Given their current problems, Champions League glory for Liverpool may seem like a million miles away but it was only five years ago that they become Europe’s finest in the most dramatic fashion.
The Reds met Carlo Ancelotti’s Milan, who were firm favourites for the match in the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul.
Milan took the lead early on through veteran left back Paolo Maldini – who became the oldest scorer in the competition in the process.
Andrey Shevchenko had a goal disallowed, while Sami Hyypia had a header saved by keeper Dida later in the half in what was becoming a pulsating match. But just as half time approached Liverpool were hit with a double hammer blow when Hernan Crespo grabbed two goals in five minutes to seemingly put Milan on their way to Champions League glory.
Gennaro Gatusso thought so, as he kissed the trophy en route to the dressing room – how he would live to regret that in what turned out to be one of the biggest Champions League betting upsets of all time.
In the second half, inspired by Rafa Benitez’s team talk Liverpool flew out of the blocks – they had nothing to lose after all. In six minutes of the most dramatic football you will ever see the Reds pulled level through goals from Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xavi Alonso. They were three real Champions League specials.
Milan, their fans and million watching around the world were stunned. Liverpool fans supporters were in dreamland. The game became tight and tetchy from then on, though Shevchenko missed a great chance to win it late on. Extra time and penalties were perhaps inevitable.
For Liverpool they were seeking to recapture the spirit of 1981 when they won the European Cup on penalties against Roma. There were no Bruce Grobalaar style jelly legs from Jerzy Dudek this time, but the keeper did manage to save two penalties, including the decisive one from Shevchenko to hand Liverpool their fifth European Cup in the most dramatic of circumstances.