No 75. – Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid
On the 10th of March 2009, Liverpool played Real Madrid at Anfield in the second leg of the Champions League second round – one of the most entertaining Champions League games of recent times. Liverpool produced one of their best performances of the 2008/09 season, demolishing Spanish giants Real Madrid 4-0 (5-0 on aggregate).
The following morning’s back pages were littered with praise for the Reds’ performance. It was, simply, a stroke of genius as they strolled into the quarter-finals of the competition and made Real Madrid, riding high in La Liga, look like boys.
The performance was quality from the word go and Liverpool looked untouchable as a shell-shocked Real Madrid found themselves two goals down within half an hour. ‘˜Steven Gerrard the red destroyer leads rout of mighty Real Madrid’ said The Times, ‘˜Benitez buries his critics under an avalanche of goals’ said The Guardian, ‘˜Torres lights up Anfield with his sheer brilliance’ said The Independent, ‘˜Rafa Benitez gets his respect’ said The Telegraph, ‘˜Madrid are pulverised by Gerrard and Torres’ said the Daily Mail, and ‘˜Reeling Madrid’ shouted the Daily Express.
Here, Max Munton recalls the match that will forever be etched in the annals of Liverpool’s history’¦..
It ended 4-0 on the night, 5-0 on aggregate, courtesy of two Steven Gerrard goals, an opener from Fernando Torres and Andrea Dossena added another late-on. The Reds’ front four of Gerrard, Torres, Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt caused Real massive problems and the first half an hour in particular saw Rafa Benitez’s side put Real to the sword.
The opening five minutes saw four corners and it set the tone for another glorious Anfield European night. Iker Casillas made numerous world class saves to keep his side in the tie early from Javier Mascherano and later to deny Torres a second at The Kop end.
Mascherano and Alonso controlled the midfield, Mascherano was back to his tigerish best winning tackles and snubbing out attacks before they started. The back four were solid and organised, with Arbeloa and Aurelio both getting forward to good effect too. Reina was, as ever, reliable when called upon.
Each and every player was on top form – including the crowd.
The opening goal arrived after Torres and Kuyt combined and the Spaniard poked home from 6 yards. The second soon followed from the penalty spot when Gabriel Heinze was adjudged to have handled inside the area, Gerrard coolly slotted home the resulting kick.
The second half started just as brightly, with Gerrard’s second arriving within minutes of the restart. Babel beat Ramos down the left and pulled the cross back for Gerrard to arrive and volley home at the Kop end to make it 3-0 with an emphatic finish to celebrate his 100th European appearance.
With the tie won Benitez had the luxury of resting Torres and Gerrard ahead of Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford. Youngster Jay Spearing came on and impressed, while Andrea Dossena added the fourth after excellent work from Babel allowed Mascherano to square the ball for the Italian to slot past Casillas for his first goal for the club.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Alonso (Lucas 60), Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (Spearing 74), Babel, Torres (Dossena 83).
Goals: Torres 16, Gerrard 28 pen, 47, Dossena 88
Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro (Van der Vaart 64), Pepe, Heinze, Robben (Marcelo 46), Lassana Diarra, Gago (Guti 77), Sneijder, Raul, Higuain.