Liverpool host Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday night. It will be the first time the Reds play at Anfield as the six times European Champions, in an outing also notable for being the first home game since THAT night against Barcelona.
Anfield has seen some memorable nights under the floodlights — the downing of the Catalan giants last season is far from the only one. Something about the stadium and the crowd intimidates anyone who visits, and that’s amplified ten-fold when it happens to be a European game.
Let’s take a look at some of the best…
10. Manchester City – 2018
There were several Anfield nights en-route to Kiev in 2018/19 that raised eyebrows, but perhaps the all-English showdown with Manchester City tops the lot.
Pep Guardiola’s side were installed as overwhelming favourites as they cantered to the Premier League title, but Jürgen Klopp’s men came up with the perfect game plan to blitz the visitors.
Liverpool were 3-0 up after just 31 minutes. Mohamed Salah netted the opener, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain blasted in a spectacular second and Sadio Mané fired in the third with a well-placed header. Liverpool took that 3-0 lead to the Etihad and left with another victory to set up a semi-final with Roma.
This game was extra special to me, as the match was being played, my son was entering the world. So this game will always be close to my heart. I managed to watch the second half with him.
9. Real Madrid – 2009
Liverpool produced an absolute masterclass at Anfield which tore Los Blancos apart.
Leading 1-0 with a crucial away goal secured via a Yossi Benayoun header at the Bernabeu, Liverpool approached the game confidently and left Real smarting. Rafa’s Reds put in a dominant performance which saw the embodiment of the Torres/Gerrard partnership.
Fernando Torres — hated by the Madrid fans — was in scintillating form and opened the scoring in the first half. A Steven Gerrard penalty made in 2-0 to Reds going into the break.
The skipper added a third early into the second half and Andrea Dossena then came off the bench to net a last-minute goal. This wrapped up a stunning 5-0 aggregate victory over the tournament’s most successful team.
8. Chelsea – 2007
The second Champions League semi-final against Chelsea. This time, a 1-0 first-leg defeat at Stamford Bridge had to be overturned.
An expectant crowd packed into Anfield early on a glorious spring evening, and their support was rewarded when Daniel Agger netted in the 22nd minute after a clever free-kick routine from Steven Gerrard.
With Jamie Carragher making a record-breaking 90th European appearance in a red shirt, he and Agger nullified the threat of Didier Drogba. Often declared as one of Carragher’s sternest battles, not least by Jamie himself, Drogba found himself up against an impenetrable defensive wall.
A disallowed goal from Dirk Kuyt in extra-time meant that the tie was to be settled by the drama of a penalty shoot-out.
Pepe Reina was the hero, saving two spot-kicks from Arjen Robben and Geremi. Bolo Zenden, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard all scored from the spot.
It was left for Kuyt, the man for the big occasion, to slot home the winning kick and send the Reds to Athens, and to a second final in three years.
7. Borussia Dortmund – 2016
Dejan Lovren headed home a memorable winner in front of the Kop as Liverpool reached their first Europa League semi-final since 2001, after an incredible victory over German giants Borussia Dortmund.
After a 1-1 first-leg draw in Germany, Jurgen Klopp was hoping to inspire his side to a famous triumph over his former club.
On the eve of the Hillsborough anniversary, both sets of supporters joined together to pay a touching tribute to the 96 before the game and gave the most heartfelt rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone. Goosebumps all around the ground.
Dortmund made an unbelievable start to go 2-0 up after just nine minutes. At the start of the second half, Divock Origi pulled a goal back at but Marco Reus soon restored the visitors’ cushion.
But Liverpool were not dead and buried just yet.
Philippe Coutinho’s superb finish was followed by a Mamadou Sakho equaliser with 12 minutes left to play.
As time ticked away and Liverpool’s hopes looked to have been extinguished, ‘Mr. Dependable’ James Milner crossed from the right and Lovren powered home a header in stoppage time to send Anfield into meltdown and Liverpool to another European semi-final.
6. Bruges – 1976
Anfield staged a European showpiece when Liverpool met Bruges in the first leg of the UEFA Cup final.
Things did not get off to a good start, however, as the Belgian outfit established a 2-0 lead going into the half-time break.
But a glorious five-minute spell in the second half turned the tie on its head; Kennedy scored on 59 minutes, substitute Jimmy Case equalised two minutes later, and Keegan netted a 64th-minute penalty.
The latter scored in the second leg, too, as the Reds won 4-3 on aggregate to lift the UEFA Cup for the second time in the club’s history.
5. Olympiacos – 2004
“I don’t want to wake up Thursday morning and be in the UEFA Cup”Steven Gerrard in his pre-match press conference.
