Awesome: UEFA Champions League

  • Over the years, the European Cup and later the UEFA Champions League have provided landmark moments in entire seasons of awesome.
    • In the pre-Champions League era, one of the most dominant single seasons in world football was achieved by Ajax Amsterdam in 1971-72. The "Total Football" system, in which any of the ten outfield players could slide into any defensive, midfield, or attacking role as the situation dictated, was unlike anything European football had ever seen, and almost no club had any idea how to respond to it. With a side featuring the backbone of the Netherlands national team, including Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Ruud Krol, Arie Haan, and superstar Johan Cruyff, Ajax won the Eredivisienote  with thirty wins (including all seventeen home matches, part of a 46-match home winning streak that also spanned the following season), three draws, and just one loss, scoring 104 goals and conceding just 20. They also won the KNVB Cupnote  with a 3-2 victory over FC Den Haag in the final, the European Cup with a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan (who were so flummoxed by the Total Football system that they spent most of the match desperately defending), the (unofficial) first European Super Cup with a 6-3 aggregate win over European Cup Winners' Cup winners Rangers FC of Glasgownote , and the Intercontinental Cup with a 4-1 aggregate win over Independiente of Argentina.
    • In 2009, Spanish football giants FC Barcelona managed to win a staggering six major trophies in domestic, European, and world competition.note  They won La Liganote  by a margin of nine points over second-placed Real Madrid, defeated Atletico Bilbao 4-1 in the final of the Copa del Reynote , beat Manchester United 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League final, scored a 5-1 aggregate victory over Atletico Bilbao in the Supercopa de Españanote , defeated Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 in the UEFA Super Cup finalnote , and capped it off with a 2-1 win over Argentinian club Estudiantes in the final of the FIFA World Club Cupnote . Special mention should go to the performance of Argentinian striker Lionel Messi, who scored 23 goals in La Liganote , a goal each in the finals of the Copa del Rey and UEFA Champions League, two goals in the second leg of the Supercopa de España, and the winning goal in the FIFA World Club Cup final (in which he was named man of the match and the best player of the tournament), for which achievements he won both the Ballon d'Ornote  and the FIFA World Player of the Year award.
    • Italian club Inter Milan came very close to duplicating Barcelona's feat in 2010, winning the Serie Anote  by two points over second-placed AS Roma, beating Roma 1-0 in the final of the Coppa Italianote , scoring a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League final, defeating Roma 3-1 in the Supercoppa Italiananote , and defeating TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of the Congo 3-0 in the FIFA World Club Cup finalnote . Only the UEFA Super Cup eluded them as they went down 2-0 to 2010 Europa League champions Atletico Madrid.
    • In 2011, Barcelona came within one trophy of repeating their feat of 2009, winning La Liga by two points over second-placed Real Madrid, the UEFA Champions League in a 3-1 triumph over their 2009 opponents Manchester United, the Supercopa de España in a 5-4 aggregate win against Real Madrid, the UEFA Super Cup with a 2-0 victory over FC Porto of Portugal, and the FIFA World Club Cup with a 4-0 trouncing of Brazilian club Santos. Only the Copa del Rey eluded them, Real Madrid beating them 1-0 after extra time in the final. As in 2009, Lionel Messi particularly stood out with 31 goals in La Liganote , a goal in the UEFA Champions League final (in which he was named man of the match), three goals across the two legs of the Supercopa de España, a goal in the UEFA Super Cup, and two goals in the FIFA World Club Cup final (in which he was again named man of the match and the best player of the tournament), all of which propelled him to the UEFA Best Player in Europe awardnote  and the FIFA Ballon d'Or for the third year in a row.
    • In 2013, German club Bayern Munich came equally close to duplicating Barcelona's feat of 2009. They stormed to perhaps the most dominant championship in the history of the Bundesliganote  by a 25-point margin over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, defeated VfB Stuttgart 3-2 in the DFB-Pokal finalnote , overcame fellow Germans Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League final, beat English club Chelsea FC 5-4 on penalties after the UEFA Super Cup final finished 2-2 after 120 minutes, and scored a 2-0 win over Moroccan club Raja Casablanca in the FIFA World Club Cup final. Only the DFL-Supercupnote  eluded them, as Borussia Dortmund avenged their Champions League final defeat with a 4-2 win. Interestingly, from the DFL-Supercup final onwards, they were managed by the same man who had led Barcelona to six trophies in one season (and came close to doing so twice), Pep Guardiola.
