Liverpool shock Milan in miracle of Istanbul

Atatürk Olimpiyat Stadium, Istanbul – 25/05/2005 – Final
Maldini 1 Crespo 39, 44
3 - 3
  • Gerrard 54
  • Šmicer 56
  • Xabi Alonso 60
Back from the brink

"I was sitting there and my head was in my hands: I thought it was over." Steven Gerrard


• AC Milan's 3-0 advantage against Liverpool FC was the biggest half-time lead in a UEFA Champions League showpiece. The 3-3 score at the end of the game made it the highest scoring final in the competition's history.

• Arsenal FC's Cesc Fàbregas became the competition's second youngest scorer, aged 17 years and 218 days, with a goal against Rosenborg BK, the same opponents when Olympiacos FC's Peter Ofori-Quaye set the record in 1997.

• Deportivo became the first side in UEFA Champions League history to go through the group stage without scoring, though Javier Irureta's charges did restrict eventual winners Liverpool to a goalless draw at Anfield.

"I was sitting there and my head was in my hands, I thought it was over."

Even Liverpool's talismanic, never-say-die captain Steven Gerrard thought the writing was on the wall when his side trudged into half-time 3-0 down against AC Milan having been out-passed, outclassed and outwitted. Then came the Miracle of Istanbul.

Gerrard's Rossoneri counterpart, Paolo Maldini, had given his side a dream start when he volleyed in Andrea Pirlo's whipped free-kick from near to a penalty spot which would be the focus of attention aplenty later in the evening.

The night had long since drawn in when Liverpool first found themselves chasing shadows, none less productively than that of Kaká. At his effortless, silky best, the Brazilian maestro was, at times, untouchable.

His blink-and-you'll-miss-it counterattack was the catalyst for Hernán Crespo to double Milan's lead six minutes before the interval, before a sublime pass from his own half teed up the clinical Argentinian marksman to dink past Jerzy Dudek with a delightfully languid first touch.

With the sound of a defiant half-time rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone still ringing in his ears, nine minutes into the second period Gerrard wrenched his head from his hands and on to John Arne Riise's cross. From on that now familiar penalty spot, the England midfielder's sheer will generated sufficient power to beat Dida.

The Milan keeper could not keep out a low drive from Vladimír Šmicer – an early replacement for the injured Harry Kewell – two minutes later either. The travelling Liverpool hordes suddenly believed; so, crucially, did Gerrard.

Rampaging forward in inimitable style, he was hauled down by Gennaro Gattuso on the hour. Denied by Dida from THAT spot, Xabi Alonso beat Alessandro Nesta to the rebound. Six minutes, three goals, one remarkable turnaround.

Milan rallied, Shevchenko rebuffed by Djimi Traoré's goal goal-line clearance and Dudek's astonishing, point-blank double save in extra time, but penalties, from you-know-where, now seemed inevitable.

Imitating Bruce Grobbelaar's spaghetti-leg antics from the 1984 European Cup showpiece, Dudek kept out Pirlo after Serginho had blasted over, before repelling Shevchenko to complete Liverpool's very own Lazarus act.

Star players

  • Dudek

    An iconic figure in Poland, Dudek's humility and dedication have ensured him of cult status wherever he has been. He hit the big time with Feyenoord, winning the 1999 Eredivisie title. Tempted to Liverpool FC, he added the 2005 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup, as well as an FA Cup, while at Anfield. A veteran of 59 caps, Dudek has performed the role of Real Madrid CF understudy since 2007.

  • Gerrard

    The Liverpool FC captain is a one-club man for whom rescuing his side is part of the day job. The catalyst for the Reds' remarkable UEFA Champions League triumph in 2005, and subsequently UEFA Club Footballer of the Year, the England stalwart also has two FA Cups, two UEFA Super Cups and a UEFA Cup to his name. The Premier League crown, though, continues to elude him.

  • Crespo

    A UEFA Champions League scorer for five different clubs, Crespo burst on to the scene with Parma FC. A transfer worth a record €35m to S.S. Lazio followed, before spells at both Milan giants and Chelsea FC, where he claimed the 2006 English title. A UEFA Champions League runner-up in 2005 despite scoring twice in the final, in 1999 he scored in Parma's UEFA Cup final triumph over Olympique de Marseille.

What happened next?

• There were more backs-to-the-wall heroics from Liverpool FC the following May, in the FA Cup final, where Steven Gerrard's 91st-minute strike earned a 3-3 draw with West Ham United FC to eventually set up penalties, which they won 3-1.

• The arrival of Pepe Reina from Villarreal CF meant Jerzy Dudek, Liverpool's 2005 final hero, was restricted to just six league games in 2005/06 as they came third. He joined Real Madrid CF in 2007, providing backup to Iker Casillas.

• Liverpool's UEFA Champions League defence ended with a 3-0 aggregate defeat by SL Benfica in the last 16; AC Milan reached the semi-finals but were thwarted by a sole Ludovic Guily goal over two legs against eventual winners FC Barcelona.

• The Rossoneri reached the 2007 final in Athens, where they exacted revenge on Liverpool with a 2-1 victory, Filippo Inzaghi scoring twice. Carlo Ancelotti was again at the helm, with seven of the 2005 starting XI included from the off.

• Carlo Ancelotti and Rafael Benítez renewed acquaintances in 2009/10, the Italian's debut campaign at the helm of Chelsea. The Blues won 2-0 at Stamford Bridge and – in what proved Benítez's penultimate game in charge – Anfield.

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