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Barcelona comeback rekindles memories of QPR in Europe

PUBLISHED: 09:57 09 March 2017

Gary Bannister, seen wrestling Manchester United's Arthur Albiston away from the ball, scored six goals for QPR in their memorable 1984 UEFA Cup campaign. Picture: PA PHOTOS

Gary Bannister, seen wrestling Manchester United's Arthur Albiston away from the ball, scored six goals for QPR in their memorable 1984 UEFA Cup campaign. Picture: PA PHOTOS

PA Archive/PA Images

Barcelona’s outrageous comeback against PSG in the Champions League is understandably the talk of the football world. But it may have also prompted a trip down memory land for some QPR fans to 1984 – where it happened twice in just over a month.

Rangers had returned to the top flight of English football in 1983 and their first season back saw them finish a fantastic fifth, earning not only plaudits but a place in the next season’s UEFA Cup.

Their second foray into European competition was always going to be memorable, but the headlines began before a ball had even been kicked.

Part of Rangers’ success was put down to the use of a plastic pitch at Loftus Road and the team’s familiarity with it.

But UEFA decided they would be banned from using it and forced the club to play their home games elsewhere.

Highbury was chosen and it seemed to have little effect as a Gary Bannister hat-trick in the first round second leg tie with KR Reykjavik of Iceland brought a 4-0 win on the night and a 7-0 aggregate success.

That set-up a clash with the Yugoslav champions Partizan Belgrade but Highbury would prove a very happy hunting ground again in a cracking first-leg, played on October 24.

John Gregory fired Rangers ahead on 13 minutes and, although Klincarski equalised a minute later for Partizan before Dragan Mance put them ahead, they were not going to be stopped.

Wayne Fereday and Simon Stainrod gave them a half-time lead and two more for Bannister, along with a Warren Neill goal, gave them a healthy 6-2 win.

Even with two away goals, surely the Yugoslav’s weren’t going to comeback from that?

Sadly they did.

Mance and Dragi Kalicanin scored before half-time and when Miodrag Jesic pounced a minute into the second half, the writing was on the wall.

Zvonko Zivkovic hit Partizan’s fourth on the night in the 64th minute to send them through on the away goals rule.

Heartbreak for QPR but amazingly not the only time that season they were involved in a crazy comeback.

Just six weeks earlier Newcastle United were the visitors to Loftus Road and they raced into a 4-0 half-time lead thanks to a hat-trick from Chris Waddle and Neil McDonald.

Rangers came back with strikes from Bannister and Gregory, together with a bizarre own goal, but when Kenny Wharton made it 5-3 with just six minutes to go, the Magpies looked to have finally wrapped the game up.

But a Steve Wicks header made it 5-4 and then Gary Micklewhite, deep into injury time, completed the comeback.

The moral of the story? Anything Barcelona can do, QPR have probably already managed it.

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