  • Celtic's win over Inter Milan in the 1967 final (the first European Cup win for a British club) was considered not just a CMOA for Celtic, but a victory for football (with Inter Milan's manager even saying that), with Celtic's attacking power overcoming Inter Milan's Catenaccio (a more defensive system) and overturning a 1-0 deficit to win the trophy. Also a CMOA for Scottish football; all eleven Celtic players and manager Jock Stein were born within 30 miles of Glasgow (in fact, with the exception of Ayrshire native Bobby Lennox, they were all from what would be considered the greater Glasgow area). That same year, Celtic also won the Scottish League, the Scottish League Cup, the Scottish Cup, and the Glasgow Cup, a grand slam unparalleled in British football.note 
  • Madjer's goal for Porto against Bayern Munich in the 1987 Cup Final. It was the equalizer that turned the game in Porto's favour (the second goal came just three minutes later, scored by Juary). Porto won 2-1 and got their first Champions Cup. It remains one of the greatest moments in Porto's history and is still fondly remembered even by fans who weren't born then. Pelé is believed to have said of this goal: "It would have been the greatest goal I have ever seen, if he had not looked back at it."
  • The 1999 final, Manchester United vs. Bayern Munich. Bayern scored first, in the 6th minute, and after the standard 90 minutes had elapsed, it looked like it was all over bar the shouting. United then goes on to score two goals, in injury time, to win the match and the championship - literally at the last possible moment. UEFA president Lennart Johansson had left the stands a few minutes before United equalised, and did not see either goal. When he walked out with the trophy, he said, "It cannot be. The winners are crying and the losers are dancing."
    • This capped off a historic season for Manchester United which also saw them win the Premier League and FA Cup. This also led to an Epic Fail for Bayern Munich, as they were on course to complete that same feat in Germany and the German season ends after the English, but after they lost to United, they also lost the DFB-Pokal final to Werder Bremen and only ended up winning the Bundesliga.
    • Clive Tyldesley's call of the winning goal on ITV was awesome: "Beckham, into Sheringham, AND SOLSKJAER HAS WON IT!"
  • The 2002 final between Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid. Raúl scored an impressive goal at minute 8 by taking advantage of a lapse in concentration by Bayer's back. Lúcio managed to tie five minutes later. First half is about to finish, when Roberto Carlos kicks the ball high into the sky. Zidane sees the ball, readies himself... and manages to volley the ball on the corner of the goal with an impressive kick. See it here.
  • The 2005 final, AC Milan vs. Liverpool. AC Milan had won the tournament two years previously and entered the final overwhelming favourites with a side that featured seven players who had been named in the previous year's FIFA 100; Liverpool, who had no FIFA 100 players on their roster, had not won the tournament since 1984. AC Milan took the lead in the first minute of the match and completely outplayed Liverpool to finish the first half with a 3-0 lead. Eight minutes into the second half, Liverpool managed to score three goals in six minutes (including a rebound from a missed penalty) and held their ground through extra time to force a penalty shootout, in which Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek saved two penalties and a third missed the goalmouth to give Liverpool a 3-2 win. The match has since become known by Liverpool fans as "The Miracle of Istanbul".
    • To add to the awesome factor, the 2005 win was Liverpool's fifth, making them the first (and last) English club to be given the trophy permanently.note  Moreover, Liverpool had very nearly failed to progress past the group stage in the competition, needing to beat Olympiacos Piraeus of Greece by two clear goals in their final group match and only scoring the deciding goal in the last ten minutes.
  • The 2009 Chelsea-Barcelona semifinal was an awesome moment for Barcelona. After a 0-0 draw (with a denied penalty for Barcelona) at Camp Nou, where Chelsea did a great job stopping the locals' famous football, they took advantage of the home support and scored first, forcing the Spaniards to draw the match to get to the final on away goals. The referee denied Chelsea a few arguable penalties (and a rather clear one), and instead gave out a straight red card to the Barcelona player Abidal for pretty much being near a Chelsea player who collapsed during a run to the goal, forcing them to spend the last 30 minutes with one player down. Chelsea felt they had the job done and put on some more defenders. In the 92nd minute, Andrés Iniesta scored the equalizer, starting a massive celebration by the Barcelona fans (he pulled off a similar feat during the 2010 World Cup - someone said, "He doesn't score too many goals, but when he does, they go all over the world").
