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Reliving Liverpool’s Istanbul miracle

Let's dive into the memory lane and relive Liverpool Istanbul miracle. This 2005 triumph holds a special place in every football fan.

Sourav Ghosh
Last updated: 17.04.2019
Reliving Liverpool’s Istanbul miracle | Sports Social Blog

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There’s just something about Liverpool and European glory that goes synonymously. They are the most successful English club (4th overall) in Europe with a combined haul of 11 European honors. 5 Champions League/European Cups, 3 Europa League titles and another 3 UEFA Super Cups. Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (7) have more UCL titles than the English giants. Liverpool had a very successful decade during the ’70s and 80’s when they won 4 of their 5 European Cups (1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984). Their next and last title came 21 years after that in 2005.

But the thing is, the 2005 triumph holds a special place among all those titles given the nature of the campaign as well as the final, which is why we have decided to take a stroll down the memory lane and revisit the whole thing.


A rocky group stage -

Finishing 4th place in the 2003-04 season of the Premier League provided Liverpool a ticket to the group stages of the Champions League. Rafa Benitez was hired as the new manager. They were placed in Group A which comprised of AS Monaco (FRA), Olympiacos (GRE) and Deportivo La Coruna (ESP).

They started with a routine win over Monaco in the opening game with goals from Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros. A shock loss against Olympiacos and a draw with Deportivo followed. They managed to beat Deportivo but succumbed to a 2nd loss when they visited Monaco. This meant that Liverpool were on 7 points from 5 games with a GD of +1. The final game was against Olympiacos, who were on 10 points with a GD of +2. The Reds went down early in the game with a goal from Rivaldo.

A 2nd half rally was wrapped up by a classic Steven Gerrard goal, first time shot with the outside of the boot, flying into the goal. Liverpool were through, just!

The knockouts -

Liverpool were to play Bayern Leverkusen in the round of 16, of whom they made light work, winning by a 6-2 aggregate. Luis Garcia was the star with 3 goals across 2 legs. He was not done though. A sublime, dipping half volley against Juventus, in the quarter finals, turned out to be the winner as Liverpool progressed on to the semis.

An all English semi-final was on the cards with Chelsea waiting for them. A goalless first leg meant that all came down to the 2nd leg at Anfield. There it was! A ghost goal! From Luis Garcia. The ball seemed to have not crossed the line fully, with William Gallas clearing it. The goal was awarded nonetheless and it still remains an iconic moment from the game. That ‘goal’ was enough to send Liverpool through to the finals where they would meet Carlo Ancelotti’s AC Milan.

The ‘final’ miracle!

There aren’t many fairy tales in football history to rival what transpired in Istanbul on 25th May, 2005! It was a star studded affair as both teams lined up with some of the biggest names in European football. Milan literally put in an all-star team with the likes of Nesta, Maldini, Cafu, Kaka, Gattuso, Pirlo, Kaka, Seedorf, Crespo, Shevchenko, etc. While Liverpool also had their own big guns like Gerrard, Carragher, Riise and Xabi Alonso.

*Probably something eagle eyed fans may have noticed, Andriy Shevchenko touched the UCL trophy while walking out. This is said to be a curse which also happened with Dimitri Payet in 2018 when he did the same thing in the UEL final.*

The game started off in whirlwind fashion with Maldini scoring within a minute, off an Andrea Pirlo free kick. Luis Garcia’s handball appeal fell on deaf ears and Milan were again on their way into the Liverpool box. A square ball across the box from Shevchenko was tapped in by Crespo at the far post. Crespo scored his 2nd when Kaka put in a delicious through ball which the former chipped over Jerzy Dudek. It was halftime and Milan were in cruise control with 3 goals in the bank. What could go wrong now?


Being 0-3 down in a Champions League final against a super team like AC Milan isn’t something any team would fancy. Yet, Liverpool found themselves in this extraordinary mess. Dietmar Hamann was brought in at the start of the 2nf half in place of Steve Finnan. Milan were still dominating proceedings with Dudek having to keep out Shevchenko’s fine free kick.

Then it began!

The noise from the Liverpool fans was deafening to say the least! Maybe that’ what was needed to start the assault. John Arne Riise put in a cross from the left that found Gerrard who headed on to the bar and the ball went in off it. The captain was fired up! He was getting everyone else fired up and it was working! Vladimir Smicer pulled out another out from long range that a diving Dida couldn’t get to. 3 mins, 2 goals! Liverpool were right back into the game! Gennaro Gattuso ended up pulling back Gerrard in front of goal and the ref pointed towards the spot. Penalty! Xabi Alonso stepped up to take it but his low effort was saved by Dida. But as fate would have it, the rebound went back to Alonso who somehow managed to slam it into the roof of the net! The restoration was complete but Liverpool knew the job wasn’t over.

Milan were looking for the winning goal. They came close quite a few times but were denied by some last ditch defending from Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher and Djimi Traore. The game went to extra time. Liverpool players looked absolutely drained but were still giving everything they had. The defining moment or should I say moments came when Jerzy Dudek produced two of the most important saves off Andriy Shevchenko from point blank range! That was perhaps an embodiment of what Liverpool had produced that night.

Penalty shootout time!

Serginho sent his shot way over the bar. Hamann scored his. A little shimmy on the line from Dudek was enough to save Pirlo’s effort. Djibril Cisse sent his effort rocketing into the net. 2 goal advantage to Liverpool. Tomasson scored Milan’s first while Riise’s shot was saved. Still the advantage was with Liverpool. Kaka and Smicer converted their penalties successfully. Andriy Shevchenko was to take the decisive spot kick. His shot, well saved, again denied by Dudek!

It was all over! Liverpool were the champions of Europe for a 5th time!

What needs to be applauded that this was by no means an individual inspired victory. Everyone played their part. Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher could barely stand after the efforts they had put in. Jerzy Dudek produced a performance of a lifetime. Xabi Alonso kept cool and calm throughout. Above all it was a local boy who believed that his team could do it with some inspiration and fire from him. He ran his heart out on that night popping up everywhere and doing whatever he could. Steven Gerrard showed on that night, what it means to be a true captain!

When you see the tears in Carragher and Gerrard’s eyes, you know what it means and what it took from them, just to get their team over the line. Just to see their loyal and vociferous supporters smile. There’s nothing like Liverpool fans chanting “You’ll never walk alone” (especially at Anfield) wherever they may be!

Walk on through the wind

Walk on through the rain

Though your dreams be tossed and thrown

Walk on, walk on

With hope in your heart

And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone....

Lines that touch you! Lines that symbolize the miracle of Istanbul! Lines that embody the roar of thousands of faithful Liverpool fans! Lines that make you feel what Liverpool are!

Video: You will never walk alone

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