In Depth

Six of the greatest sporting comebacks to inspire the Lions

With a mountain to climb against New Zealand this weekend, Warren Gatland's Lions should look to history for inspiration

Trailing 1-0 in their three-match series against New Zealand, the Lions were looking for a big performance against the Hurricanes on Tuesday to shift the momentum of their tour. 

Instead, they threw away a handy lead to draw the game 31-31. But history has shown that just because you are down, doesn't mean you are out. Here are six of the greatest sporting comebacks to inspire Gatland's team as they prepare for their two final tests.

Botham's Ashes, 1981

It's hard to overstate just how dreadful England were at the beginning of the 1981 Ashes series. A hammering at Trent Bridge was followed by a draw at Lord's, after which Ian Botham stepped down as captain.  

Then came Headingley. 

England, famously, were given odds of 500-1 after being forced to follow on in the third Test before Botham came in with the score at 105-5 and produced one of the all-time great innings under pressure - an unbeaten 149 from 148 balls. A brilliant 8-43 from Bob Willis wrapped things up and, momentum well and truly shifted, England went on to take the series 3-1. 

Manchester United, 1996

Newcastle looked, in every way, the absolute business at the start of the 1995/96 Premiership season. At one point in January, they sat 12 points clear of Manchester United at the top of the table.

But Kevin Keegan's free-flowing, attacking style began to look more naive than buccaneering as they haemorrhaged points through the spring, while United rolled on like an unstoppable juggernaut. 

In the end, it wasn't even close. Sir Alex Ferguson's side took the lead in March, and not even Keegan's infamous "I would love it if we beat them" rant could stop English football's most prolific winners from finishing the season four points clear. 

Liverpool, 2005

Possibly the most famous game of football in the last 20 years, Liverpool's slim Champions League hopes looked utterly lost at half-time in the 2005 final.  

Paolo Maldini started the scoring for AC Milan in the first minute before a quick-fire double from Hernan Crespo left the Reds staring down the barrel of a 3-0 deficit at half-time. Less than 15 minutes later, Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso had levelled the scores and – thanks to some heroics from Jerzy Dudek against Andriy Shevchenko – Liverpool lifted the trophy at the end of an astonishing night. 

Ryder Cup, 2012

Rarely has a historically individual sport seen such a feat of team unity as the Miracle at Medinah. Trailing 10-6 coming into the final day's play, Europe needed to win a massive eight and a half points out of the 12 available to retain their crown in Illinois. 

By the time Tiger Woods conceded the 18th hole to Francesco Molinari to close out the day's play with half a point each, the turnaround was complete - an emotional Jose Maria Olazabal dedicating the win to the late Seve Ballesteros. 

Super Bowl LI, 2017

The game that caused a hundred thousand bleary eyed "wait, what?" moments when UK fans, having turned in for a wink of sleep after the Atlanta Falcons went 28-3 up on the New England Patriots, woke up and checked the final score.  

Nineteen unanswered fourth-quarter points saw a Tom Brady-led Pats team take the game to overtime. Finally, third-year running back James White finished the game off with a two-yard run to break Falcons hearts.

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