The Champions League Final of 2005 was underway
The match kicked off and almost immediately AC Milan were awarded a free kick in Liverpool’s half.
A perfect cross came in from Andrea Pirlo and Maldini got ahead of his marker to sweep the ball past Dudek and into the roof of the net.
The game was less than a minute old and Milan led 1-0. It was a sign of things to come as AC continued to dominate the game with Liverpool’s players unable to get close enough to them to get the ball.
It goes from bad to worse for Liverpool
The quick passing and clever movement of Pirlo, Kaka and Seedorf in Milan’s midfield left Liverpool chasing shadows and there was really only one team in the game.
It went from bad to worse for Liverpool when their forward Harry Kewell limped off with a groin injury after less than half an hour to be replaced by Czech Republic international, Vladimir Smicer. Bad news as that was, it mattered little as Liverpool couldn’t really get any spell of possession to try and work their way into Milan’s half.
Kaka was by far the best player on the pitch with his awareness of the spaces around him and clinical passes, he was like a ghost gliding around the Liverpool defence at will setting up chances for his strikers.
A rare attack for Liverpool produced a moment of controversy as Luis Garcia managed to get a shot away that appeared to hit Nesta on the arm inside the Milan box. No penalty said the ref and with Liverpool feeling sorry for themselves, Milan broke down the pitch at break neck speed for Shevchenko to cross from the right for Crespo to tap in Milan’s second from close range.
The gulf in class was shown again just before half time with Kaka playing a perfect through ball for Hernan Crespo to run beyond the Liverpool defence and nonchalantly lift the ball over the onrushing Dudek and into the net to make it 3-0.
Moments later the referee blew for half time and the Milan fans started celebrating.
You’ll Never Walk Alone
Credit must go to the Liverpool fans in the stadium that night as during the half time interval, with their team being outclassed and 3-0 down to one of the best teams in Europe, they were shouting and singing louder than their Milan counterparts.
A recognition that they were simply being beaten by a far superior side, a determination to enjoy the occasion whatever the result or a refusal to give up on their team and to show them they still believed in them?
Whatever their motive it was stirring stuff hearing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ being sang by the thousands of Liverpool’s fans and showed a real passion for their team and statement of solidarity.
The teams emerged from the tunnel for the second half, with Liverpool making a change, sending on Hamann for Finnan and changing to a 3-5-2 formation.
Liverpool had a look of steel about them, like they did not believe this game was over.
The Milan players looked comfortable and confident and rightly so, they were just 45 minutes away from a 7th European crown.
Shortly into the second half the game was turned on its head.
John Arne Riise crossed from the left and Steven Gerrard rose to guide his header over Dida in Milan’s goal and into the far corner of the net.
With 54 minutes gone, Liverpool had pulled one back; maybe the game wasn’t over yet. There was still plenty of time for Liverpool to score again. They didn’t have long to wait.
The game had barely restarted when Smicer picked up the ball just outside Milan’s penalty area. With more hope than expectation, he hit a less than unstoppable shot towards the goal.
Dida managed to let the ball slip through his hands and into the corner of the net. It was poor goalkeeping, particularly from someone as accomplished as Dida, but it went in and it now really was game on.
Liverpool complete comeback – Read more