On the 13th of March 2024 the Premier League did what it does best and created the sort of drama and unbelievable plotline that only sport can provide. Luton Town, mired in the bottom three, raced into a 2-0 lead away at Bournemouth after just 31 minutes. In stoppage time at the end of the first half, former Everton and Chelsea player Ross Barkley made it 3-0 and fans of the Hatters must have assumed their club would secure the win that would move them out of the bottom three.

With 40 minutes of the game remaining the score still stood at 3-0. Given the mentality of some fans, we would not be surprised if some of the Bournemouth not-so-faithful were heading for the exit when the in-form Dominic Solanke made it 3-1 with a brilliant goal. At that stage optimistic supporters of the home side may have dared to dream about nicking a point, or perhaps even just getting a second goal and seeing where it took them.

They had a 12-minute wait for that second strike but then all of a sudden, after 64 minutes they were back level at 3-3. Forget the draw, we suspect at that point Bournemouth players and fans were fully expecting to win and, of course, they did. After Illia Zabarnyi’s scrappy second and Antoine Semenyo’s goal just after, Semenyo gave his team the lead with his second of the night after 83 minutes! Bournemouth went on to win the match 4-3 and leave Luton broken and demoralised, whilst sending the home crowd wild and with a story for the grandkids.

This amazing fightback must rank as one of the greatest in the history of the top flight. In fact, no side has ever come from more than three back to win a game in the Premier League era. Four other teams can match Bournemouth’s feat, whilst only two teams have done what the Cherries did in overcoming a 3-0 disadvantage in the second half!

Man United Turn Tottenham Tide in 2001

Man United LogoThe first team to overcome a three-goal first-half deficit were Manchester United, the dominant side of the Premier League’s first 20 years or so. They trailed Spurs 3-0 at the break with Les Ferdinand among the scorers for the home team. In what is very much a classic of the Premier League era, United came out like a different side in the second half and blew their opponents away.

Andy Cole made it 3-1 after 46 minutes before Laurent Blanc and Ruud van Nistelrooy brought things level with around 20 minutes to go. Juan Sebastian Veron gave the Red Devils the lead and then David Beckham completed the comeback adding real gloss to make it 5-3 in the 87th minute.

Wolves Overcome Foxes

Wolves LogoThe second time a team achieved the incredible feat of coming back from three down at the break came just a couple of years later, in October 2003. Les Ferdinand was again among the early goalscorers, netting two in fact, as Leicester took charge of the clash.

However, proving that things aren’t over until the fat lady sings (or at least the ref blows the final whistle), Wolves battled their way back to win. Colin Cameron bagged a brace, whilst Alex Rae got the equaliser with around 20 minutes left. As the final whistle approached, Henri Camara made it 4-3 to send the home crowd into raptures and complete the comeback.

Other Three-Goal Comebacks

The other two games where PL teams overturned three-goal disadvantages were not quite such dramatic affairs, with the fightbacks at least beginning in the first half. The first time this ever occurred came quite early in the Premier League era when Leeds United stunned Derby County 4-3.

That game took place in November 1997 and saw County two up after 11 minutes and then three to the good just after the half-hour mark. Rod Wallace started the comeback in the 37th minute, Harry Kewell grabbing another in the first half. Late goals from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Lee Bowyer brought all three points for the home side.

Less than 12 months later the now defunct/renamed Wimbledon made their own piece of history by coming back against the Hammers at the Boleyn Ground. John Hartson scored after seven minutes and then an Ian Wright brace had West Ham three up after just 27 minutes. Marcus Gayle gave the visitors hope in the 30th minute and added another after 77, Jason Euell making it 3-2 in between those strikes. Then with nine minutes on the clock, Efan Ekoku made it 3-4 to turn the atmosphere inside the ground well and truly sour.

From Three Down to Level

Over the years there have been several other comebacks from three goals down where teams have managed to salvage a draw. One of the most memorable saw Liverpool ahead 3-0 at Palace in May of 2014 with just 11 minutes of the game left. The hosts stunned the Reds by scoring three late goals to blow a hole in Liverpool’s title hope and leave Luis Suarez in tears. Now there’s a shame!

Other incredible games include Liverpool and Man United drawing 3-3 at Anfield, this time the Kop side achieving the incredible fightback, and Chelsea and United drawing by the same score. There have also been four occasions where a team has come back from 4-1 to draw 4-4 and one incredible contest which went from 5-2 to 5-5. Amazingly that game saw West Brom come from 3-0 and 5-2 to draw with Man United in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last game in charge.

Newcastle Kings of the Four-Goal Fightback

Newcastle United LogoOnly once in the Premier League has a team come from four goals down to take anything from a game. That occurred in 2011 when a stunned St James’ Park saw their beloved Magpies go four down after a mere 26 minutes. The game stayed that way until 68 minutes had passed and, once again, we suspect some of the home crowd will have left their seats to head home and, perhaps, drown their sorrows.

Any that did will probably still be kicking themselves as Newcastle mounted a staggering comeback. After 68 minutes Joey Barton scored a penalty and seven minutes later Leon Best gave the home crowd a sliver of hope. Another Barton penalty after 83 minutes meant the fightback really was on and then this stunning strike from the sadly deceased Cheick Tiote made it 4-4. What a goal – it won Goal of the Season – and what a game!