It is considerably poetic that Milan’s journey to Anfield on 15 September 2021 is the primary time Liverpool and Rossoneri have ever met within the Champions League group stage.
For two kings of the game, it feels applicable that after they meet, it is often to compete for the largest soccer prize and essentially the most lovely silver supply.
And when Milan returned to the highest desk of European soccer, now underdogs as a consequence of their seven-year absence, who higher to welcome Rocky Balboa again than Apollo Creed?
But already in 2005 that evening in Istanbul, the roles had been reversed. Liverpool had been very underdogs, whereas Milan had been the well-known heavyweight favorites.
A brand new daybreak for Milan / Marco Luzzani / Getty Images
Every man, lady and youngster sufficiently old to kind reminiscences remembers precisely the place they had been and who they had been with when Liverpool took on Milan in 2005, when the world witnessed one in all the best soccer matches ever on the largest stage in Istanbul.
So, in honor of Liverpool and Milan’s two upcoming conferences in 2021, let’s make a journey down the highway of reminiscence and look again on a evening when the inconceivable grew to become a actuality earlier than our eyes.
Historical Makers / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / Getty Images
All groups that attain the Champions League remaining should have a bit of about themselves, nevertheless it is honest to say that this version of Liverpool was removed from classic.
The Reds certified for the European competitors by ending the 2003/04 season in fourth place with a paltry 60 factors – all 30 behind the title champions Arsenal.
Rafa Benitez’s boys then completed with the well-known 2004/05 marketing campaign in fifth place, accumulating simply 58 factors and lacking the Champions League qualifier for Merseyside rivals Everton. That is, if they might not do the inconceivable and win the trophy …
Star-studded / Alex Livesey / Getty Images
At the opposite finish of the spectrum, we had Serie A champion Milan in 2003/04. The Italian giants had been at the highest of their recreation and boasted probably the most star-studded and proficient troops calcio has ever seen.
The record of icons merely rolls off the tongue: Dida, Cafu, Alessandro Nesta, Jaap Stam, Paolo Maldini, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso, Kaka, Clarence Seedorf, Hernan Crespo, Andriy Shevchenko, Filippo Inzaghi.
This elite group did not defend their Serie A title in 2004/05, however as we might later uncover within the Calciopoli scandal and Juventus’ subsequent relegation to Serie B, they had been not concerned in a honest battle.
On today in 2004, Steven Gerrard * scored * the * purpose in opposition to @olympiacos_org within the Champions League. pic.twitter.com/ItyQb3ipNf
– Liverpool FC (@LFC) December 8, 2015
Even if Liverpool had not received essentially the most dramatic remaining in Champions League historical past, their run in opposition to Istanbul would nonetheless have been remembered as probably the most bonkers and controversial ever seen. The Reds had been pressured to play a Champions League qualifier in opposition to Grazer AK, which they received 2-1 total.
The group stage was simply as nervous, and Liverpool’s qualification for the final 16 hung in stability till the final second. The Benitez boys had been on their manner out of the competitors in the course of the dying seconds of the final group recreation with Olympiacos and wanted to win by two objectives to advance to the subsequent spherical.
Captain Steven Gerrard stepped up in damage time to save lots of his membership and smashed a incredible half-volley from 25 yards out to interrupt Olympiaco’s hearts and ship Liverpool to the subsequent spherical. Oooooh you magnificence!
Liverpool then crossed previous Bayer Leverkusen, slipped previous Juventus with a goalless draw at Turin, following a 2-1 win at Anfield (impressed by a memorable Luis Garcia strike), after which beat Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea by means of Garcia’s notorious ‘ghost’. Drama to the top.
On today in 2005, the UCL match between AC Milan & Inter Milan on the San Siro was deserted as a consequence of flares being thrown on the pitch. pic.twitter.com/tcxkGyHMID
– DAZN Canada (@DAZN_CA) April 12, 2020
Milan’s path to the remaining was far more simple, though they handled us to a number of items of pleasure and drama. Four wins out of six group matches meant that Rossoneri topped the desk and began a quarter-final battle with Manchester United.
Two Crespo objectives – one in each legs – helped Milan defeat the Red Devils, resulting in essentially the most scrumptious Milan derbies in opposition to Inter. Carlo Ancelotti’s aspect received the “home team” on the San Siro with 2-0, however the speaking station got here within the second assembly, when a fan threw a firework on the sphere, goalkeeper Dida hit in the top and made the recreation deserted.
Milan received 3-0 at evening and superior to the semifinals to face PSV Eindhoven. A 2-0 success within the San Siro meant that the second leg must have been fairly routine, however Rossoneri ended up on the identical rating and went to overtime because the remaining whistle waved.
