Champions League

The greatest Champions League moments of all time - ranked

One of the finest pieces of skill in Champions League history came from Cristiano Ronaldo against Juventus
One of the finest pieces of skill in Champions League history came from Cristiano Ronaldo against Juventus / Marco Canoniero/GettyImages

The Champions League is back.

We're celebrating 30 seasons of club football's greatest competition this year, and to mark the tournament's return this month, we're counting down the 16 greatest moments in Champions League history to date.

You can have your say too - check the link below for details on how to vote - but here's 90min's 16 greatest moments in Champions League history, ranked.

Celebrate 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling by voting for your ultimate moment in #UCL history. Enter now to WIN a trip to the Champions League final and other exclusive prizes!

16. Lionel Messi's first goal for Paris, 2021/22

Lionel Messi
Messi celebrates his stunner / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

Lionel Messi's move to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021 stunned the world, with fans curious to see how far he could take them in the Champions League.

He made a strong start at Parc des Princes, and sealed a victory against Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in 2021 with an awesome hit from distance.

Messi played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe and ball fell perfectly for the forward to whip the ball into the top right corner, leaving Ederson stranded.

15. Jan Oblak's incredible triple save against Leverkusen, 2016/17

Kevin Volland, Jan Oblak
Oblak denies Volland / Sonia Canada/GettyImages

Jan Oblak is a monster between the sticks, and there's no greater demonstration of that than his triple save against Bayer Leverkusen in 2017.

With the scores level and Atletico leading 4-2 on aggregate in this last 16 encounter, Oblak thrice denied Leverkusen a route back into the match in quick succession.

First he blocked Julian Brandt's attempt, before springing to his left to deny Kevin Volland and finally bouncing up again to repeat the trick. Unbeatable.

14. Mesut Özil's scoop over the keeper, 2016/17

Özil leaves the defenders and goalkeeper for dead / ROBERT ATANASOVSKI/GettyImages

Arsenal haven't been in the Champions League since 2016/17, when Mesut Özil was at his most glorious.

The former Germany international was at his best during that campaign and helped the Gunners come away from Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad with a 3-2 victory.

No Arsenal fan can forget when Özil streaked towards the hosts' goal. He somehow chipped the goalkeeper, before cutting inside two defenders and slotting in from close range.

It was a dramatic winner and one of the most stylish strikes in Champions League history.

13. Lionel Messi's sumptuous strike vs Arsenal, 2010/11

Manuel Almunia, Lionel Messi
Messi toyed with Almunia / Jasper Juinen/GettyImages

The vision from Andres Iniesta to set this goal up deserves some credit, but Messi's glorious finish is what steals the show.

The Barcelona man, faced with the onrushing Manuel Almunia, dinked the ball over the Arsenal goalkeeper and watched it drop right back on to his foot for a simple volleyed finish.

It's one of those goals that doesn't look possible to mere mortals, but Messi has made a career out of it.

12. Sheriff's shock winner at Real Madrid, 2021/22

Real Madrid v Sheriff - UEFA Champions League
This was not a match Sheriff were expected to win / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Real Madrid vs Sheriff Tiraspol is about as much a Champions League mismatch as you can imagine.

A game between the 13-time European champions against a side who had never reached the Champions League group stage just felt like it could only have one outcome, but Sheriff had already picked up a victory against Shakhtar Donetsk before they headed to the Bernabeu.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's header had given them the lead in the first half, though Karim Benzema equalised with a penalty in the 65th minute.

Giorgos Athanasiadis was immense in the Sheriff goal before Sebastien Thill scored one of the competition's greatest goals with a strike from range.

Understandably, the Moldovan champions were pretty happy with their night's work.

11. Lionel Messi's dead-ball masterclass, 2018/19

FC Barcelona - Liverpool FC: UEFA Champions League
Messi whips home a stunner / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Messi has done the unthinkable on countless occasions, so much so that when he comes up with another moment of magic, it's almost swept under the carpet.

However, that wasn't the case in 2018/19, when he put Liverpool to the sword with an incredible free kick. He'd already scored once, but this majestic set-piece curled over the wall and into Alisson's top corner, giving the Brazilian no chance.

10. Didier Drogba's final celebration, 2011/12

Didier Drogba
Drogba netted the winner for Chelsea / Ian MacNicol/GettyImages

Underdogs Chelsea had to battle their way past Barcelona to get to the final in 2012, where they completed the European dream with a victory over Bayern Munich in their own stadium.

Didier Drogba headed home a late equaliser for the Blues before netting the winning penalty with what looked to be his final kick of the ball for Chelsea before his return in 2014.

Picking up the trophy, Drogba sprinted around the pitch at the Allianz Arena, basking in the moment he established himself as a Chelsea legend.

9. Kaká's otherworldly assist against Liverpool, 2004/05

Steven Gerrard, Kaka
Kaka was unplayable in Istanbul / MUSTAFA OZER/GettyImages

Kaká put on one of the all-time great performances in the 2004/05 final and was desperately unlucky not to come out on the winning side.

The Brazilian was the orchestrator of Liverpool's first-half downfall, always finding space between the lines and causing the Reds all sorts of problems with his vision, feather touch and ball-carrying ability.