The task was simple — win by two clear goals and the knockout stages of the Champions League beckoned for Liverpool.
The Reds never do things the easy way. Especially when Rivaldo — with his Brazilian brilliance — drilled a free-kick beyond the reach of Chris Kirkland in front of the Kop for the opening goal.
As the second half got under-way, Benitez made his first substitution as he unleashed Florent Sinama-Pongolle from the bench and he levelled the scores two minutes after the restart. Time was ticking away and it looked as though luck would not be on Liverpool’s side as Steven Gerrard had a goal ruled out for offside.
Benitez then had his second stroke of genius as he brought on Neil Mellor who had a night to remember. He made it 2-1 with 10 minutes to play and gave everyone inside Anfield the drive to keep chanting and singing to push Liverpool for that crucial third goal.
It was Mellor’s “lovely cushioned header” that teed up Steven Gerrard for THAT goal that sent Anfield into the stratosphere and Liverpool into the knockout stages of the competition. The rest as they say…is history!
4. Inter Milan – 1965
After winning the FA Cup for the first time against Leeds United at Wembley, Bill Shankly’s men stepped into a red-hot atmosphere for the European Cup semi-final first-leg tie.
With Liverpool taking the game to their opponents, Roger Hunt opened the scoring after just four minutes, but the lead did not last long, Alessandro Mazzola gave Inter a priceless away goal.
Ian Callaghan restored the Reds’ advantage, though, and Ian St. John capped off a special evening for the Anfield crowd by making it 3-1.
Inter would go on to win the tie on a controversial night in Italy, but memories of the first leg remain precious to those who witnessed it.
3. Saint-Etienne – 1977
This is the night David Fairclough was immortalised as a ‘Super Sub’.
Coming into the game on the back of a 1-0 first-leg defeat in France, the stage was set as a crowd of over 55,000 packed into Anfield. The Kop was in full voice and was even louder when Kevin Keegan levelled the tie in the second minute.
Their cheers were temporarily silenced on 51 minutes as Bathenay fired in a spectacular effort beyond Ray Clemence, but Ray Kennedy edged the home side back in front to set up a nail-biting finish.
Bob Paisley turned to Fairclough, who came off the bench in his trademark No.12 shirt.
Six minutes from time, the substitute latched onto Kennedy’s ball over the top and kept his cool to net the winner in front of the swaying Kop.
Fairclough had laid the foundations for the club’s first ever European Cup win.
2. Chelsea – 2005
Rafael Benítez guided Liverpool to the Champions League final with a never-to-be-forgotten victory over José Mourinho’s Chelsea. A victory that will live long in the memory of all that witnessed it.
After a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the semi-final, hopes were high that the Reds could reach a first final in the competition since 1985. Fans gathered inside the ground earlier than usual and the atmosphere was truly something to see.
Liverpool made the perfect start, a clever chipped ball from Steven Gerrard put Milan Baros through on goal. As Baroš was brought down by the onrushing Petr Čech, it was Luis García who was quick enough to flick the ball past John Terry into the open net and score what has become the infamous ghost goal.
The drama continued until the very end and, Chelsea were dominant, and Liverpool defended for their lives. With six minutes of stoppage-time added, Eiður Guðjohnsen had a last-gasp chance to win the tie for Chelsea on away goals. Anfield held its collective breath but the shot was dragged wide in front of the Kop and Liverpool were off to Istanbul and we all know what happened there.
1. Barcelona – 2019
Dubbed ‘The Miracle of Anfield’, that night against the Catalan giants will go down as the greatest night in the history of the stadium.
Losing 3-0 from the first leg of this semi-final added to the dampened mood that was bestowed by a rare Vincent Kompany winner the night before against Leicester and the crippling fact that neither Mo Salah nor Bobby Firmino would be available to play, made it look like a mammoth task for Liverpool to secure a spot in the final of Europe’s greatest cup competition.
Six minutes in, Divock Origi set Anfield on a rollercoaster of emotions and lifted the spirits of everybody connected to Liverpool Football Club. He slotted home the early goal that was required and Anfield was alive once again with new hope.
In the second half, Gini Wijnaldum came on as a substitute to score a brace in quick succession to equal the tie at three goals each and Anfield erupted like never before.
But it was in the 79th minute when the quick thinking of Trent Alexander-Arnold (and a clever ball boy) whipped in a cheeky corner to the unsuspecting Barcelona defenders and Origi was there to tap home the fourth goal that sent the Reds to Madrid.
That night epitomised everything about this wonderful football club and showcased why we are a team that never gives up, gives everything to the last minute and why Anfield on a European night is very special.