Secrets of sports betting Sport

Leaving it late

Written by Ben Blaschke

For the losing side or player it’s usually labelled a “choke”, for the winners it’s remembered as a brilliant comeback. But whichever way you view it, there are certain sporting moments that live long in the memory when the seemingly impossible became reality.

That was certainly the case for Real Madrid in Saturday’s Champions League final. Trailing 1-0 midway through the first half, they tried in vain to grab an equalizer for the next 55 minutes until – with all hope just about lost – they grabbed that magic goal deep into added time before going on to win it 4-1.

Real’s stunning win prompted us to look back at five of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time – proof that it really isn’t ever over until the fat lady sings.

2005 Champions League final – Liverpool v AC Milan
Liverpool had already produced a miracle to make the knockout stages of the Champions League in 2005, with Steven Gerrard producing a stunning 85th-minute strike to score the two-goal win over Olympiakos they needed to progress. Having then continued all the way to the final against Italian giants AC Milan, they would need to do much better to recover from a 3-0 halftime deficit. But then came seven amazing minutes. Gerrard began the fight back when he headed in a cross in the 54th minute. Two minutes later Vladamir Smicer fired in a shot from the edge of the box to make it 3-2. And just three minutes after that Gerrard was brought down in the box. Xabi Alonso’s penalty was saved but he followed through to smash in the rebound and level the scores. The match eventually went to penalties with Liverpool capping their stunning comeback with victory.

2013 America’s Cup
It was the comeback that stunned the world – so much so that even those of us who usually pay zero attention to sailing were captivated as the USA’s Team Oracle began to close the gap on Team New Zealand. The America’s Cup sees a series of up to 17 individual races between the two competing teams with the first to win nine races claiming the trophy. Although Team Oracle entered the 2013 event as hot favorites, they were stunned early on by the speed of the New Zealanders who raced to an 8-1 lead and needed just one more win to claim the America’s Cup. The next race also saw New Zealand jump out to a big lead, but Oracle got lucky – the rules state that each race must be completed within 40 minutes or it would have to start again. Low winds that day means the Kiwis didn’t quite reach the finish in time so the race was run again a few hours later. This time Oracle prevailed to close the gap to 8-2. Then they did it again, and again. Soon it was 8-8 and history was about to be made. With momentum on their side, Team Oracle won the final race by 44 seconds to complete the most incredible comeback of all time.

2004 – Houston v San Antonio
It might not be as memorable as some of the great finals finishes, but no game in NBA history has seen such a remarkable comeback as Houston’s thrilling win over San Antonio during the regular season in 2004. Trailing by 10 points with 53 seconds remaining, Houston guard Tracy McGrady went on a hot streak that saw him shoot 13 points in 35 seconds including the match-winning 3-pointer with less than two seconds remaining. His run included four consecutive three-pointers – one of them a brilliant four-point – in one of the all-time great “at the death” performances.

2012 Roosters v Souths and Souths v Roosters
If one amazing comeback wasn’t enough, nobody could quite believe it when the same two sides that had produced the first thriller did it again just a few months later. In Round 1 of Australia’s 2012 rugby league season, traditional rivals South Sydney and the Sydney Roosters met in the season opener with Souths taking what looked to be a match-winning 20-12 lead into the final three minutes. But big Jared Waerea-Hargreaves crashed over for a try to close the gap to 20-18, then with the last play of the game the Roosters made another break and Boyd Cordner kicked ahead for Anthony Minichiello to regather and score the winner. Incredibly, in Round 19 Souths returned the favor in identical fashion. Trailing 22-12 with less than two minutes remaining, Nathan Merritt scored to put them within touching distance, then directly from the kick-off Souths made a break down the left and Adam Reynolds scored an unbelievable try for them to win 24-22.

1993 Wimbledon final – Steffi Graf v Jana Novotna
Truth be told, this was more about Jana Novotna’s epic meltdown that Steffi Graf’s comeback win. But memorable it certainly was. Novotna led 6-7, 6-4, 4-1 and had a point for 5-1 to win her first ever major, but a double fault began one of sport’s most dramatic chokes. Within 10 minutes, Novotna had fallen apart completely as Graf prevailed 6-4 in the final set. The loss led to the enduring scene of the Czech crying on the shoulder of the Duchess of Kent as the realisation of how close she had come dawned on her. Never fear, five years later Novotna finally won the Wimbledon crown she so craved, while Graf finisher her career with seven Wimbledon titles and 22 Grand Slams overall.