The Reds are the most successful English club in Europe with a haul of 6 Champions League/European Cups. Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (7) have won more Champions League titles than the Merseyside giants. Liverpool had one of their most successful 10 years between 1975 to 1985 when they won 4 of their 6 European Cups (1977, 1978, 1981 and 1984). Their last title came 14 years after the 2005 Istanbul miracle.
Today marks 15 years since Liverpool made a brilliant comeback against Ancelloti’s Milan in the Champions League final to win the trophy for the fifth time. This date holds a special place in every football fan’s heart. So, we’ve decided to take a stroll down the memory lane to relive the greatest six minutes in the Reds’ history.
Liverpool were in Group A with Monaco, Olympiacos, and Deportivo La Coruna. The Reds managed to qualify for the knock-outs on goal difference in their final game against Olympiacos. They easily won against Bayer Leverkusen and faced Juventus in the quarter-finals. They managed to best the Old Lady 2-1 in two legs and progressed to the semis where they met with Mourinho’s Chelsea. The first leg ended in a goalless draw and Luis Garcia scored a ghost goal in the second leg, which seemed to have not crossed the line fully. But it was enough to send the Reds to Istanbul to face the favourites of the tournament, Ancelloti’s Milan.
Milan built a legendary team under Carlo Ancelloti with players like Maldini, Shevchenko, Kaka, and Cafu. They were heavy favourites to win the tournament as they topped their group with Barcelona coming as the second. They also won both legs against Ferguson’s Manchester United in the Round of 16. They thrashed city-rivals Inter, who entered QFs by beating defending champions, Porto. They defeated PSV on away goals rule and faced underdogs, Liverpool in the final.
Here’s how both teams lined up:
AC Milan’s Lineup:
CAFU STAM NESTA MALDINI
SEEDORF PIRLO GATTUSO
FINNAN CARRAGHER HYYPIA TRAORE
GARCIA KEWELL RIISE
The game started excitingly for the Rossonero as Maldini opened the scoring in the first minute through Pirlo’s freekick. Hernan Crespo scored the second Shevchenko’s cross across the box. Crespo scored a quick third goal as he chipped Dudek from Kaka’s amazing through-ball. Milan were in a comfortable position before going out for the half-time break. The Italian side were in cruise control and things went terribly wrong for Liverpool in the first half.
However, Steven Gerrard had other plans. Then the six minutes began!
Riise put a cross into the Milan box in the 54th minute and Gerrard latched onto it and headed home Liverpool’s first goal. Benitez’s substitutions paid off as Smicer scored a long ranger that went out of reach for Dida. The Reds were back into the game. Four mins later Gattuso pulled Gerrard in the penalty box and the referee awarded the Reds a penalty. The stadium erupted. Xabi Alonso stepped up to take the penalty, however, his low effort was saved by Dida. But Alonso somehow managed to score from the rebound. The lead was restored. Liverpool did it. The Reds made a miraculous comeback in just six minutes.
The game wasn’t over. Milan were still looking dangerous and were close to scoring for the winning goal several times in the 2nd half. They came close quite a few times but were denied by some last-ditch defending from Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher, and Djimi Traore. However, the most defining moment of the game was Dudek’s save off Shevchenko from point-blank range. The game went to penalties.
Serginho stood to take the first penalty of the game and sent it over the bar. Pirlo’s penalty was saved by Dudek. Liverpool scored both their penalties and now had an advantage of two. Tomasson scored Milan’s first penalty as Riise’s penalty was saved by Dida. Kaka and Smicer converted their penalties and now it was up to Shevchenko to decide the fate of Milan. His shot was saved by Dudek. It was over! Liverpool won their fifth Champions League, almost 21 years after winning their fourth.
The stadium erupted and the Liverpool fans inside the stadium witnessed the greatest Champions League night of the club’s history. It was the local boy from Whiston, who didn’t lose hope and did all he could to bring his team back into the game. A true captain and Liverpool legend, Steven Gerrard introduced himself to the world by leading the team from the front. And so did others, who didn’t lose hope and kept cool and calm throughout the game produce a magical comeback.
It wasn’t Anfield. It was the Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul. But it looked like Anfield as Liverpool fans chanted “You’ll never walk alone”
WHAT A NIGHT, IT WAS!
Watch the highlights of the game here