Dortmund delight as Reds win thriller

16 May 2001

Liverpool's class of 2001 etched their names forever into the history books by securing a unique treble on a thrilling night in Dortmund.

They say it's a funny old game, but the manner in which Gerard Houllier's Reds defeated Alaves to lift the UEFA Cup was plain barmy.

The game finished 5-4 after extra-time – but this only tells half the story, with our first European final in 15 years proving to be one of the most memorable in the history of continental football.

Liverpudlians converged on Dortmund in their thousands, vastly outnumbering those who made the trip from Spain. An estimated 30,000 got their hands on tickets to welcome Sami Hyypia and his teammates onto the Westfalenstadion pitch.

The Reds might have won the FA Cup in blistering heat just four days earlier, but there were no signs of fatigue, with Markus Babbel heading home the opener after just three minutes.

It was to get even better on the quarter-hour mark when Liverpool increased the lead, Michael Owen sliding an inch-perfect pass through before Steven Gerrard rifled past a helpless Martin Herrera.

Shell-shocked, Alaves were forced to change things around in the 22nd minute when Dan Eggen, who's goal for Brondby dumped us out of the 1994 UEFA Cup, was replaced by Ivan Alonso. 

It proved an inspired substitution. Within four minutes Alonso had pulled a goal back for the Spaniards.

Stunned, Liverpool - who had been coasting up until then - began making mistakes. The pace of Javi Moreno began to cause problems and only a last-ditch tackle by Babbel on the half-hour mark denied him. 
Moments later, the Spanish striker looked certain to score after racing clear of the Reds' back-line. He rounded Westerveld but somehow failed to finish from close range.
It was a clear warning to Liverpool and they responded by restoring their two-goal advantage five minutes before the interval. Didi Hamann sent Owen racing through on goal with a sublime pass from inside his own half before the England man was felled by a desperate Herrera.

The Alaves number one was lucky to receive only yellow, but that was scant consolation as he picked the ball out of the net for a third time after Gary McAllister held his nerve on the big stage yet again. 
The Alaves players emerged from their half-time team talk early and when the second half began it was they who set the tempo. After two minutes they were rewarded when Moreno pulled a goal back to make it 3-2.
Having reduced deficit, the Spaniards maintained their momentum and sensationally equalised three minutes later when Hermes Desio was adjudged to have been fouled on the edge of the box. Moreno's free-kick went straight through the wall and, via a deflection, into the net.
With the scores 3-3, it was time for Robbie Fowler to enter the fray, and this time it was a Houllier substitution that proved inspired. It was McAllister, driving forward from midfield once more, who supplied God, who took the ball on a few yards before picking his spot. Surely it was game over now?

The travelling Kop certainly thought so. Liverpool were just two minutes from glory when the game took an other dramatic twist, Jordi Cruyff heading home from a corner to make it 4-4. 
Tension gripped the stadium as the final whistle blew. Would either team find a Golden Goal, or would a night of high drama end in the most dramatic way imaginable – penalties?

Alonso soon had the ball in the back of Liverpool's net but was clearly offside, and in the 98th minute Alaves were reduced to 10 men when Magno received his second yellow card for a late and reckless lunge on Babbel. The first-half of extra-time ended with Fowler having a goal disallowed, also for offside. 
Alaves suffered a further blow when Antonio Karmona became their second player to receive his marching orders following a foul on Smicer.

Seconds later their world was to collapse.

The winner came in the cruellest fashion, Delfi Geli turning McAllister's free-kick into his own net to hand the Merseysiders the cup.

The goal sparked wild celebrations, with Liverpool fans dancing in the stands while their heroes did the same on the pitch.

Robbie Fowler and Sami Hyypia jointly held aloft the trophy, which would join the League and FA Cups back in the Anfield trophy room.