There hasn’t ever been a more even 3-0 defeat in Champions League, perhaps even all of football, history.
Liverpool have an incredible record in European Cup semi-finals, though, making it to the final from eight of the ten they’ve reached in the competition’s history.
By and large, they’ve ended up being tight affairs too, a struggle which the Reds have managed to overcome. We’ve taken a trip down memory lane for the five semi-finals in European Cup or Champions League-winning seasons.
1976/77 — vs Zurich
Liverpool had first reached this stage of the competition in 1964/65 but had to wait another decade to return. What became the club’s first European Cup triumph was their easiest semi-final tie by far.
Bob Paisley’s team travelled to Switzerland for the first leg and suffered an early setback, Zurich converting a sixth-minute penalty.
But Liverpool struck back. Phil Neal, who went on to score the final goal in the final, equalised just nine minutes later and scored a second on 67 minutes, with Steve Heighway getting on the scoresheet in between.
The return leg at Anfield was even more plain sailing. Jimmy Case scored a brace, with one coming in either half, and Kevin Keegan capped off a great performance to give the Reds a 6-1 aggregate win.
1977/78 — vs Borussia Monchengladbach
This was a replay of the final from the previous year, that Liverpool had won 3-1. The German side were determined not to let the Reds best them again.
The first leg was away from home again and Gladbach went one up just inside the half-hour through Wilfried Hannes. It stayed that way for most of the match until David Johnson equalised in the 89th minute.
Celebrations were shortlived, as Rainer Bonhof restored the German lead a minute later.
But the second leg was all Liverpool. Ray Kennedy scored after just six minutes, with Kenny Dalglish putting the Reds ahead in the tie on 35 minutes. He would go on to score the only goal of the game in the final against Club Brugge.
Jimmy Case again scored at Anfield in a European Cup semi-final ten minutes after half-time to give Pool a 3-0 second leg win.
1980/81 — vs Bayern Munich
The first leg of this tie was at Anfield, for the first time since the 1964/65 season when Pool were knocked out against eventual winners Inter. This tie’s first leg didn’t go exactly to plan, ending in a 0-0 draw.
For over 80 minutes, it looked like the return tie in Munich was going to go the same way. However, Ray Kennedy popped up with an important goal just as he had three years earlier, giving Liverpool a 1-0 lead.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge equalised on 88 minutes, but the German side couldn’t get another and the Reds went through to the final on away goals, where they beat Real Madrid 1-0.
1983/84 — vs Dinamo Bucharest
Another three years and the Reds were on their road to their fourth European Cup title in less than a decade. The first leg was again at Anfield, and a Sammy Lee goal on 25 minutes sent Joe Fagan’s team to Romania with a 1-0 lead.
It took just over 10 minutes for Liverpool to assert themselves away from home, Ian Rush getting on the scoresheet. Although Dinamo struck back shortly before half-time through Alexandru Nicolae, but they couldn’t get an equaliser.
Five minutes before full-time, Rush got his second of the game and Pool were through to another final, where Roma took the game to penalties but lost the shoot-out 4-2.
2004/05 — vs Chelsea
Twenty years after Liverpool’s last semi-final appearance — which saw a convincing win over Panathinaikos before narrowly falling to Juventus in the final — it was an all-English affair.
The first leg at Stamford Bridge finished 0-0 in a cagey affair where the two teams put together only took 13 shots.
The second leg had the same figure, but it was only one of them that mattered, Luis Garcia knocking the ball over the line for one of the most — let’s just say — iconic goals in Champions League history.
Twenty-two days later, the competition got several more iconic goals as Liverpool showed that being 3-0 down isn’t necessarily an obstacle to victory.
You know what they say about history: plenty of lessons to be learned.
Leave a comment
by Tom Bodell