Tonight, Liverpool complete in another European semi-final. This club has become synonymous with famous European games and last week’s first leg victory over Roma at Anfield was no different. Whether we can carry this into tonight’s second leg remains to be seen, although the omens are certainly in our favour. We have only been beaten in two semi-final ties ever in the Champions League. Not bad at all. We’ve faced some of the best teams in the world – and some teams you wouldn’t have thought would make it to the latter stages of continental football – on our way to glory. Here we will look at all of Liverpool’s European Cup/Champions League semi-finals since out first outing, which is where we start all the way back in 1965.
Inter Milan, 1964/65 – Lost 4-3 on aggregate
This has been a tie shrouded in controversy since the final whistle went in Milan fifty three years ago. After winning our first F.A Cup in the clubs history, beating Leeds United 2-1 at Wembley three days prior, Bill Shankly sent his battered and bruised squad out onto the pitch before kick-off – taking the F.A Cup with them to whip the already excited crowd into a frenzy. It was a tactic that worked a treat. Roger Hunt put Liverpool ahead within three minutes but Sandro Mazzola would equalise just seven minutes later. Ian Callaghan would put us back ahead before half-time before Ian St. John rounded off the scoring with fifteen minutes left. It looked like the tie was over and Liverpool would be playing at the San Siro twice in May. What followed went down in Anfield folklore as one of the greatest robberies in footballing history.
Firstly, Mario Corso took a free-kick in the eighth minute which the referee had signalled was indirect. Instead Corso took had a shot at goal and scored. Liverpool’s players looked to the referee expecting him to disallow the goal and order a retake. However, he ran back to the halfway line and the gave the goal. If Bill Shankly was incensed by that decision then he was hopping mad for Joaquin Peiro’s tie equaliser two minutes later. As Tommy Lawrence bounced the ball to kick it out of his hands, Peiro nicked the ball from Lawrence’s grasp and poked into an empty net. Lawrence remonstrated with the man in black but, again, no free kick was given for obstruction. Giacinto Facchetti completed the scoring just after the hour mark to send Inter into the final at the own ground. They went on to beat Benfica in the final 1-0 but their victory was tinged with the unfairness of their progression from the semi-final. Needless to say, Spanish referee Jose Maria Ortiz De Mendibil wasn’t invited to Merseyside for a pint after that game.
F.C Zurich, 1976/77 – Won 6-1 on aggregate
After an era defining turnaround against French champions Saint-Etienne in the quarter-finals, Bob Paisley’s men would take on F.C Zurich of Switzerland in the semi’s. Two goals from Phil Neal, one predictably from the penalty spot, and one from Steve Heighway with a solitary reply from Zurich put us in a strong position going into the second leg at Anfield. Back at home, the second leg went much better than the second leg in the quarter-final. Two from Jimmy Case and one from Kevin Keegan ensured we would be playing in our first European Cup final in Rome at the end of May. We would go on to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach at the home of tonight’s opponents to claim our maiden trophy in Europe’s premier competition.
Borussia Moenchengladbach, 1977/78 – Won 4-2 on aggregate
A repeat against last seasons beaten finalists was always going to be a tasty encounter for the neutrals and one Gladbach will have been looking to take some revenge from. Boasting the likes of Jupp Heynckes, Rainer Bonhof, and the 1976 European Footballer of the Year Allan Simonsen in their ranks, this was far from a given and so the first leg proved. Wilfried Hannes put the host ahead on fifty six minutes and it took until the eighty eighth minute for David Johnson to equalise. However, Gladbach would ensure they would take a lead to Anfield when Bonhof nicked a winner just a minute later.
If anyone doubted Liverpool would lose this tie back at Anfield though they would be greatly mistaken. Ray Kennedy levelled the aggregate score after just six minutes and Liverpool never looked back after that. Kenny Dalglish, the replacement for Hamburg-bound Kevin Keegan at the beginning of the season, put Liverpool ahead and Jimmy Case secured our place in the final by making it 3-0. Club Brugge awaited us at Wembley in the final and a single Dalglish goal was enough to claim our second European Cup in as many years.
Bayern Munich, 1980/81 – 1-1 on aggregate, won on away goals
Going into the semi-finals, the four teams competing – Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Inter Milan – had thirteen European Cups between them. There were certainly no easy games at this stage. Bayern Munich came to Anfield and went back to Bavaria with a hard-fought goalless draw. They were confident going into the second leg, so much so that the club had left leaflets in the seats in the stadium advising fans on how to get to Paris. Paul Breitner also stoked the fires by saying Liverpool played without intelligence in the first leg. Joe Fagan pinned both up on the wall in the dressing room of the Olympic Stadium before kick-off. No team talk needed.
