ON THIS DAY: Seventeen years ago, Steven Gerrard lit the fuse of Liverpool ’s sensational 2004-05 Champions League triumph, with one majestic swing of his right foot
Some goals in football history identify themselves with their commentary alone. “Ohhhhh you beauty, what a hit son, what a hit,” are the iconic words screamed by a jubilant Andy Gray – you know what goal it is already.
As was the recurring theme during their magical European campaign, the Reds had to do it the hard way.
Fortunately. Gerrard had already promised he would do everything he could to insure the Reds did not find themselves out of Europe’s elite competition.
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“I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning in the Uefa Cup.” Gerrard said in the press conference before the tumultuous contest at Anfield.
The stage was set after Liverpool youngster Florent Sinama Pongolle levelled the score on the night, before Neil Mellor prodded the Reds within one goal of the Round of 16.
A premature exit from Europe’s elite competition was still on the cards despite those goals, but Gerrard was never going allow his side to tumble out of the competition.
When Mellor knocked the ball down for the legendary midfielder, the intake of breath from over 40,000 fans in Anfield could be felt as they saw their captain sprinting onto the ball with the unstoppable power of a steam train.
The nostalgic sounds emanating from Gerrard’s sweet connection on the half volley, the sumptuous rustle of the net, and the roar of the Anfield crowd continue to reverberate around Merseyside, and haunt the dreams of those Olympiacos players.
“When you are in that position and one falls for you it’s make or break at that moment,” Gerrard said in an interview with the Independent, before his final match for Liverpool in 2013.
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“Luckily for me it was one of the sweetest strikes I have ever hit. Just such a relief to see the net go.
“If I had to pick my favourite goal for connection and also the reaction of the crowd – that’s the one.
“The memory is still so strong. When I look back over my career so far it pops up as one of the main games.And it started the journey to Istanbul. And Andy Gray’s commentary made the goal even better than it was.”
It proved to be the catalyst of a magical Champions League journey, crescendoing into the Miracle of Istanbul which saw the Reds, overturn a three-goal deficit against AC Milan, before ousting the Italian giants in a penalty shootout.
Liverpool proceeded to sweep Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus aside in the next rounds, before ousting Jose Mourinho ’s Chelsea side in the controversial fashion to reach the final; setting the stage for the Miracle of Istanbul.
“We had no right to win the Champions League in 2005. We were probably the 10th, 12th best team in the tournament,” Gerrard added.
“With a little bit of luck and a bit of desire and determination that made up for the lack of ability.
“We went and achieved the impossible. A lot of top players all over the world never win the Champions League.”