Top five: Match-winning volleys from the modern era (2)

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5) Steven Gerrard, Liverpool vs Olympiakos

Rafael Benitez's Liverpool side went into their final game of the Group stages of the Champions League needing to beat Rivaldo's Olympiakos side by at least two goals to pip them to second position in the group table and ensure qualification for the knockout rounds.

They started the game well, getting three corners in the first two minutes, even having a goal disallowed, but Olympiakos slowly grew into the game, and took the lead on 26 minutes via a beautiful free-kick from the magical Rivaldo.

Needing three goals, Benitez bought on substitutes Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor who both scored in the second half (on 47 and 81 minutes respectively) to give Liverpool a 2-1 lead.

The clock read 85 minutes, and Liverpool, having been denied two penalty appeals following Mellor's goal, still needed a third goal to ensure progress.

In a twist in the script that only the man who would later in his career come to be called Captain Fantastic could have provided, Steven Gerrard stepped up to the plate and delivered in spectacular style.

After a decent spell of possession from a throw-in on the left flank, a ball was floated into the box, and Mellor headed the ball back out towards the edge of the penalty area with a deft cushioned touch.

The ball seemed to have fallen into no man's land, but Steven Gerrard timed his lung-busting run to perfection to meet the ball on the bounce, and fired an unstoppable volley into the bottom corner of the Olympiakos goal.

From the very moment his right boot connected with the ball, everyone in Anfield knew what would follow, and as the ball nearly burst straight through the goal netting and Gerrard wheeled away towards the fans in jubilant celebration, the 40,000 Liverpudlians in attendance at Anfield rose to their feet in ecstatic awe of what they had just seen.

The goal was brilliant not just for the ferocity with which the Liverpool number eight had struck the ball, but for the circumstances under which Gerrard had pulled it out of his hat.

It was Gerrard's greatest moment in a Liverpool shirt at that time, and - having stood the test of time over the last few years - will continue to be an enduring memory of the glorious 2004-05 European campaign for Liverpool fans around the world.

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Paul Scholes
Steven Gerrard
Zinedine Zidane

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