Holders Real won the first leg 3-1 with a Raul double and a Figo fluke. But a 2-0 win in the second leg would have sent Sir Alex Ferguson’s men through and hopes were high of reaching a final on their home ground.
Ronaldo’s first goal saw him leave Rio Ferdinand in his wake to sprint on to a through ball and then smash a shot past Fabian Barthez before the keeper could react. His second was a perfect team goal – Zidane slicing United open, Roberto Carlos rolling it across goal for a tap-in.
His hat-trick goal on the hour mark was the pick, as he collected the ball deep, before evading Mikael Silvestre and flashing a 25-yarder past Barthez and in. Trademark smile time.
He was given a standing ovation by the whole ground when he came off later. And there was still time for Madrid-bound Beckham to come on and score twice…
2004 – AC Milan 4-5 Deportivo la Coruna
Star players: Kaka, Andriy Shevchenko, Andrea Pirlo, Paolo Maldini, Cafu, Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron, Albert Luque
Long before Liverpool made overturning a massive first-leg defeat a thing, Deportivo la Coruna saw off the mighty Milan with an incredible second-leg effort.
The Spanish side actually took the lead in the first leg at the San Siro, but Kaka, Shevchenko and Pirlo handed out a 4-1 whipping that looked set to send holders the Rossoneri into the last four once more.
But instead Milan saw their lead wiped out by three goals inside the first 43 minutes.
Future Birmingham loanee Pandiani fired the first after five minutes, before Valeron headed a second and Newcastle flop Luque put Deportivo ahead on aggregate.
Substitute Gonzalez Fran added a fourth to finish Milan’s challenge as they joined Real Madrid and Arsenal in suffering shock defeats that season.
2007 – Roma 3-8 Manchester United
Star players: Francesco Totti, Daniele de Rossi, Christian Panucci, Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand
Some ties are memorable for being close and going down to the wire. Some stay in the brain for being anything but close.
Manchester United lost the first leg of their quarter-final in Rome in 2007 but responded in magisterial fashion. Three goals in eight minutes from Michael Carrick, Alan Smith and Rooney turned the tie on its head at Old Trafford and they didn’t take their collective foot off the accelerator all night.
Carrick got another, Patrice Evra scored and Ronaldo scored twice – his first Champions League goals – in a 7-1 rout.
2008 – Arsenal 3-5 Liverpool
Star players: Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Peter Crouch, Xabi Alonso
Another excellent second leg, with Anfield seeing perhaps the best of Theo Walcott as his amazing run set up Arsenal’s second away goal on the night to put them ahead on away goals with just six minutes left.
Liverpool needed an instant response and got it – from Ryan Babel of all people. First, he won a penalty which Gerrard converted and then the Dutchman scored himself in added time to seal a third semi-final against Chelsea in four years.
2009 – Liverpool 5-7 Chelsea
Star players: Gerrard, Torres, Alonso, Dider Drogba, Frank Lampard, Michael Ballack, Branislav Ivanovic
This last-eight classic was in the balance right until the final minute of an incredible second leg.
Ivanovic was the (then) unlikely hero for the Blues at Anfield, heading in his first two Chelsea goals to help secure a 3-1 win which looked to have banked the away goals needed to progress.
That left a Gerrard-less Liverpool needing to score three times at the Bridge. Which they did – they were 2-0 up inside half an hour – but they also shipped four goals on the night in a remarkable 4-4 draw.
Lampard’s late double eventually settled the tie.
2010 – Bayern Munich 4-4 Manchester United (Bayern win on away goals)
Star players: Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Philipp Lahm, Rooney, Nani, Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic
It was all going so well for Manchester United. After a 2-1 defeat in Munich, a Darron Gibson strike and two goals by Nani had Ferguson’s side set for the semi-finals once again.
United had reached the past two finals and Wayne Rooney was in the form of his life. But Ivica Olic bundled in a scruffy goal just before half-time and Rafael was sent off shortly after the restart.
Bayern needed just one more away goal to progress and found it in spectacular fashion, Robben brilliantly volleying in from the edge of the area.
2010 – Arsenal 3-6 Barcelona
Star players: Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Nicklas Bendtner, Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Xavi, Dani Alves
Sometimes you can play well in the last eight and then just come up against genius.
Arsenal played their part in both legs of this classic, coming from 2-0 down at home to draw 2-2 and then taking the lead in the Nou Camp through Bendtner.
That goal just triggered Messi into life though. The Argentine Einstein would have his hat-trick before half-time, and ended the night with all four Barca goals.
His hat-trick goal was the pick of the bunch, an effortless chip over the head of Manuel Almunia. Sheer class.
2013 – Malaga 2-3 Borussia Dortmund
Star players: Isco, Joaquin, Martin Demichelis, Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus, Mario Gotze, Ilkay Gundogan
It was the night when Jurgen Klopp really came to the forefront of a lot of British football fans’ minds.
Eliseu’s 82nd-minute goal put Malaga, in their first Champions League campaign, 2-1 up on the night and leaving Dortmund needing to score twice to get through.
Going into added time they still needed two, but incredibly found them in front of the yellow wall. Reus and then Felipe Santana struck for the German side, although the winning goal – poked home from a matter of inches – looked offside.
“I think I have to go to the doctor, but it was really crazy,” said Klopp.
2018 – Barcelona 4-4 Roma (Roma win on away goals)
Star players: Messi, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Gerard Pique, De Rossi, Edin Dzeko, Alisson, Radja Nainggolan
I’ll hand over to BT Sport maestro Peter Drury for this one. Roma lost the first leg in Spain 4-1 but somehow shut out Messi and co and took the 3-0 lead they needed when defender Kostas Manolas headed in late on.
“Roma have risen from their ruins!” Drury bellowed. “Manolas, the Greek god in Rome! The unthinkable unfolds before our eyes!
“This was not meant to happen. This could not happen. This IS happening. It’s a Greek from Mount Olympus who has come to the seven hills of Rome and pulled off a miracle!”
2019 – Tottenham 4-4 Manchester City (Tottenham win on away goals)
Star players: Son Heung-min, Christian Eriksen, Lucas Moura, Fernando Llorente, Raheem Sterling, Sergio Aguero, Kevin de Bruyne, Bernardo Silva
Tottenham may have lost the final last year but they had two knockout ties for the ages back to back. Before the incredible win over Ajax in Amsterdam came the improbable job in Manchester as a late, late video assistant referee (VAR) call helped send them through.
Spurs were protecting a 1-0 lead from the first leg but an opening 21 minutes of chaotic brilliance saw City lead 3-2 on the night as both teams exchanged goals at will.
Son and Sterling scored twice each and Silva also got in on the act in a crazy start. Aguero put City 4-2 up on the night but Llorente’s clumsy, bundled header – via his arm – put Spurs back on top on away goals.
In a game of relentless drama, City even thought they had won it in injury time only for Sterling’s goal to be ruled out for offside by VAR.