Things got off to a rocky start for The Reds when Kenny Dalglish was forced off with an injury in the first half. Young Howard Gayle was his replacement and he would go on to write his name into Liverpool legend. The youngster ran his socks off all night and, ironically, had Paul Breitner on toast. His skill and movement set up Alan Kennedy to score the goal Liverpool needed. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge equalised late on but it wasn’t enough – Liverpool were through to another European Cup final. Real Madrid awaited us in Paris and a fantastic goal from Kennedy was all that was needed to bring number three back to Anfield.
Dinamo Bucharest, 1983/84 – Won 3-1 on aggregate
Going into the semi-finals, Liverpool and Roma were clearly the favourites to meet in the final. While Roma would face much more trouble over two legs against Dundee United in the other tie, Liverpool would be largely untroubled b y Dinamo Bucharest of Romania. Taking a 1-0 lead to Bucharest thanks to a solitary goal from Sammy Lee at Anfield, Ian Rush scored either side of a goal from Costel Orac to make sure Liverpool would be in Rome again. The rest, as they say, was history.
Panathinaikos, 1984/85 – Won 5-0 on aggregate
A year after claiming number four Liverpool on the verge of defending their crown. Greek champions Panathinaikos stood in our way first and, for a second year running, we clearly had the easier semi-final (Juventus faced Bordeaux in the other semi-final). A brace from Ian Rush, and goals from John Wark and Jim Beglin saw us take a 4-0 win to Athens. The was as good as over and the second leg seemed a formality. It certainly was that and Mark Lawrenson’s goal on the hour only served to add gloss to the scoreline.
The final was an affair marred by the events prior to kick-off, when thirty nine Juventus fans were killed when a wall collapsed as they ran away from onrushing Liverpool fans. Juventus won the game 1-0 with many being surprised it still went ahead following the tragedy. The consequences were much more far reaching than our own immediate dent to our pride though with the tragedy leading to British clubs being banned from European competition for five years. We wouldn’t grace the European Cup semi-finals again for twenty years.
Chelsea, 2004/05 – Won 1-0 on aggregate
After twenty years in the wilderness Liverpool were back with a bang. After a tight first leg draw at Stamford Bridge, Jose Mourinho’s recently crowned Premier League champions rolled into Anfield with a clear message that they stuck to the front windscreen of their team coach – “one down, one to go”. Revered as the best atmosphere of them all at Anfield, the ground was rocking hours before kick-off. Within four minutes we had the lead. Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ is still disputed to this day and the reality is that no one really knows whether it crossed the line or not. Regardless, Slovakian referee Lubos Michel ruled it had cross the line and gave the goal. Chelsea began to push forward but failed to trouble us. There was on very hairy moment when Eidur Gudjonsson flashed a volley across goal which nobody would could get a touch on. However, that was all Chelsea could muster and it was time again for Liverpool to grace a Europe– sorry, Champions League final. We would meet A.C Milan in the final and, well, I don’t need to tell you what happened in Istanbul.
Chelsea, 2006/07 – 1-1 on aggregate (won on pens)
In one of the most-exciting times to be a Liverpool fan in the Premier League era, it seemed like we were playing Chelsea in the semi-final of some competition annually. We went to Stamford Bridge for the first leg of this tie with a much stronger squad than the one we had two years previously. Despite that, Joe Cole would give Chelsea a 1-0 lead going into the second leg a week later. Another intense atmosphere welcomed both teams at Anfield and it took only twenty two minutes for Daniel Agger to level the scores. The game would eventually go to extra time and and penalties. After Pepe Reina saved penalties from Arjen Robben and Geremi, it was left for Dirk Kuyt to score the spot kick that would send us to Athens for the final.
We headed to Greece in much better shape than when we won the competition in such unbelievable circumstances in 2005. However, Milan had a point to prove and played as such. A deflected goal from Filippo Inzaghi on the stroke of half-time and another from the Italian front man, who was clearly offside this time, gave Milan a strong lead. A late Kuyt header gave Liverpool hope but Milan had the bit between their teeth and Inzaghi’s brace proved too much to overcome, giving the Nerrazzuri their seventh European crown.
Chelsea, 2007/08 – Lost 4-3 on aggregate
Having met Chelsea in each of the past three years in the Champions League (they were also drawn in our group in the 2005/06 season), we were drawn together again in 2008 with the added incentive of meeting Manchester United in the final in Moscow. In the unfamiliar position of playing the first leg at home, Dirk Kuyt gave us the lead just before half-time. However, an own goal from John Arne Riise in injury time gave Chelsea the onus in the second leg. At Stamford Bridge, they would take the lead on thirty three minutes through Didier Drogba and looked like holding on. Fernando Torres would pop up to equalise though on sixty four minutes and the game went into extra-time. Goals from Drogba and Frank Lampard proved to be insurmountable for Liverpool, although a late strike from Ryan Babel gave us a glimmer of hope which we were unable to capitalise on.
Chelsea met a fantastic Manchester United side in the final and were able to draw the game 1-1, but would go on to lose the game on penalties denying them their first Champions League.