Kaká played a key pass in the build-up to the second goal before playing an absolutely outrageous, defence-splitting through ball to Hernan Crespo, who produced an exquisite finish for 3-0.

8. Grégory Coupet's header onto the bar, 2001/02

Gregory Coupet
Coupet is a Champions League legend / Stuart Franklin/GettyImages

It's always hard to figure out just which moment is the best from this clip of Lyon legend Grégory Coupet. Is it the diving header, or the incredible save from the rebound?

Actually, no. It's the header. Definitely the header.

Sure, there's a certain amount of luck involved when crashing a header against your own crossbar, but it remains an incredible piece of goalkeeping that might never be replicated on the grandest stage.

7. Cristiano Ronaldo's free kick vs Arsenal, 2008/09

Cristiano Ronaldo
Ronaldo's strike was out of this world / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Very few players would even consider shooting when lining up a free kick 40 yards out wide on the right flank, in a Champions League semi-final no less - but Ronaldo is one of those players.

With Man Utd already leading 2-0 on aggregate against Arsenal in 2009, the Portuguese superstar put the tie beyond them with a howitzer beyond the static Manuel Almunia from absolutely miles out. Thunderbolt.

6. Lionel Messi's Clasico stunner, 2010/11

Messi's goal was a thing of pure beauty / LLUIS GENE/GettyImages

Sometimes, words can fail you when it comes to legendary Argentinian wizard Messi.

Undoubtedly one of his most famous goals, Messi emulated his hero Diego Maradona by slaloming with the ball from close to the halfway line - leaving five defenders in his wake - before squeezing a finish beyond Iker Casillas in this mammoth Champions League semi-final.

A thing of pure beauty, this was Messi at his beguiling best on his way to winning the competition with Barcelona.

5. José Mourinho's touchline sprint vs Man Utd, 2003/04

Jose Mourinho
Mourinho introduced himself to the world in style / MIGUEL RIOPA/GettyImages

As far as introductions go, this one from José Mourinho was pretty good.

Then an emerging manager in Portugal, Mourinho took his Porto side to Old Trafford to face Manchester United as massive underdogs. They'd won the first leg but looked set to crash out on away goals as they approached the 90th minute of this second leg.

With time winding down, Costinha pounced on a loose ball in the box to give Porto the advantage once again, after which Mourinho went sprinting down the Old Trafford touchline. Iconic.

4. Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick corner, 2018/19

Trent Alexander-Arnold
Alexander-Arnold played a huge role in Liverpool's comeback / Alex Livesey - Danehouse/GettyImages

A moment that will live forever in Liverpool folklore, the Reds had already clawed their way back to parity after a 3-0 defeat at Barcelona in the first leg.

Divock Origi scored early on and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum pulled them level with a brace, but it was Alexander-Arnold who produced a moment of magic to complete the remarkable turnaround.

With Barcelona's defenders sleeping, the right back whipped the ball towards the front post, allowing an unmarked Divock Origi to guide the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Anfield went wild.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo's bicycle kick, 2017/18

Ronaldo in full flight / ALBERTO PIZZOLI/GettyImages

Real Madrid were right in their Champions League sweet spot when they travelled to face Juventus in the 2017/18 quarter finals.

Portugal forward Ronaldo had already prodded in Isco's cross for an early opener, but it was his second strike that went down in European football history.

Just past the hour-mark, the moment of magic came. Soaring above Juve's defenders, Ronaldo connected sweetly with an overhead kick from Dani Carvajal's cross, leaving Gianluigi Buffon with absolutely no chance of saving it.

It's pretty difficult to recreate too - as Jack Downer (Street Panna) & Ben Black recently found out. Check out their attempts to recreate CR7's acrobatics below.

2. FC Barcelona stun Paris at Camp Nou, 2016/17

Lionel Messi, Sergio Roberto, Luis Suarez
Barcelona pulled off an incredible comeback / Laurence Griffiths/GettyImages

A goal that still confounds football fans to this day, Barcelona needed an absolute miracle to overcome a 4-0 deficit from their first last-16 leg with Paris Saint-Germain.

Thankfully for their fans at Camp Nou, the Catalan giants delivered.

A Luis Suarez strike, Layvin Kurzawa's own pen and Lionel Messi's penalty had them 3-0 up on the night, but Edinson Cavani's rifled finish gave the French side the initiative again.

However, Neymar scored twice in three late minutes with a free kick and a penalty, before Sergi Roberto popped up in the 95th minute to poke in and complete one of the all-time great Champions League comebacks.

1. The Miracle of Istanbul, 2004/05

Steven Gerrard
Liverpool completed an unbelievable comeback / Etsuo Hara/GettyImages

Surely the greatest comeback in Champions League history?

You know the story; Liverpool looked dead and buried at half-time, 3-0 down thanks to an attacking masterclass from Milan in the first period.

Somehow, the Reds clawed their way back into it through strikes from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso and forced extra-time -and Jerzy Dudek's penalty heroics completed the most remarkable of turnarounds.

Celebrate 30 Seasons of That #UCLFeeling by voting for your ultimate moment in #UCL history. Enter now to WIN a trip to the Champions League final and other exclusive prizes!