Champions League 1/4 Finals: Back to the Future

Liverpool Crest

In the build-up to the ¼ final of the Champions League this week between Liverpool and Manchester City, we have a look at the last 4 games that Anfield has showcased matches at the same stage.

2008 – 2009 Season

A stunning 5-0 aggregate win over the Spanish giants Real Madrid had set-up a ¼ final clash with Rafa Benitez’s old enemy in Chelsea. The first leg was to be staged at Anfield, with the return leg a week later at Stamford Bridge.

An expectant crowd at Anfield of just over 42,000 were sent into raptures with an early Fernando Torres goal but Guus Hiddink’s Chelsea recovered superbly to take control of the tie and stun the Anfield faithful.

Two corners were the undoing of the reds, with Branislav Ivanovic converting them both, with his first goals for the club. Chelsea added a third and put the tie virtually beyond the reach of Liverpool when Didier Drogba converted a low cross by Florent Malouda.

Michael Essien’s re-emergence on the night overshadowed Steven Gerrard, who couldn’t raise his teammates for any sign of a comeback. It was a disappointing result and meant the tie was almost finished on the night.

The second leg was a thriller, finishing 4-4 on the night but it was the reds who exited the competition despite a spirited performance on the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary.

2007 – 2008 Season

The reds had beaten Inter Milan over two legs in the previous round to set up another all English clash, this time with Arsenal.

The first leg was at The Emirates and finished 1-1, with Emmanuel Adebayor’s strike being equalised by Dirk Kuyt to set-up an intriguing second leg at Anfield. Around 42,000 watched a thrilling tie that wasn’t settled until almost the final whistle.

Arsenal took an early lead and the upper hand in the tie with an early, rare strike from Abou Diaby. Sami Hyypia levelled with a header to leave the tie drawing as half-time came and went.

Liverpool took the lead through Fernando Torres and the Anfield crowd was yet again bouncing. That would disappear with just six minutes left on the clock when Adebayor put the Gunners in the lead by the away goals rule and it looked like Liverpool were going out.

Kolo Toure, a future Liverpool player, gave the reds hope when he fouled Ryan Babel in the penalty box. Steven Gerrard converted the penalty in a cool fashion, to take the lead. With time ticking away Kuyt’s pass sent Ryan Babel away, who converted in fine style to take the roof off Anfield and send the reds through.

Liverpool’s reward was a semi-final clash with Chelsea, which they lost after drawing the first leg at Anfield 1-1 but losing down at the Bridge 3-2.

2006 – 2007 Season

Liverpool had beaten Barcelona with away goals in the previous round to set up the two-legged affair with the Dutch team PSV Eindhoven.

The away leg was first and a superb performance by the reds virtually killed the tie before the return to Anfield a week later. Goals by Gerrard, John Arne Riise and Peter Crouch had given Benitez’s side a commanding lead over a side managed by Ronald Koeman.

Nearly 42,000 packed Anfield a week later and a Peter Crouch goal gave the reds an uncatchable lead in a drab match on the night. Jamie Carragher and Steve Finnan had been rested due to the lead from the first leg but the Dutch never had any answers to a reds team now cementing themselves in the latter stages of the Champions League in these years.

Chelsea were dispatched in the semi-finals with a penalty shoot-out win at Anfield, before a disappointing night in Athens when AC Milan recaptured the famous trophy.

2004 – 2005 Season

Bayer Leverkusen were easily dispatched 6-2 on aggregate to set up a massive ¼ final tie with Italian giants Juventus. The first leg was at Anfield and was the first competitive game since the Heysel Stadium disaster nearly 20 years earlier.

The match was preceded with a series of tributes to Heysel, with a ‘In Friendship’ banner carried away the pitch pre-game and Kop mosaic unveiled before kick-off. There was also a moments silence for the Pope, who had recently passed away.

On an emotional and tense night at Anfield, the Reds took a narrow 2-1 lead to Turin for the second leg. The crowd were exceptional yet again and cheered the reds on from start to finish.

A volley from Hyypia and a screamer from the little Spaniard Luis Garica had given the reds a 2-0 lead, before an away goal by Fabio Cannavaro. The biggest surprise of the night was Benitez selecting the young and unproven Scott Carson in goal.

Despite that away goal, it was a good performance by the reds against a star-studded Juventus side containing the likes of Alessandro Del Piero, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pavel Nedved.

A back to the wall performance a week later in Turin saw the reds into the semi-final with a Benitez inspired 0-0 draw, with Xabi Alonso, returning from injury, controlling the tempo of the game.

Chelsea were knocked out in the semi-finals by Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ and the famous trophy returned to Merseyside after that thrilling night in Istanbul when we beat AC Milan, in that never to be forgotten match.