An injury-time purpose from Massimo Ambrosini broke PSV’s hearts, and though Phillip Cocu equalized factors total a minute later, Milan took the lead on an away purpose to face an undefeated Liverpool. The remaining was their dropping …
Easy to do / Alex Livesey / Getty Images
The remaining, performed in entrance of 69,000 followers at Ataturk’s Olympic Stadium, will go down in historical past ceaselessly. Turkey was met by a sea of crimson as followers from England and Italy swarmed over its metropolis of Istanbul.
Milan had been heavy favorites and began the recreation as such, surprised Liverpool followers in silence after only one minute. A foul known as throughout a Rossoneri-Bandiera Maldini counterattack resulted in an awesome probability to attain, however Pirolo’s shot rattled off the publish.
That purpose set the tempo for the preliminary 45 minutes, when Ancelotti’s aspect took over the Reds and smashed them with horrifying ease. Five minutes earlier than the break, it was 2-0. Kaka drove by means of the guts of Liverpool’s midfield, considering of a intelligent go to Shevchenko, who in flip rolled the ball over the field into Crespo’s courtroom, who knocked the ball into an unguarded internet.
Game over? Well, 5 minutes later it was recreation, recreation and match. Kaka break up the protection once more, this time with an inch excellent go to Crespo, and the Argentine confirmed no nerves when he reduce the ball previous Jerzy Dudek to place Milan three objectives earlier than the half-time whistle.
Men in opposition to boys, and no manner again for Liverpool, whose goals had been shattered inside 45 minutes.
Live and Kicking / Alex Livesey / Getty Images
Dietmar Hamann was launched at half-time to strive to cease the move of blood pouring from Liverpool’s injured physique, which at the identical time allowed Gerrard to wander wildly and set off a touching comeback. Thank goodness for Liverpool, the legend owes.
After 54 minutes, Gerrard raised their rating by one when John Arne Riise’s harmful low cross was cleverly tucked in on the close to publish by. A lifeline. The captain’s religion struck his teammates, and simply two minutes later they had been inside one. Vladimir Smicer arrange a shot from distance, and his arrow crept into the underside nook past a determined Dida.
Four minutes later, the world plucked its collective jaw from the flooring. Gerrard broke by means of Milan’s protection and was pulled again by Gattuso within the field, and the referee pointed to the spot. Penalty!
Xabi Alonso stepped up, noticed his effort saved by Dida, however was alert sufficient to shoot the rebound into the web on-line. Comeback prepared.
The save that pressured the recreation to penalties / Ben Radford / Getty Images
Milan responded by throwing every part of their energy on the Reds, however the tough underdogs stood agency. Djimi Traore ran again on the road to clear a sure goal-oriented effort, whereas Jamie Carragher produced an excellent final grip to stop Kaka from restoring the lead.
Liverpool exhaled when the final whistle blew, however a 30-minute overtime awaited them. Again, Rossoneri had been the higher workforce, however they might not make the most of their superiority.
Dudek was known as into drastic motion by Shevchenko, first parried an excellent downward heading after which caught out a hand to by some means flip his highly effective return over the crossbar. A enormous second within the recreation, and one which took the Champions League remaining all of the solution to penalties.
⏪ 2005: ATT Liverpool comeback in opposition to AC Milan in Istanbul … @LFC | #UCLdraw pic.twitter.com/yHm3QtTGTH
– UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) 26 August 2021
As with each penalty shootout, there’ll all the time be a hero and a villain, with every participant’s destiny determined by a foot swing or a dive. On this event, Dudek was the hero and wrote his identify in Liverpool folklore ceaselessly.
The Polish shooter took inspiration from the crimson legend and eccentric shooter Bruce Grobbelaar, who danced and bounced on the end line, whereas replicating Zimbabwe’s iconic “wobbly legs”.
Serginho blew his spot kick over the crossbar, and Dudek then dived low to the appropriate to disclaim the often impeccable Pirlo. Converted penalties from Hamann, Djibril Cisse and Smicer meant that Shevchenko had to attain to hold Milan alive – nevertheless it was not his future to be the hero.
Legends of the recreation / Etsuo Hara / Getty Images
The Ukrainian stepped up and thought casually the ball in the center, however Dudek was there to stretch out an arm and pat the ball away from the purpose. Liverpool gamers rushed to bully the goalkeeper, whereas supporters wiped away tears of pleasure and disbelief.
From three objectives down and out of the invoice, the Reds rose from the canvas to grow to be topped European champions.