The 2005 Champions League finale will always be remembered as the greatest Cup Final in the history of the tournament. The “Miracle in Istanbul” was pure ecstasy for Liverpool and will go down as Milan’s worst ever moment. Until the night of May 25, 2005, the Champions League final in 1999 was regarded as the most dramatic, when Manchester United scored two goals in the dying moments of the game to snatch victory from an unlucky Bayern Munich side.
Liverpool reached the final of this prestigious tournament for the first time in 20 years. The Merseyside giants were determined to win their fifth European Cup and bring the trophy home. Liverpool was up against seven time winners AC Milan. Paolo Maldini, a five time winner himself, was the skipper of the Italian giants.
Within minutes of the whistle being blown, Liverpool received an early blow in the first minute of the game when Maldini scored from th edge of the box. Crespo then scored a clinical brace before the end of first half, which left Rafa Benitez’s side with a mountain to climb. The travelling KOP fans were in total disbelief.
Steven Gerrard, the skipper of Liverpool, made it a point to prove that ‘Nothing is Impossible’. Gerrard scored a towering header and gave the crowd something to cheer for. But the second goal by Smicer just two minutes later was the real impetus for the Reds. Gerrard was a perfect leader throughout the second half as he tried to lift the morale of his players and the Liverpool fans were also fantastic in their support. Just four minutes later, Liverpool were handed a penalty and Xabi Alonso stepped up to draw the scores level. Xabi’s penalty was stopped by Dida but the Spaniard scored on the rebound. It was a fairytale comeback for the Red half of Merseyside. The equalizer was enough to boost their chances of winning the Cup. Gerrard was everywhere on the pitch, making great passes and also making crucial sliding tackles in the centre of midfield.
90 minutes were not enough to decide the best final of all time. It was a closely contested extra time period with Dudek being an instrumental figure for Liverpool as he kept Shevchenko’s double shot out of his goal. It was then left to penalties to decide the 2005 Champions League winner.
Serginho and Pirlo missed the first two penalties for Milan. On the contrary, Hamman and Cisse scored giving the edge to Liveprool. Tomasson scored and Risse’s miss gave a glimmer of hope for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. But soon that feeling of relief changed to despair. Although, Kaka equalized the score to 2-2, Smicer made it 3-2. Shevchenko’s penalty was saved by Dudek, and Liverpool were deservedly crowned Champions of Europe for the fifth time in their history. The “Miracle of Istanbul” is destined to go down as the best Champions League Final of all time.