Liverpool might be a club famed for its fighting spirit to engineer comebacks, but history paints a different picture, one that tells us they are not immuned to sustaining remarkable collapses themselves. Here are the best five:
5. Southampton – Liverpool 3-3
Back in 2000, when every league in England looked ‘minus tier’, Southampton and Liverpool met in a match that would’ve made control-freak Pep Guardiola pull his hair out for its unpredictability. Luckily for him, he was still unaware of the big-bad world of the Premier League.
But if Guardiola was in the sunset of his playing career in sunny Spain, another iconic midfielder was in its dawn, Steven Gerrard. None of them played a key role in this match.
Michael Owen opened his tally in the 24th minute. Sami Hyypia doubled Liverpool’s lead in the 54th minute, and then Owen seemed to put the game beyond doubt ten minutes later.
Southampton had reserved their best for last: his name, Marian Pahars. In the space of 17 minutes, a brace by him and Tahar El Khalej gave Liverpool a blueprint for comeback exploits of their own.
4. Manchester United – Liverpool 3-3
It was the dawn of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United when the two rivals met in 1988. Liverpool had dominated England for over a decade but were heading into the match following two successive defeats while Untied sat second in the table.
Typically, Liverpool overcame a goal deficit courtesy of Peter Beardsley, Gary Gillespe and Steve McMahon to make it 3-1. This threw United into panic. Reduced to ten men and facing increasingly stronger attacking pressure from Liverpool, things looked grim for United, but with a bit of luck, Bryan Robson unleashed a shot which rolled past Gobbelaar after a deflection.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Gordon Strachan then completed the comeback and rubbed salt on the Liverpool faithful by pretending to smoke a cigar during the celebration.
3. Bournemouth – Liverpool 4-3
Jurgen Klopp stood there on the sideline with both hands on his head in disbelief. “We opened the door, and they ran through” he later described Bournemouth’s sensational comeback.
Liverpool were coming off a 12-games undefeated run and things looked to stay unchanged when Sadio Mane and Divock Origi put them up 2-0 in the space of two minutes. Little did they know, a changed Bournemouth side would emerge in the second half.
Callum Wilson converted from a penalty to reduce the disadvantage, but then Emre Can executed a curler from 20 yards that could dampen any team’s spirits.
Not the Boscombe’s. It took the two minutes in the last quarter of the match to cause an eruption, 3-3. They celebrated as if they had won the title, but there was more of the same in waiting because deep into injury time, Nathan Ake found himself with the ball at his feet facing open goal for the final nail in the coffin.
2. The 1990/91 season, the title turn around
The most disappointing comeback Liverpool have sustained is perhaps the one with the widest scope: a whole season. By 1990, Liverpool had picked up almost every domestic title since the mid-70s. They rode their confidence this season too.
By December that year, the Reds sat securedly at the top with a 10-point lead over second-placed Arsenal. The turning point was to be a 3-0 defeat to the Gunners at Highbury. By the end of January, Arsenal had over taken the Reds. A month later, Liverpool’s long-term manager had resigned. By the end of the season, Arsenal had donned the crown with a nine point lead.
1. Crystal Palace – Liverpool 3-3
This soul-crushing draw occurred during Liverpool first realistic title challenge in 24 years. Playing mid-tabled Crystal Palace away from home with one match to go, Liverpool were even on points with Manchester City; the smell of their first title in years in the air.
Nothing suggested the turn of events though as Joe Allen capped a terrific first-half performance by Liverpool with a goal. In a blitz second-half start, Palace’s Damien Delaney bagged an own goal to double the result before the club’s leading goal-scorer Luis Suarez made it 3-0.
Temporarily three points ahead of Manchester City with a game to go, the title looked in the bag. But the Premier League packs cruel punches often. And Palace packed the cruelest of them all. Delaney pulled one back merely two minutes before Dwight Gayle injected panic into Liverpool. Gayle then scored the equalizer in front of disbelieving Liverpool contingent.
It was a comeback worthy of Liverpool’s own against Milan in the Champions League final. It meant they lost the title to Manchester City.