Last week Real Madrid suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, ruling them all but out of the competition. The Germans put on an attacking masterclass and backed by a deafening crowd, romped to a 4-1 victory, condemning Real Madrid to yet another defeat on German soil. In search of their 10th European crown, Los Blancos could not have asked for a worse result.
And ever since then, the word Remontada has been heard quite often in Real Madrid circles. The fans, the club have all invoked the memory of those memorable fixtures in the 1970s and 1980s that made the word come to be associated with Real Madrid and the saying “90 Minutes in the Bernabeu are very long”. Here we take a lunge down memory lane to the second leg tie in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Cup, 1985/86 season when after having been beaten 5-1 by Borussia Mönchengladbach, Real Madrid set the world alight with one of the most memorable comebacks of all times in European competitions.
Real Madrid 4-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Estadio Santiago Bernabéu
11th December, 1985
Real Madrid took to the pitch with the seemingly impossible task of overturning a deficit of 4 goals. Even the solitary away goal by Rafael Gordillo in the first leg seemed a mere consolation rather than the foundation of a miraculous comeback.
Los Blancos made two notable changes to the starting line-up, with both Santillana and Emilio Butragueño in the starting XI instead of being on the bench. Hugo Sanchez, however, had to miss out on the game due to suspension.
From the very beginning it was clear that the home team had only one purpose in mind. Mönchengladbach were probably a little complacent and it showed when Real Madrid raced to a two goal lead within twenty minutes, both diving headers across the goal scored by Jorge Valdano. The theme of the night was set; Remontada or the fabled comeback was happening and the Bernabeu got even louder than it was before. There were 120,000 Madridistas stocked in the stadium on the night.
Thereon, intensity remained in the game but Mönchengladbach made their way back. No more goals were conceded in the first half as both teams continued to slug it out. The Madrid faithful continued to will their team forward but by the 75th minute, with the scoreline still 2-0 in favour of Real Madrid, it seemed that the Germans would go through after all. That was until the 78th minute, when Santillana popped up with a well connected volleyed goal after a quickly taken free-kick.
There it was then, one goal to go through with twelve minutes to go. Nail biting anxiety pervaded through the entire stadium as precious minutes ticked by. Then in the 90th minute, of all times, Real Madrid were awarded a throw in Mönchengladbach’s half. What ensued was probably one of the most memorable moments in Bernabeu history. From the resulting long throw in, there was a scuffle in the penalty box and Santillana, who else, somehow stroked the ball past the goalkeeper into the net. Absolute pandemonium followed as the stadium erupted. Santillana disappeared under a pile of his team-mates while some who could not do so ran to the sidelines to celebrate with anyone they could find. Juanito could be seen jumping around like a child.
“The stadium was on the verge of exploding. We needed a goal, and I scored in the last minute. Imagine 120,000 people screaming. I still say that it was the public who scored that goal.” – Santillana recalls the emotions on the night
The final whistle could not have come sooner. The crowd roared its approval at one of the finest comebacks in the history and Real Madrid qualified for the next round. It was one of those rare instances when Los Blancos got the better of a German team, and it was some way they did it. With such a feat behind them, it was only fitting that they went on to win the UEFA Cup that season. It was also the first of the five seasons when Real Madrid won the La Liga in succession.