Back in 2008/09, Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool enjoyed one of their most memorable Champions League victories in history, dispatching of Real Madrid in their last-16 clash. Henry Jackson looks back at that incredible night at Anfield.
Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid
10th March 2009
Liverpool took a 1-0 lead to Anfield for the second-leg of this Champions League last-16 tie in March 2009, with Yossi Benayoun’s priceless late header the difference between the two sides at Santiago Bernabeu.
Fernando Torres, arguably the world’s most devastating striker at the time, returned to the side having missed the first-leg through injury, while the Reds’ imperious midfield trio of Javier Mascherano, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard all started proceedings.
Juande Ramos’ Real Madrid side had plenty of quality throughout their side, whether it be Iker Casillas, Fabio Cannavaro and Sergio Ramos at the back or Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Raul in attack. Former Reds hero Jerzy Dudek was on the bench for the visitors.
Rafa Benitez’s side were much-fancied to progress- the Spaniard had turned them into one of Europe’s most formidable sides- but the tie was still very much alive.
A fervent Anfield crowd was at its unrivalled best, and they played a big part in Liverpool’s blistering start. The passing was incisive and inventive, and Benitez’s men were producing some absolutely wonderful stuff.
A magical turn by Torres on Cannavaro early on eventually saw the Spaniard denied by his international teammate Iker Casillas, and Madrid’s legendary goalkeeper then made a stunning save from Mascherano from the resulting corner.
Liverpool finally took a deserved after 16 minutes, and it was inevitable that Torres, the former Atletico Madrid hero, got the goal. ‘El Nino’ exchanged passes with Dirk Kuyt, having wrestled himself away from Pepe, before firing into the Anfield Road net.
12 minutes later the lead was doubled. Former Manchester United defender Gabriel Heinze was penalised for handball in the penalty area, and Gerrard sent Casillas the wrong way to put the home faithful in dreamland. The tie was effectively over as a contest.
Los Blancos barely threatened at any point during the opening 45 minutes, but when they did Pepe Reina was on-hand to thwart Robben and Gonzalo Higuain.
Liverpool’s dominance continued after the break, and Gerrard brilliantly made it 3-0 in front of the Kop after 47 minutes. Good work from Ryan Babel saw his cross find the skipper, who caressed a wonderful half-volley past Casillas. It was Gerrard’s 100th appearance in Europe, and was one of his finest displays in a Reds shirt.
A rampant Reds side were demolishing the world’s most powerful club, and if it hadn’t been for an outstanding individual performance by Casillas, it is no exaggeration to say Benitez’s men could have scored six or seven.
The icing on the cake was delivered by Andrea Dossena, who finished off a typically flowing move with just two minutes remaining (four days later the Italian would also score late on to secure an epic 4-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford).
It had been an unbelievable performance, and one that reverberated across Europe. The Reds were through to the quarter-finals, where they were knocked out by Chelsea following a titanic second-leg showdown at Stamford Bridge.
Nothing could be taken away from that amazing night against the 10-time Champions League winners though. What are the odds of the same thing happening on Wednesday night? Just imagine……
Real Madrid's biggest UEFA Champions League defeat was against Liverpool 4-0 (5-0 agg). pic.twitter.com/KQ9EazR2gT
— BlancoStats (@BlancoStats) October 18, 2014
Goals: Torres 16, Gerrard pen 28 & 47, Dossena 88.
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Skrtel, Carragher, Aurelio, Alonso (Lucas 60), Mascherano, Kuyt, Gerrard (Spearing 74), Babel, Torres (Dossena 83).
Subs not used: Cavalieri, Hyypia, Ngog, Kelly.
Real Madrid: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro (Van der Vaart 64), Pepe, Heinze, Robben (Marcelo 46), Lassana Diarra, Gago (Guti 77), Sneijder, Raul, Higuain.
Subs not used: Dudek, Saviola, Metzelder, Miguel Torres.
Let us know your memories from that incredible night in the comments section below. Where were you watching?