2005 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL
LIVERPOOL Vs AC MILAN
25th May 2005
The greatest football match I have ever watched live in my life. The greatest come back ever.
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The 2005 UEFA Champions League Final was the final match of the 2004–05 UEFA Champions League, Europe's primary club football competition. The show-piece event was contested between Liverpool of England and Milan of Italy at the Atatürk Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey on 25 May 2005. Liverpool, who had won the competition four times, were appearing in their sixth final, and their first since the Heysel Stadium disaster in 1985. Milan, who had won the competition six times, were appearing in their second final in three years and tenth overall.
Each club needed to progress through the group stage and knockout rounds to reach the final, playing 12 matches in total. Liverpool finished second in their group behind 2004 runners-up Monaco and subsequently beat Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea to progress to the final. Milan won their group ahead of Barcelona and faced Manchester United, Internazionale and PSV Eindhoven before reaching the final.
Milan were regarded as favourites before the match and took the lead within the first minute through captain Paolo Maldini. Milan striker Hernán Crespo added two more goals before half-time to make it 3–0. During the second half, in a stunning comeback, Liverpool scored three goals in six minutes to level the scores at 3–3, the goals coming courtesy of Steven Gerrard, Vladimír Šmicer and Xabi Alonso. The scores remained the same during extra time, and a penalty shootout was required to decide the champions. The score was 3–2 to Liverpool when Andriy Shevchenko's penalty was saved by Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek. Thus Liverpool had won their fifth European Cup, claiming the UEFA Badge of Honour in the process. The match is often referred to as the "Miracle of Istanbul"
Liverpool fielded a 4–4–1–1 formation, with the surprise inclusion in the squad being Harry Kewell, who played just behind Milan Baroš, who himself had been picked ahead of Djibril Cissé. The inclusion of Kewell meant Dietmar Hamann was left on the substitutes' bench and Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard started in the centre of midfield. Milan fielded a 4–4–2 diamond formation, with Hernán Crespo preferred to Jon Dahl Tomasson and Filippo Inzaghi, who was not included in the match day squad. Liverpool lined up in their red home kit, whilst Milan wore a changed strip of all white. Liverpool won the toss and kicked off.
Milan scored within the first minute of the match after captain Paolo Maldini volleyed in an Andrea Pirlo free-kick which had been conceded by Djimi Traoré. As a result of scoring, Maldini became the oldest scorer in the competition. Liverpool responded almost immediately; John Arne Riise, who was picked out by a corner kick from Steven Gerrard, hit a volley from the edge of the penalty box. His shot was cleared only for Gerrard to cross in from the right wing, which Sami Hyypiä headed towards goal producing a save out of Dida. Milan almost extended their lead in the 13th minute, after Crespo's header was cleared off the goal line by Luis García. A few minutes later, Liverpool made a substitution after Harry Kewell picked up a groin injury; he was replaced by Vladimír Šmicer. Soon after, Kaká passed through to Andriy Shevchenko who put his shot past Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, but Shevchenko was adjudged to have been in an offside position and the goal did not stand. Shevchenko had another chance to score a few minutes later; after being played onside by Traore, his shot was saved by Dudek after he came under pressure from the Liverpool defence. Luis García had two chances to score following Shevchenko's shot; the first shot from the edge of the penalty area went well over the crossbar and after he was headed through by Baroš his next shot went wide. Straight after this attack, Crespo went through on goal only to be flagged for offside. Almost immediately after this, Liverpool had a penalty claim turned down after Alessandro Nesta allegedly handballed. Milan countered and scored; Kaka dribbled the ball into the Liverpool half and passed to Shevchenko, who passed to Crespo at the far post to score and make it 2–0. Minutes later, Crespo extended Milan's lead with a chip over Dudek after Kaka provided the assist.
At the start of the second half, Liverpool made a substitution with Dietmar Hamann replacing Steve Finnan. Following this, they decided to play three in defence and four in midfield in an attempt to reduce the deficit. Liverpool had the best chance early on with Xabi Alonso sending an effort from 35 yards (32 m) narrowly past Milan's right hand post. A minute later Liverpool scored through captain Steven Gerrard, who headed in John Arne Riise's cross. Soon afterwards, Liverpool scored again; Vladimír Šmicer beat Dida in the Milan goal to leave Liverpool a goal behind. Three minutes after Šmicer's goal Liverpool were awarded a penalty, after Steven Gerrard was judged to have been fouled by Gennaro Gattuso. Xabi Alonso's penalty was saved, but he scored from the rebound to equalise for Liverpool. Milan and Liverpool had chances to take the lead after this, but Clarence Seedorf and Riise failed to score.
Milan almost took the lead in the 70th minute, after Dudek dropped a low cross towards Shevchenko, whose effort was cleared off the line by Traore. Gerrard then had a chance to score but he sent his shot over the crossbar. About ten minutes later García could not control a pass from Gerrard which led to a Milan attack, Crespo played the ball back to Kaka, whose subsequent shot was blocked by Jamie Carragher. A number of substitutions were made before the end of full time with Liverpool replacing Milan Baroš with Djibril Cissé, while Milan replaced Hernán Crespo and Clarence Seedorf with Jon Dahl Tomasson and Serginho respectively. Milan had the last chance before full time but Kaka failed to direct Jaap Stam's header towards goal, meaning the final would go to extra time for the 13th time in the competition's history.
Liverpool kicked off the first half of extra time. Pirlo had a chance in the early stages, but he put his shot over the crossbar. Tomasson came close in the later stages of the first period of extra time, but he could not make contact with the ball. Vladimir Šmicer required treatment for cramp towards the end of the first period, as a number of Liverpool players felt fatigued. Liverpool had the most of the early exchanges after winning two corners, but could not score. Shortly afterwards, Milan make their final substitution replacing Gennaro Gattuso with Rui Costa. The best chance of the second half came near the end when Shevchenko shot at goal. Dudek saved only for it to rebound back out to Shevchenko, who again shot from under 6 yards (5.5 m), which Dudek again saved by pushing the shot over the bar. Liverpool had one last chance at the end of extra time, but John Arne Riise's free kick shot was blocked and following this the referee signalled the end of extra time, which meant a penalty shootout would decide the championship.
Liverpool and Milan had each won their last European Cups after penalties and it was also the second time in three years the final would be decided by a penalty shootout. Milan were first to take a penalty but Serginho shot over the crossbar after attempts from Jerzy Dudek to distract him. Dietmar Hamann took Liverpool's first penalty, despite suffering from a broken toe, scoring to put his side 1–0 up. Andrea Pirlo was next for Milan, and his penalty was saved as Dudek dived to his right to save the shot. Cisse scored his penalty to put Liverpool 2–0 up. Tomasson scored Milan's next penalty to reduce the deficit. Riise was next for Liverpool, but his penalty was saved by Dida. Kaka scored the subsequent penalty to level the scores at 2–2. Vladimír Šmicer was next for Liverpool and scored to give them a one goal advantage. Shevchenko who had scored the winning penalty in the 2003 final had to score or Liverpool would win. He hit his penalty straight down the middle of the goal. Dudek went down to his right but he blocked the shot with his left hand to ensure Liverpool won 3–2 and claimed their fifth European Cup.
YOU'LL NEVER WALK ALONE
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