With the Champions League heading into the latter stages, now is the time the remaining teams look to their star players to step up to the mark. Players have the chance to write their names into Champions League history as well as cement their place in the history of their respective clubs.
Here, we will be looking at 6 of the more memorable individual performances away from home in Champions League history, performances which grabbed the world’s attention.
6. Roy Keane vs Juventus (1999)
If omens were anything to go by heading into Manchester United’s semi final clash with Juventus, United had never won a game in Italy and Juventus had never lost to an English side at home. To add to this, Juventus had a crucial away goal to their name after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, and found themselves 2-0 up against United after 11 minutes.
United needed a miracle, up stepped Roy Keane. His header from a corner got his side back into the game after 25 minutes, and although a pursuing yellow card meant he’d miss the final should United make it, that didn’t stop the midfielder from performing.
Keane continued to be a threat in attack whilst also snuffing out any Juventus threat in defence, becoming a key influence all round the pitch. Goals from Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole followed to send united through to the final – which they would go onto win – and fans would have a lot to thank Keane for, with his performance ultimately sending them through.
5. Didier Drogba vs Bayern Munich (2012)
All odds were stacked against Chelsea heading into the 2012 Champions League final. The final was played at the Allianz Arena in Munich, meaning their opponents for the final Bayern Munich would be playing on home soil, however there was one man who would haunt Bayern.
After scoring the only goal in the first leg of Chelsea’s semi final against Barcelona, Drogba was keen to play a key role in the final. All looked to have been lost for Chelsea when Muller put Bayern 1-0 up with just seven minutes to go, however with just two minutes left, Drogba’s header came off the inside of the bar and past Manuel Neuer to keep their hopes alive.
The game went to penalties and after Schweinsteiger missed Bayern’s fifth penalty, it gave none other than Drogba the chance to win the Champions League for Chelsea, an opportunity he duly took. He sent Neuer the wrong way and Chelsea won the competition for the first time in the club’s history, and Drogba cemented his status as a club legend in doing so.
4. Thierry Henry vs Internazionale (2003)
Heading into their clash with Inter at the San Siro, Arsenal were on scintillating form in the Premier League, still yet to lose any of their first 13 games. However, their clash with the Italian giants posed a different threat. With the likes of Javier Zanetti, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Matterazi and Fabio Cannavaro in defence, they has arguable the strongest back line in football.
However this wasn’t to stop Henry. An exceptional display of pace and clinical finishing pursued, with Henry scoring twice himself and Arsenal running out 5-1 winners in an extraordinary display from Arsene Wenger’s men. Henry was the start of the show and alerted Europe’s top club of exactly what he was capable of.
3. Gareth Bale vs Internazionale (2010)
Tottenham headed into their clash with the reigning Champions League holders Inter Milan at the San Siro as serious underdogs, and proceedings couldn’t have started worse for the north London club when goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was sent off and Spurs found themselves 4-0 down at half time.
On the verge of embarrassment, up stepped Gareth Bale in a game that would ignite his career. Two almost identical dazzling runs ended in Bale finishing from almost impossible angles, beating Julio Cesar at his far post. He completed his hattrick with just minutes to go and although Tottenham lost 4-3, Bale put his name on the European map.
2. Steven Gerrard vs AC Milan (2005)
It was a fairytale story for Liverpool fans, however at half time in the 2005 Champions League final, it looked all but that for Liverpool fans. The Reds found themselves 3-0 down after two goals from Hernan Crespo and a third minute opener from Paulo Maldini. Liverpool had to step up, and up stepped their captain.
Steven Gerrard got his side back in the game just 10 minutes after half-time, and afterVladimir Smicer got Liverpool to within one goal of the Italians, Gerrard won the Reds a penalty after a driving run into the Milan defence. Xabi Alonso missed the penalty however followed up with the rebound to complete the comeback.
Under the leadership of Gerrard, Liverpool went onto win the game on penalties in what remains to be seen as the greatest comeback in the history of the competition.
1. Ronaldo vs Manchester United (2003)
Real Madrid headed into the second leg of their Champions League quarter final clash with Manchester United with a 3-1 advantage from the first leg. United were in the mood to cause what would’ve been a very unlikely upset, however Ronaldo had other plans. Every goal United scored seemed to be countered by a moment of brilliance by Ronaldo.
He went onto bag himself a hattrick and although Real lost the game 4-3, they ensured their passage to the semi finals after winning 6-5 on aggregate. It was a sensational hattrick, who’s blistering pace and neat finishing was too much for united to handle that day and remains to be seen as one of the best individual performances in Champions League history.