Manchester United’s task on Thursday night at Old Trafford is to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Liverpool in the Europa League.
If Louis van Gaal’s side upset the odds, they will be through to the quarterfinals of the competition — they also have an FA Cup quarterfinal replay against West Ham United on the schedule — and progression in the Europa League would keep alive their hopes of a place in the Champions League next season.
Amid the doom and gloom among some supporters, history offers some positive omens. Here are the occasions when United lost a European first leg 2-0 away from home in Europe, then recovered to win the tie on aggregate at Old Trafford.
United’s 2-0 defeat in Greece — Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal, scored one of the goals — was a low point of David Moyes’ troubled reign and featured just one shot on target for the English club.
Morale suffered a further setback when United lost 3-0 at home against Liverpool on the weekend before the second leg against Olympiakos, but Robin van Persie struck a hat trick by the 51st minute at Old Trafford, securing the 3-0 win that the club needed to go through.
A Barcelona team featuring Diego Maradona had sent United crashing to a 2-0 defeat in Spain, but the English club responded with a 3-0 win in the second leg. Captain Bryan Robson was a hero for United on the night, scoring twice to level the tie at 2-2 on aggregate, before Frank Stapleton added a winning goal.
“For me that night in 1984 was the best atmosphere inside of Old Trafford that I’ve witnessed,” said Robson earlier this week.
This was the first all-English European tie, and Tottenham, the trophy holders, took command of it with a 2-0 first-leg win against United, who were the previous season’s FA Cup winners. An early goal for United in the second leg cut the deficit before Spurs captain Dave Mackay went off with a broken leg, reducing them to 10 men with substitutions yet to be introduced.
Although Jimmy Greaves equalised, the home team took advantage of their extra man and went on to win 4-1 on the night, with Sir Bobby Charlton striking the two decisive goals to equalise on aggregate and win the tie.
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