    • And to top it off, that victory caused a baby boom in Catalonia.
    • Chelsea would get their revenge three years later. Barcelona needed to win by two goals at Camp Nou after losing 1-0 at Stamford Bridge. Egged on by the home crowd, and with one Chelsea defender (Gary Cahill) injured early on and another (John Terry) sent off, Barcelona raced into a two-goal lead. However, Chelsea's Ramires scored a spectacular goal to pull back and give Chelsea the lead on away goals just before half time, before Leo Messi missed a penalty. Barcelona spent much of the second half trying to break through the Chelsea defence (at 2-1, Chelsea would go through on away goals), before, in stoppage time, Chelsea's misfiring striker Fernando Torres broke free in the Barcelona half and rounded the keeper before putting the ball in the empty net and sending Chelsea through on aggregate.
  • When Tottenham Hotspur played European Champions Inter away from home in the 2010-11 group stage, they were saved from a humiliating 4-0 loss by Gareth Bale, who scored a hat-trick to make the final score a flattering 4-3. This would have been a CMOA in of itself, if it wasn't for the fact that when Inter came to Tottenham, Bale destroyed them again, although this time, it was a CMOA for the whole team as well, as Tottenham went on to win 3-1.
  • Chelsea winning the final in 2012. They went 1-0 down with seven minutes left, when with 2 minutes remaining Didier Drogba scored the equaliser and the match went into extra time. Then in extra time, Bayern Munich missed a penalty. Then it went to penalties, and at one miss each Bastian Schweinsteiger struck the post with his spot kick, and up stepped Didier Drogba to win the competition.
  • Celtic beating Barcelona 2-1 in the 2012-13 Champions League Group Stage, partly because Barcelona had, until this point in the season, been undefeated in all competitions (domestic and European) and were heavily favoured to make short work of Celtic.note 
  • The 2013 semi-finals provided an extended moment of awesome for German football. The draw pitted the top two German sides, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, against the (more favoured) top two Spanish sides, Barcelona and Real Madrid. Bayern Munich proceeded to run rampant in both legs of their semi-final against Barcelona, winning 4-0 in Munich and 3-0 in Barcelona to progress 7-0 on aggregate and hand Barcelona by far their worst aggregate defeat in European competition. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, beat Real Madrid 4-1 at home (with all four Dortmund goals scored by Polish striker Robert Lewandowski) and fended off a comeback by Madrid in the second leg to advance 4-3 on aggregate, setting the stage for the first all-German Champions' League final (won 2-1 by Bayern Munich after an 89th minute winner from Arjen Robben, exorcising the ghosts of their final defeats in 2010 and 2012) and capping a decade-long rebuilding process in German football as a whole.
  • Ludogorets, a Bulgarian minnow club, had awesome moments of their own in 2014. In the playoff round against Steaua Bucuresti, goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was sent off in extra time, forcing defender Cosmin Moti to stand in net for the penalty shootout. He saved two shots in front of the home crowd to send Ludogorets to the group stages for the first time in their history. The Cinderella story continued in group play, when they beat Basel 1-0 and put real scares in giants Real Madrid and Liverpool.
  • After 12 years of frustrations and embarrasing defeats in the Champions League,note  Real Madrid finally won their long-coveted 10th title, and did so after having defeated three powerful German clubs in a row (including Bayern Munich, which had been historically one of the most difficult rivals for Real Madrid). The runner-up, Atletico de Madrid, had a fantastic campaign as well, as they reached the finals by defeating high-tier opponents like Porto, Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea, to reach what was their first final in 40 years.
  • 2015 Round of 16, Second leg of Chelsea vs. Paris Saint Germain. Midway through the first half, Oscar dives close to Zlatan, who is sent off with a straight red. PSG are down to 10 men. Chelsea score in the 79', but PSG equalize in the 85'. Game proceeds to extra time on a 2-2 aggregate. Chelsea scored early, 3-2. Second half of ET. Thiago Silva puts in a goal in the 114' and the game ends 2-2. Due to PSG scoring 2 at Chelsea, with Chelsea only scoring 1 at PSG, PSG advances on away goals.