European Cup memoriesNo.5 is won on an inexplicable night in Istanbul
A single word that conjures a deluge of feelings, emotions and sensations.
Memories of disbelieving ecstasy borne from dark despair, of Stevie’s header and Vladi’s hit and Xabi’s rebound.
Of Rafa’s mythical team talk, of You’ll Never Walk Alone, of the captain’s arms whirring and Carra’s cramp and Jerzy’s save. How did he save that?
May 25, 2005 was the night when a miracle happened, when Liverpool became champions of Europe for the fifth time in the most extraordinary circumstances imaginable.
Three goals down at half-time to a genuinely great AC Milan side: Dida, Cafu, Stam, Nesta, Maldini, Pirlo, Gattuso, Seedorf, Kaka, Crespo, Shevchenko. How did the Reds beat them?
Well, a performance for the ages from their skipper certainly helped. Gerrard leapt and twisted and willed the ball into the far corner with a header of astounding technique.
On his 184th and final appearance for the club, Smicer tried his luck.
After first seeing his penalty saved, Alonso just – and only just – got there in time to crash the loose ball into the roof of the net.
Six minutes of madness.
Milan cleared their heads and reasserted their authority but somehow Liverpool made it to penalties.
And when Dudek – who had evoked Rome ’84 by imitating Bruce Grobbelaar’s spaghetti legs – saved from Shevchenko, Old Big Ears was returning to Merseyside for the first time in a generation.
“Once you reached that euphoria… that satisfaction and happiness, you enjoy the moment and see everything around you, all the red with so many people with so much passion,” Benitez recalled 15 years on.
“After so many years, that’s something wonderful that stays in your memory forever.”
Jerzy Dudek, Steve Finnan (Dietmar Hamann, 46), Djimi Traore, Sami Hyypia, Jamie Carragher, Harry Kewell (Vladimir Smicer, 23), Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard, John Arne Riise, Luis Garcia, Milan Baros (Djibril Cisse, 85).
Route to the final
Qualifying round: Liverpool 2-1 (agg) Grazer AK
Group stage: Liverpool 2-0 AS Monaco, Olympiacos 1-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 0-0 Deportivo La Coruna, Deportivo 0-1 Liverpool, Monaco 1-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 3-1 Olympiacos
Last 16: Liverpool 6-2 (agg) Bayer Leverkusen
Quarter-final: Liverpool 2-1 (agg) Juventus
Semi-final: Liverpool 1-0 (agg) Chelsea
European Cup top scorers
Luis Garcia – 5
Steven Gerrard – 4
Milan Baros – 2
Xabi Alonso, Djibril Cisse, Dietmar Hamann, Sami Hyypia, Neil Mellor, John Arne Riise, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Vladimir Smicer, own goal – 1