A near impossible task lies before Toronto FC as they head to Montreal Thursday.
Having lost to the Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0 in an everything-should-be-fine-as-long-as-you-don’t-lose-2-0-to-the-Whitecaps situation, Toronto must now defeat the Montreal Impact by four or more goals in order to qualify for the CONCACAF Champions League.
Never mind the fact that Toronto has struggled to put the ball in the back of the net this year. Never mind the fact that TFC, in its short history, has only once managed to score four goals in a game. And never mind the fact that Montreal has only once allowed more than four goals in the last three years.
Is it an improbable task? Yes. Is it impossible one? No.
Soccer history is filled with impossible comebacks.
The most obvious example was in Istanbul in 2005. Liverpool FC trailed AC Milan 3-0 at halftime of the Champions League final. The English side, badly outmatched and with its tails firmly tucked between its legs, suddenly awoke in the 54th minute. In a span of just six minutes the Reds rallied to tie the game at three and would go on to capture the title in penalties.
Milan fell victim to a similar defeat the year before. Champions of Europe at the time, they strolled into La Coruna leading Deportivo 4-1 after their first leg of the Champions League quarter-finals. Deportivo had been massacred 8-3 by Monaco just four months prior. But on this night it was Milan who would be bloodied as Deportivo won 4-0 to send the Italians packing.
Barcelona’s dramatic second-half turnaround over Atletico Madrid in 1997, Nigeria’s four-goal explosion to down the Soviet Union at the 1989 Under-20 World Cup, West Germany’s defeat of England at the 1970 World Cup — the list goes on.
And if you want to mention comebacks, cue up a Montreal game from earlier this year — when that upstart Impact team, leading 4-1 on aggregate, utterly collapsed to Santos Laguna in the Champions League. In the stifling Mexican heat, Montreal allowed four second-half goals, including two in extra time to be bounced from the tournament.
It was despicable, it was humiliating and it should have been impossible.
– Watch Ben Rycroft on the It’s Called Football show every Monday at metronews.ca;