The Greatest Comeback: Dennis Taylor’s 1985 World Snooker Championship win or Barcelona v PSG?
Harry Howes | 9 June 2020
Who will be today’s winner?
Our search for the Greatest Comeback in sport continues today with two more hopefuls looking to reach the next round.
Two incredible performances from different sports and different eras are set to face-off, with Dennis Taylor’s 1985 World Snooker Championship win coming up against Barcelona’s Champions League fightback against Paris Saint-Germain in 2017.
But unfortunately, there can only be one winner and that’s where you come in.
Dennis Taylor wins World Snooker Championship
The 1985 World Snooker Championship final at The Crucible epitomises the term ‘upset’.
Champion: Steve Davis, world No.1 and winner of three of the last four championships.
Contender: Dennis Taylor, lost his only previous final in 1979 and was sunk by Davis in the semi-finals a year before.
Davis was the golden boy of the snooker world and for many it was simply a case of how quickly he could wrap up championship number four.
And the match certainly started in that vein. Taylor opened the black ball final with a fifty-plus break but Davis soon took control, sweeping his opponent aside to lead 7-0 after the first session, before taking the first frame of the next to go 8-0 up.
But Taylor didn’t reach the final by luck and he had no intention of crashing out without a fight. After his opponent missed a fine cut on the green, the Northern Irishman won the ninth frame on the pink, before winning six of the next seven frames to go in 9-7 down overnight.
Taylor’s fightback also included the highest break of the final, a 98. The next day saw Davis rediscover some form to lead 11-8 but once again Taylor showed resilience, first levelling at 11-11 before recovering from another setback to tie 15-15.
Cracks were beginning to show in Davis’ composure, leading to several unforced errors but he somehow edged into a 17-15 lead and was on the brink of another championship. Yet Taylor again demonstrated his star quality, claiming another fifty-plus break to tie the match and force a deciding frame.
At 14 hours and 50 minutes, it is the longest ever best-of-35-frames match in history and the 35th and final frame took 68 minutes to complete. Once again, Davis looked on the brink of victory. The 27-year-old led 62-44, with only 22 points left on the table.
Yet Taylor again defied the odds, sinking the brown from long range before somehow following suit with the blue and the pink. And so, for the first time in history, the World Snooker Championship was to be settled on the very last ball.
In a tense comedy of errors, both players repeatedly spurned the chance to win the match. Taylor missed. Davis played it safe. Taylor missed again. Davis did the same. Taylor got the chance to wrap it up. But he fluffed his lines.
Finally, it looked as though Davis was set to clinch the match. But the occasion seemed to get the better of him as he misjudged the angle and overcut the black, handing Taylor a golden opportunity.
And this time he took it. With a devastating shot, the 36-year-old secured the match, his only ever World Snooker Championship triumph and one of sport’s greatest ever comebacks.
Barcelona v PSG – Champions League, 2017
Three years ago, football fans were handed a treat as two heavyweights of the European game were drawn together in the last 16 of the Champions League.
Barcelona: four-time winners this century, with arguably the best attacking trio in the world – Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Paris Saint-Germain: the new kids on the block, four consecutive league titles and looking to make a statement in Europe.
Despite their domestic prowess, the French side had struggled to make an impact in the Champions League, making Barca the hot favourites to coast into the quarter-finals.
So, it came as a surprise to everybody when the Spaniards were humbled in the first leg.
Strikes from Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler gave the hosts a 2-0 lead at half-time before Di Maria and Edinson Cavani scored after the break to humiliate Messi and co.
Barcelona returned to the Nou Camp with their tail between their legs and a mountain to climb in the second leg.
No European Cup side had ever progressed after losing the first leg 4-0. But after spending much of the previous 10 years dominating Europe, they weren’t prepared to submit so easily.
Suarez headed home to make it 1-0 after just three minutes before a Layvin Kurzawa own goal doubled their lead. Halfway there.
Messi made it three from the spot but their mountain became infinitely more treacherous when Cavani secured a crucial away goal for PSG. Barca had half an hour to score three goals and despite their dominance, they struggled to break through their resilient opponents.
Until the 88th minute. Neymar swept home a free-kick before burying a penalty three minutes later after Suarez was brought down.
Deep into injury time, PSG were hanging on for dear life and Barcelona could smell blood.
And after more than 180 minutes of football, they finally tasted it. In the fifth minute of added time, Neymar picked up the ball midway inside the PSG half and clipped a hopeful cross into the box.
The seconds that followed seemed to go in slow motion as Sergi Roberto, born and raised in Catalonia and a product of the Barca youth system, got a toe to the ball to poke it past the onrushing Kevin Trapp, sending the Nou Camp into pandemonium and sending his boyhood club into the next round.
Despite pulling off the unthinkable, Barca were ultimately beaten by Juventus in the quarter-finals, but the remarkable turnaround against PSG was permanently etched into the Champions League history books as one of the greatest ever comebacks.
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