FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™

FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2020™

1 February - 11 February 2021

FIFA Club World Cup

Five unforgettable Club World Cup comebacks

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid celebrates with team mates after scoring his sides third goal during the FIFA Club World Cup Final match between Real Madrid and Kashima Antlers 
© Getty Images
  • We spotlight the best fightbacks in FIFA Club World Cup history
  • Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo inspired two
  • A Mexican team twice overcame sizeable odds

It ain’t over till it’s over.

The FIFA Club World Cup™ has repeatedly backed up that old expression. FIFA.com looks at five of the best comebacks in the competition’s history.

Al Ahly-Pachuca (2008 quarter-finals)

Score in the 46th minute: 2-0
Final score: 2-4

Pachuca had the better chances initially, but it was Al Ahly who took a 2-0 lead after an own-goal from Fausto Pinto following a counter-attack and a strike from Flavio. They even scored again early in the second half, but the goal was disallowed for offside.

Pachuca reduced the deficit immediately after that via a Luis Montes free-kick, before Christian Gimenez sparked wild celebrations with the equaliser from another superb free-kick after 72 minutes. The Mexicans were the better side in extra-time, and put the seal on their come-from-behind triumph with goals from Damian Alvarez and Gimenez.

Pachuca ultimately lost 1-0 to Gamba Osaka in the play-off for third place.

Estudiantes-Barcelona (2009 final)

Score in the 88th minute: 1-0
Final score: 1-2

Pep Guardiola’s side were the runaway favourites to triumph and started on top, but it was their Argentinian opponents who opened the scoring just after the half-hour mark through a superb Mauro Boselli header.

Estudiantes subsequently sat very deep and battled hard to preserve their lead. Indeed, when Barcelona squandered the few chances they were able to create, it looked like the South Americans’ game plan was going to pay off. However, Pedro came off the bench and levelled the score with a header in the 89th minute. The huge sense of relief in the Barcelona camp was visible, as they were determined to win a historic sixth title that year. Messi then chested in the winner in extra-time.

Pachuca-Al Wahda (2010 play-off for fifth place)

Score in the 81st minute: 0-2
Final score: 4-2 on penalties (after a 2-2 draw)

Two years after that quarter-final win over Al Ahly, Pachuca were able to muster another comeback when they needed to. Goals from Ismail Matar and Mahmoud Khamees had given a hard-working Al Wahda side a deserved 2-0 advantage with just under 15 minutes to play.

Despite being a man down following a sending off, Al Wahda even pushed for a third but were caught out twice on the break through goals from Dario Cvitanich. The Mexicans went on to prevail in the ensuing penalty shootout.

Real Madrid-Kashima Antlers (2016 final)

Score in the 59th minute: 1-2
Final score: 4-2

Just like Messi seven years previously, this time Cristiano Ronaldo was the match-winner in the Club World Cup final. Karim Benzema prodded the odds-on favourites in front in the ninth minute, but Gaku Shibasaki sent the majority of the 70,000-strong crowd in Yokohama into raptures with a brace to give the J.League champions an unexpected lead with around 40 minutes left to play.

Then came the Ronaldo show. After he equalised from the penalty spot in the 60th minute, both sides continued to have chances, and Kashima still sensed an upset was possible. The match went into extra-time, with Ronaldo scoring twice more to swing the game Real Madrid’s way, although Yuma Suzuki hit the bar for the lively Japanese side with the score still at 3-2.

Al Ain-Team Wellington (2018 first round)

Score in the 44th minute: 0-3
Final score: 4-3 on penalties (after a 3-3 draw)

Hosts Al Ain welcomed Team Wellington to their own stadium, but the visitors were 3-0 up after 44 minutes thanks to some eye-catching goals.

However, Tsukasa Shiotani pulled one back for Al Ain on the stroke of half-time, and they struck again early in the second period through Tongo Doumbia. The home side continued to push for more, but became increasingly frustrated by wayward finishing. They finally managed to force an equaliser five minutes from time when substitute Marcus Berg shot on the turn to take the game into extra-time.

It proved largely uneventful, meaning the tie had to be decided by a penalty shootout, in which Al Ain completed the comeback. Subsequent victories over Esperance Tunis (3-0) and River Plate (5-4 on penalties) even took Al Ain into the final, where they lost 4-1 to Real Madrid.

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