Seven years ago today (Friday), Liverpool pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in football history to lift the Champions League trophy.
A Steven Gerrard-inspired Reds came back from three-goals down to become champions of Europe, beating AC Milan on penalties as Jerzy Dudek became an overnight hero on Merseyside.
That balmy night in Istanbul remains one of English domestic football’s greatest evenings, but other top Premier League sides have produced similar dramatic feats on the big stage.
Chelsea are, of course, the latest team to have their moment in the sun, beating Bayern Munich on their own patch – also on penalties – to win the first European Cup in their history.
And then there is Manchester United’s night of glory, also against Bayern Munich, although this was at the Nou Camp as Sir Alex Ferguson’s side snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
The great nights, three Champions League winners – but whose achievement is the greatest? Let us know your thoughts at the end of the article…
Bayern Munich 1-2 Manchester United
26/05/99 - Camp Nou, Barcelona
Having already lifted the Premier League and FA Cup trophies, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side traveled to Spain knowing victory would hand them a famous treble.
However, suspensions to Roy Keane and Paul Scholes meant the Red Devils were weakened in centre midfield, and it showed as the Bundesliga champions took control early on.
Mario Basler’s sixth-minute free-kick, which went low around the wall and into the bottom corner, gave Bayern a lead they wouldn’t relinquish in the first period as play was tight and chances at a premium.
Things opened up in the second period, and the best chances fell to Bayern as midfielder Mehmet Scholl hit the post with a chip over Peter Schmeichel. Carsten Jancker then crashed an overhead kick onto the crossbar, as the game swung towards Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side.
However, injury-time belonged to the Red Devils, with Teddy Sheringham grabbing the equaliser with a low finish past Oliver Kahn. David Beckham’s corner was initially cleared, but Ryan Giggs’ mis-hit shot fell to the substitute striker, who found the bottom corner on 91 minutes.
With extra-time now around the corner, United proceeded to win another corner. Beckham delivered perfectly for Sheringham, who flicked on for Ole Gunnar-Solskjaer – another second-half substitute – to direct the ball into the roof of the net.
Pandemonium followed on one of English football’s great nights.
AC Milan 3-3 Liverpool (Liv win 3-2 on pens)
25/05/05 - Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul
A quite incredible comeback from Rafa Benitez’s Reds, who found themselves 3-0 down at half-time after goals from Paolo Maldini and Hernan Crespo (2).
The Italian international and Milan skipper netted after just a minute, connecting with Andrea Pirlo’s free-kick to put the Serie ‘A’ outfit in-front.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominated proceedings throughout the first period, and took advantage on 39 minutes when Andriy Shevchenko’s low cross was met by Crespo to coolly tuck the ball home.
Five minutes later, it was Kaka who found the Argentine striker, and he again made no mistake when faced with the Polish keeper, chipping over Dudek to seemingly seal the game at half-time.
Didi Hamman was introduced to try and change things for the Reds, and the impact was felt almost instantly. Giving skipper Steven Gerrard more freedom, the England international took advantage with a 53rd minute header from John Arne Riise’s cross.
A minute later and it was game on, as Vladimir Smicer’s long-range effort somehow beat Brazilian stopper Dida. Gennaro Gattuso then pulled Gerrard down in the box, and Liverpool had the chance to make it 3-3 in a mad seven-minute spell.
Xabi Alonso’s penalty was saved, but he put home the rebound to equalise and put the game back on a knife-edge.
Djimi Traore’s goal-line clearance and Dudek’s stunning save to deny Shevchenko somehow kept the scores level through 90 minutes and then extra-time, before the dramatic shoot-out when the way of the Reds.
Serginho and Pirlo missed the first two for Milan, whilst Hamann and Djibril Cisse netted for Liverpool. Riise’s miss gave AC a lifeline after Jon Dahl Tomasson had scored his, and Kaka pulled them level before Smicer gave his side the lead again.
With Milan’s last penalty, Shevchenko’s ‘chip’ down the middle was saved by Dudek, and Liverpool had got their name on the famous trophy for the first time in the Champions League era.
Bayern Munich 1-1 Chelsea (Chels win 4-3 on pens)
19/05/12 – Allianz Arena, Munich
The latest dramatic English victory on Europe’s biggest stage, Chelsea had produced a minor miracle to make the final after victories against Napoli, Benfica and Barcelona under interim-manager Roberto Di Matteo.
Munich were lying in wait on Saturday night, with a home final one of many things seemingly in the German side’s favour.
Arjen Robben struck a post in the first-half, but Thomas Mueller’s header finally broke the deadlock on 83 minutes as victory appeared to be in their hands.
However, Didier Drogba had other ideas, leaping highest at a corner to equalise with a bullet header past Manuel Neuer.
The drama continued, as Robben then missed a penalty in extra-time, before penalties swung towards Bayern but then back to the victorious Blues.
Philip Lahm tucked home the first penalty before Juan Mata’s was saved. Mario Gomez, David Luiz, Neuer and Frank Lampard were all then successful with their efforts before Ivica Olic’s spot-kick was saved by Cech.
Ashley Cole took advantage to make the scores level, and then Cech repeated the trick by tipping Bastian Schweinsteiger’s effort onto the post. Drogba took advantage, and the cup came back to the English capital.
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