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Uniteds treble triumph Thursday, 27 May, 1999, 17:24 GMT 18:24 UK
Classic sporting comebacks
united
Manchester United celebrate victory at the Nou Camp stadium
Manchester United's heartstopping injury-time triumph in the European Cup final is just the latest example of sport's ability to create classic moments of high drama.

And never is that more obvious than when a team or individual fights back for victory against enormous odds.

Such moments are rare, but when they happen they are truly memorable. Other great moments include:

1981: Ian Botham

Ian Botham's year had begun as badly as the previous one had ended. Captain of England, Botham had led his country against the best team in the world, the West Indies, and had lost home and away.

The summer of 1981 saw the arrival of Australia, and the tourists took the first Test.

botham
Belligerent Botham saves England
Botham's form had plummeted, and it came as no surprise when he produced two scoreless innings in the next Test at Lord's.

At seemingly his lowest ebb he received yet another blow when the selectors publicly announced that he had been sacked, despite his offer of resignation.

The following Test at Headingley saw Botham begin his second innings with England still needing 122 runs to avoid defeat and just five wickets remaining.

But Botham responded with one of the greatest backs-to-the-wall knocks of all time, making an unbeaten 149 with a variety of different partners.

His innings gave England the slimmest chance of bowling out the Aussies, and Bob Willis duly obliged with 8-43.

1985: Dennis Taylor

Tipped to become snooker's world champion by his 30th birthday, Dennis Taylor entered the 1985 tournament at the age of 36 - his ambition unfulfilled.

His form had improved, however, and he had reached the finals on the back of his best ever season, with three tournament victories under his belt.

But his wits and talent were to be pitted against the might of Steve Davis' clinical skills and will-to-win. An entire gruelling weekend of adrenalin-charged play ensued, with Taylor at times hanging onto the game by the skin of his teeth.

On Saturday, more than six hours after play had begun, he won his first frame. Davis took the next, but Taylor nabbed the remaining six - ending the evening only just behind at 9-7.

All day Sunday, the maul continued - the stifling tension peaking as the last frame was whittled agonisingly down to the black, which was chased around the table until Taylor smoothly potted it at 11.23pm - to the delight of a late-night television audience of many millions.

1996: Nick Faldo

Greg Norman's six-shot lead over Britain's Nick Faldo seemed unassailable in the final round of the 1996 Augusta Masters.

But faced with Faldo's surgeon-like precision, the Great White Shark's record lead was squandered in alarming fashion.

faldo
Shark-killing Faldo
Faldo's recovery began with Norman's wayward wedge to the ninth, resulting in a bogey and the lead being cut to just two shots.

The Australian's lead then disintegrated. Despite managing birdies up the back-nine par fives, he shot one into the pond.

Faldo had refused to concede defeat to his playing partner and an immaculate final round gave him a stunning victory, for his third Masters title.

1999: Brian Lara

Brian Lara's double-century against Australia in the second Test in Sabina Park in March of this year was an innings of timing, elegance and technique.

But it was also much more. It was a defining moment of the captain's character when his team was up against the wall. Not only did it save the Test, it showed that, after many disappointments, the Windies could still be world beaters.

His team had been bowled out for 51 in the previous Test match - an all time low for the West Indies. And under his captaincy, they had been whitewashed 5-0 on the previous tour of South Africa.

With pressure mounting for Lara to resign as skipper, he came to the crease at five for two, and left it a day and a half later with a score of 213 - his team in complete control.

1999: Scott Gibbs

England were hot favourites to win the Grand Slam at Wembley in April - with only one game left against a Welsh side who had defeated France by one point in Paris four weeks earlier.

gibbs
The "fastest prop in rugby" breaks English hearts
The game started well for England with wing Dan Luger touching down with an early try.

Wales, who failed to break a superb line of defence from England, managed to hang on only through the kicking on fly-half Neil Jenkins.

Further tries from debutant Steve Hanley and Richard Hill left Wales trailing by seven points at half-time.

And so the game continued. Despite a quick second-half try from Shane Howarth, Wales found themselves six points behind three minutes into injury time.

England seemed to have secured their goal.

But as if from nowhere, centre Scott Gibbs broke free to tear through the heart of the England defence and bring the Welsh within one point.

The conversion was duly slotted by Jenkins to secure an historic victory for Wales and deny England rugby's oldest prize.

1999: Carlisle United

Just weeks ago, seasoned football watchers were left speechless after one of the most thrilling climaxes to a league campaign the game had ever seen.

Carlisle needed a miracle on the last day of the season to maintain their position in the Football League.

Only a win could help them - and they achieved it in injury time.

carlisle
On-loan goalie saves the day
Lee Phillips had put Plymouth ahead at the start of the second half, and Carlisle's David Brightwell equalised after a tense 15 minutes.

So the scores stood level as the game entered its final stages. With only seconds remaining, Carlisle pulled everyone forward - including goalkeeper Jimmy Glass - on loan to the team from Swindon - out of goal for a corner at the Plymouth end.

As the kick was taken, with the clock on 94 minutes, Glass found the net. "If Schmeichel can do it, I can do it."

The Carlisle fans went into raptures over the goal, but it was also a moment of heartbreak for Scarborough fans - who replaced Carlisle and were relegated to the Nationwide Conference.

Links to more Uniteds treble triumph stories are at the foot of the page.


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