Football Features

Revealed: The biggest Champions League ‘robberies’ since records began

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 22:00, 17 March 2022

One of the great things about the Champions League is how often the games are festivals of attacking play.

All sides involved are at the elite level of football so there are often match-ups where both sides have a chance to win. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes matches are incredibly one-sided affairs where the dominant teams win.

And then sometimes there are incredibly one-sided affairs where the dominant team loses. Where a team has most of the shots, or all of the shots really, only to lose to an opponent who barely manages an effort on goal. Or without managing any at all in the most extreme cases, as we’ll come to later.

Champions League outright odds from William Hill

You must be 18+ to gamble. For more information, visit Be Gamble Aware. All odds accurate at the time of writing.

Benfica just beat Ajax 1-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena despite having just a single shot on target. Darwin Nunez’s goal was one of four Benfica shots on the night and the only one that troubled Andre Onana, and it went in. Thanks to Ajax’s poor finishing, it was the game-winner.

Which got us thinking, what are the biggest robberies in Champions League history? We’re talking strictly numerically here, removing emotion from the equation (because everyone has different emotional attachment to different clubs). Which clubs have done what Benfica did and won the game with just a single shot on target?

Well, turns out there are 20 other examples of that since Opta records began in 2003/04. But there is a far rarer feat only two teams can lay claim to; that is, the feat of winning a Champions League match without even having a single shot on target. No, really! Who are they? Read on and find out.

Chelsea (vs. VFB Stuttgart)

  • Round of 16 first leg
  • 24 February, 2004 – Gottlieb-Daimler-Stadion
  • Score: 0-1
  • Scorer: Fernando Meira (own goal)

Before José, there was Claudio. And before Mourinho was guiding Chelsea to title wins and near-misses in Europe, Ranieri led the Blues on an adventure all the way to the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2003/04.

It was an adventure that took a very fortunate turn in the round of 16 as Chelsea were absolutely pummelled in Germany by Stuttgart. The Bundesliga side racked up 16 shots, forcing Carlo Cudicini into five saves.

Chelsea had just two shots, neither of which hit the target, but they went through anyway thanks to Fernando Meira turning a Glen Johnson cross into his own net to give Chelsea a ridiculous win (after a goalless draw in the second leg).

Chelsea 2021/22 Champions League Specials from William Hill

  • Chelsea to reach the final 9/4 
  • English team to progress furthest: Chelsea 3/1
  • Chelsea/Man City final 9/1
  • Chelsea/Liverpool final 12/1 
  • Chelsea/Bayern Munich final 14/1 
  • Chelsea/Real Madrid 20/1

You must be 18+ to gamble. For more information, visit Be Gamble Aware. All odds accurate at the time of writing.

Spartak Moscow (vs Marseille)

  • Group Stage matchday one
  • 15 September, 2010 – Stade Vélodrome
  • Score: 0-1
  • Scorer: Cesar Azpilicueta (own goal)

Two years later, a team managed to out-do Chelsea’s feat and, funnily enough, did it while in the same group as Chelsea in a performance involving the current Blues captain along the way for good measure.

Spartak Moscow visited the Stadé Velodrome to play Marseille and got absolutely mangled. With Mathieu Valbuena and André Ayew at the peak of their powers, Marseille rained down a massive 27 shots on the Spartak goal, forcing Andriy Dykan to make seven saves to keep them out.

Then with 10 minutes left in the game and only a Marseille winner looking likely, Spartak struck. Well, they didn’t strike so much as get lucky and take the lead thanks to a Cesar Azpilicueta own goal. Didier Deschamps’ men fell to a side that had just six shots in total and zero on target when they rattled off 27. The biggest and most brutal robbery the Champions League has ever seen?

Champions League teams to win with just one shot on target

Galatasaray 1-0 Olympiakos, 2003/04

Ajax 0-1 AC Milan, 2003/04

PSV 1-0 Monaco, 2004/05

Inter Milan 0-1 AC Milan, 2004/05

Rosenborg 0-2 Real Madrid, 2005/06

Porto 0-1 Dynamo Kyiv, 2008/09

Olympiakos 1-0 AZ, 2009/10

Unirea Urziceni 1-0 Sevilla, 2009/10

Marseille 1-0 Chelsea, 2010/11

Inter Milan 0-1 Trabzonspor, 2011/12

Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, 2011/12

Lille 0-1 Bayern Munich, 2012/13

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-1 Juventus, 2012/13

Basel 0-1 Schalke, 2013/14

Monaco 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen, 2014/15

Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 Monaco, 2014/15

Manchester City 1-0 PSG, 2015/16

Benfica 1-0 Borussia Dortmund, 2016/17

Borussia Dortmund 0-1 Spurs, 2018/19

Juventus 1-0 Chelsea, 2021/22

Ajax 0-1 Benfica, 2021/22

Champions League wins with the lowest possession

Celtic 2-1 Barcelona, 2012/13 (16.43%)

Chelsea 1-0 Barcelona, 2011/12 (20.92%)

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Lokomotiv Moscow, 2019/20 (21.93%)

Manchester City 1-2 Basel, 2017/18 (22.38%)

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Barcelona, 2015/16 (22.88%)