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English clubs’ most embarrassing European defeats

todayMarch 19, 2021 1

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English teams are usually considered to be among the favourites to win any European competition, such is the perceived strength of the Premier League.

But as history as shown so many times, things don’t always go to plan and they certainly don’t follow such straight forward scripts. Sometimes, just sometimes, Premier League side’s take their eye off the ball, don’t treat inferior opposition with the respect they deserve and come out of a game or tie with a large portion of egg all over their face.

Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham – they’ve been at it at some point, though some defeats have arguably been more embarrassing than others. Naturally, we here at 90min specialise in maximising the humiliation, so proudly present to you English clubs’ most embarrassing results in Europe.

Let’s tuck in…

Shaun Wright-Philips, Micah Richards, Pablo Zabaleta
City’s famous ‘Poznan’ celebration came after a rather embarrassing defeat | Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

After being down in the doldrums for so very, very long, Manchester City’s fortunes were revived after the Abu Dhabi investment group wrestled control of the club away from Thaksin Shinawatra and his cronies in 2008.

Not only were City now on the way to becoming an established Premier League force, they were super, super rich – and had the players capable of firing the club into Europe.

The Europa League was their home for the 2010/11 season, and Lech Poznan their opponents on a cold November evening. Expected to win easily, City collapsed to a 3-1 defeat – though they did steal the Poznan supporters famed jumping up and down celebration, turning a dreadful night’s work into something positive.

It wasn’t too long ago that Everton were competing in the Europa League under Ronald Koeman, thought sadly things didn’t turn out the way the Dutchman would have wanted.

Already eliminated from the competition, emerging Serie A force Atalanta travelled to a half-empty Goodison Park as underdogs – but would go on to batter Wayne Rooney and co.

Braces from Bryan Cristante and Andreas Cornelius – the one who was rubbish at Cardiff – as well as a goal from Robin Gosens was more than enough to wipe Sandro Ramirez’s goal from anyone’s memory; the game finishing 5-1 to the visitors.

During 2019/20, Bayern Munich went to a different planet.

Having the best striker in the world, Robert Lewandowski, helped, but poor
Chelsea had no idea what was in store for them in their Champions League last 16 clash.

The first leg at Stamford Bridge finished 3-0 to the Germans – Lewandowski and a Serge Gnabry brace sealing the deal – before Covid-19 forced both sides to wait six months for the second leg.

Behind closed doors, Bayern whipped Frank Lampard’s side into shape once more, winning 4-1 on the night and 7-1 on aggregate. Ouch.

Lampard and Sanne
Chelsea were dumped out of the UEFA Cup for a third year in a row by lowly Viking | Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Ahh, Chelsea again.

This time, before Roman Abramovich’s ownership was a thing, they came up against Viking, when we all lived in the glorious world of the UEFA Cup.

The Blues won the first leg of the tie 2-1, only for former Manchester United striker Erik Nevland to decide ‘I’m not having that’ when they got back to Norway.

A 4-2 victory ensued, and Chelsea were out of the competition once more – though they’ll argue that this was a prelude to pretty special things.

If you thought Chelsea’s aggregate defeat to Bayern was bad, try this one on for size.

Arsenal, back in the heady days of being Champions League regulars, came up against Die Roten in 2017, looking to progress to the quarter-finals. Unfortunately, they forgot that in order to do that, they needed to actually turn up and put in some kind of a performance.

Instead, Arsenal lost 5-1 twice – wracking up a truly awful 10-2 defeat on aggregate.

FBL-EUR-C3-MAN UTD-MIDTJYLLAND
Manchester United were embarrassed in their first leg against Midtjylland | HENNING BAGGER/Getty Images

When you think back on Midtjylland’s meeting with Manchester United in 2016, the standout memory is Marcus Rashford’s debut goals.

But in the first leg, the Danish minnows actually caused a huge upset. Cancelling out Memphis Depay’s – he played for United, remember – goal, Pione Sisto and Paul Onuachu scored the goals, sealing a famous 2-1 win over the Red Devils.

It remains to this day one of the biggest upsets in United’s storied history.

Before Graham Potter had been given the opportunity to work his managerial wand with Swansea and Brighton, he was doing great things abroad – specifically with Swedish unknowns Ostersund FK.

Unknowns they may have been upon their arrival at the Emirates Stadium for a Europa League clash with Arsenal, but giant killers they were after leaving north London in February 2018 with a famous 2-1 win.

From an Arsenal perspective, it doesn’t get any worse than this loss.

When Spurs rocked up in Zagreb to take on Dinamo with a 2-0 aggregate lead, few would have predicted what would follow.

Enter, Mislav Orsic.

The late-blooming Croatian scored a devastatingly good hat-trick as Dinamo downed Tottenham after extra time, their 3-0 win wrapping up the slimmest of wins over two legs. Not so much special, but not the worst defeat suffered by Spurs in Europe…

SOCCER-MAN UTD-MACCABI
Manchester United were thumped by their Israeli opponents | NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

With Manchester United among the most feared teams in Europe back in the early 2000s, Maccabi Haifi of Israel were written off as no hopers for their Champions League group stage clash.

The Red Devils had already qualified for the next phase, so Sir Alex Ferguson did admittedly field a weakened side. However, not even he could have seen a 3-0 pumping that was to come – delivered by two stunning goals and a penalty.

Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Tottenham was the culmination of a sudden downturn in fortunes for predecessor Mauricio Pochettino.

Unthinkably, Spurs were struggling to avoid defeat in almost every game they played, just four months after they appeared in a maiden Champions League final against Liverpool.

Here, against *checks notes* Bayern, again, the Lilywhites were taught the ultimate footballing lesson in their brand spanking new stadium. Serge Gnabry, a player not good enough for Tony Pulis, scored four, as Die Roten – who were actually struggling themselves and on the brink of sacking Niko Kovac – inflicted the heaviest home defeat of any English club in European football history.

7-2 it finished.

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