Five of the best: Champions League finals
Liverpool, Manchester United & Barcelona have starred in some of the most memorable Champions League finals
With it being that time of year again, when Champions League fever hits the world, here is a rundown of the five greatest Champions League finals.
5. AC Milan 4-0 Barcelona (1993/94)
Fabio Capello’s AC Milan were the massive underdogs when they faced Johan Cruyff’s Barcelona in Athens.
Barcelona’s team, which included Pep Guardiola and Romario, were touted as the "Dream Team", while AC Milan were weakened – missing Marco van Basten, Franco Baresi and Brian Laudrup to name a few.
However, AC Milan completely dominated the game, always pressing and looking lethal whenever they had the ball. Two goals from Daniele Massaro, a volley from man of the match Dejan Savicevic and a clinical finish from Marcel Desailly sealed the win for Capello’s men.
4. Borussia Dortmund 3–1 Juventus (1996/97)
Another underdog story, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Dortmund overcame Marcello Lippi’s defending champions, Juventus, in Munich
Dortmund’s victory came down to a man of the match performance from the Scottish Paul Lambert. Alongside Paulo Sousa, Lambert kept Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps quiet to allow Dormtund to come out victorious.
A brace from Karl-Heinz Riedle was followed by an Alessandro Del Piero back-heel to pull Juventus back to 2-1 down. Substitute Lars Ricken sealed the win for Dortmund with a clever lob over Juventus goalkeeper Angelo Peruzzi.
3. Barcelona 3–1 Manchester United (2010/11)
The champions of Spain and England came head-to-head at Wembley, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United on the receiving end of a Barcelona masterclass.
Initially, Manchester United prevented Barcelona from playing their usual tika-taka football but wasted chances to take the lead. Barcelona soon grasped control of the game and frustrated their opponents.
Pedro opened the scoring for Barcelona by converting Xavi’s suberb run and pass that sliced the United defence in two. Soon after, Wayne Rooney equalised for the English side with a stunning strike that left Victor Valdes stranded.
The game’s outstanding player, Lionel Messi, restored Barcelona’s lead after half-time with a 20-yard strike that found the bottom corner of Edwin van der Sar’s goal. They soon made it three when Messi caused panic in the United defence with a mazy run, finding David Villa on the edge of the box, who curled the ball passed a helpless Van der Sar.
The victory symbolised Barcelona’s dominance of European football and the peak of Pep Guardiola’s tenure as their manager.
2. Manchester United 2–1 Bayern Munich (1998/99)
In the Camp Nou, Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United completed the treble - after securing the Premier League and FA Cup - in the most dramatic of fashions.
A Mario Basler free-kick put Ottmar Hitzfeld’s Bayern Munich ahead after just six minutes but United never gave up, With the likes of Ryan Giggs, Peter Schmeichel, Gary Neville and Jaap Stam, United battled through the game to be rewarded in injury-time.
In the 91st minute, Bayern failed to clear a David Beckham corner allowing Teddy Sheringham to tap the ball in. Again from a Beckham corner, in the 93rd minute, Sheringham knocked on the ball for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to prod the ball past Oliver Kahn.
Bayern Munich were left deflated, Manchester United were left celebrating a glorious treble.
1. Liverpool 3 – 3 AC Milan (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties) (2004/05)
Comebacks do not come much more dramatic than that night in Istanbul.
AC Milan – reigning Italian champions – were heavy favourites and demonstrated it when Paolo Maldini put them ahead in the first minute. Carlo Ancelotti’s men doubled their lead in the 39th minute when Hernan Crespo tapped in a cross from Andriy Shevchenko.
A few minutes later, Crespo made it 3-0 with his second of the game, a cheeky chip over Jerzy Dudek made it look like the Champions League trophy would be returning to Milan.
After the break, Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool went all-out attack, bringing on Dietmar Hamann for Steve Finnan. Now with three in defence, Liverpool got an early goal when Steven Gerrard headed John Arne Riise’s cross past a helpless Dida.
Milan were now on the back foot and their lead was halved when Vladamir Smicer’s strike found the bottom corner. The momentum was with Liverpool as Gennaro Gattuso brought down Gerrard for a penalty. Dida saved Xabi Alonso’s spot-kick but the Spaniard latched onto the rebound, firing the ball into the roof off the net. It was now 3-3 and Milan were stunned.
After heroics from Dudek in extra time, the game went to penalties.
Serginho and Pirlo missed Milan’s first two penalties as Hamann (with a broken foot) and Djibril Cisse converted both of theirs. Jon Dahl Tomasson and Kaka pulled it back to 2-2 on penalties before Smicer made it 3-2 to Liverpool.
It was down to Shevchenko to keep Milan in it. He dispatched his spot-kick down the middle, Dudek was diving right but somehow managed to parry the ball away. Liverpool clinched the trophy as Milan were left stunned.
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