Greatest comebacks

The beauty of sport is reflected after sensational triumph

By Emma Bird.   Last Updated: 02/10/12 12:29pm

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After an absolutely thrilling finale to the Ryder Cup late on Sunday night, the unpredictability of professional sport was once again highlighted.

There is never a certainty when it comes to sport, as the European team proved when staging one of the most dramatic, intense comebacks sport has ever seen.

Having been 10-4 down late on Saturday, Jose Maria Olazabal's disciples took their American rivals all the way in Medinah to win in phenomenal style, 14 ½ -13 ½.

Here, we look at some of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time.

1981 - England v Australia, Third Ashes Test, Headingley

The Third Ashes Test against Australia in the summer of 1981 saw England in a very troubled position. Ian Botham had just resigned as captain and they were 1-0 down after two Tests.

However, in a remarkable comeback, inspired by one sportsman in particular, Botham, England won the next three Tests to finish 3-1 winners (with two draws), and therefore they retained the Ashes.

With the series now known commonly as 'Botham's Ashes', due to his great displays with both bat and ball, he produced one of the greatest innings ever, ending on 149 not out and giving England a lead of 124.

1953 - FA Cup final, Blackpool v Bolton Wanderers

This was a football match that will forever be known as the 'The Matthews Final', after Blackpool's Stanley Matthews put in a performance at Wembley that etched his name in the history books.

Blackpool won the match 4-3, with Blackpool's Stan Mortensen scoring a hat-trick, yet it is not this feat for which the game held on 2nd May 1953 is necessarily remembered.

Rather it is the stunning display by winger Matthews which is always talked about.

After being 3-1 down against Bolton Wanderers, the Blackpool comeback was ignited by Matthew's passion and skill on the pitch. With just 22 minutes remaining, his cross from the right wing was met by Mortensen who scored their second goal and went on to complete his hat-trick with less than two minutes remaining.

In an electrifying final few seconds, Matthews again crossed from the right wing to find the feet of Bill Perry, who scored to make it a 4-3 victory for Blackpool.

1985 - Snooker World Championships (Dennis Taylor)

The 1985 World Championship final was an epic encounter which saw defending champion Steve Davis lose 18-17 to Northern Irishman Dennis Taylor.

The April night saw record viewing figures as the country watched Taylor edge unassailable Davis on the final black of the final frame, in a sporting moment that has lived long in the memory of millions.

1999 - Rugby World Cup semi-final, France 43-31 New Zealand

This game is regarded by many as one of, if not the, greatest game in Rugby World Cup's history.

With the match being played at Twickenham, France denied the All Blacks a berth in the final, after battling back in superb style.

Ahead of the match, France were not given a chance, with New Zealand outstanding favourites to win the William Webb Ellis Trophy.

It seemed that the overwhelming majority would be proved right as France slipped 24-10 behind.

However, in probably the biggest turnaround in rugby history, they added 33 points to just seven from the All Blacks for an astounding victory.

Christophe Lamaison was the absolute shining star of the match, particularly with his kicking as he didn't miss a single one all match.

1999 - Manchester United v Bayern Munich, European Cup final

In the stunning setting of Camp Nou in Barcelona, this European Cup final remains one of the most electrifying footballing displays witnessed in recent times.

The match, held on the 26 May 1999, saw Manchester United score two goals in injury time to clinch the 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich, after trailing for the majority of the match.

Alex Ferguson's men, captained by Peter Schmeichel, sealed the treble after this match, having already claimed the FA Cup and Premier League titles that season.

1996 - Nick Faldo Masters

The 1996 US Masters at Augusta will always be renowned for Greg Norman's collapse which led to Nick Faldo winning a third Masters title.

Norman blew a six-shot lead on the final day at Augusta as Faldo went on to claim his sixth and final major championship victory.

2012 - Wasps v Harlequins at Twickenham

On the 1st September 2012, Harlequins fought back from 40-13 down against Wasps, pulling off one of the most extraordinary victories ever seen at the home of English rugby.

It was a thrilling start to the new Aviva Premiership season, with the champions finding themselves 27 points down with 22 minutes left.

However Quins scored four tries to seize an astonishing 42-40 win in a match which will be remembered for a long while to come.

2005 - Liverpool v AC Milan, Champions League

In one of the most sensational nights in Champions League history, Liverpool came from three goals down at half-time to beat AC Milan 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out to win the Champions League.

The atmosphere in Istanbul on the May night in 2005 was electrifying, as Liverpool staged a comeback that saw them score three goals in a highly dramatic six-minute period to level the scores at 3-3.

Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso and Vladimir Smicer scored the goals and took the match into extra time and then to penalties.

1973 - Red Rum, Aintree Grand National

It was common belief that Crisp had won the 1973 Grand National from the start.

He was left on his own, with the rest of the field so far out of sight, victory was all-but certain.

However, from 25 lengths back, Red Rum was the horse who was to stage a fighting comeback, trying to reel in Crisp from a significant distance.

Red Rum, though, was still around 30 lengths behind with just two fences remaining but this is when Crisp began to falter and Red Rum took advantage and got up two strides from the line. This is still known as one of the greatest Grand Nationals in history.

1972 - Lasse Viren, Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are associated with sporting talent, strength and determination, and Finnish long-distance runner Lasse Viren showed all of these characteristics in abundance in 1972.

It was during the 10,000m final that he tripped and fell on the 12th lap which appeared to shatter his Olympic dream. However, with only two laps remaining, he recovered to catch the leading pack and win the gold medal in Munich. To add to this, he also went on to win gold in the 5,000m a week later.

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