ON THIS DAY IN 2004: Steven Gerrard’s late Champions League magic stuns Olympiakos

8 December 2016

It is exactly 12 years to the day since Liverpool beat Olympiakos 3-1 in the Champions League—a truly pivotal evening in Reds history.


December 8, 2004 was one of those days that will live with Reds supporters forever.

Liverpool hosted Olympiakos in their final Champions League group game, knowing either a 1-0 win or a victory by a two-goal margin would send Rafa Benitez’s side into the knockout stages.

It was far from a vintage Reds team that season, and seven points from five games, in group also containing Monaco, Olympiakos and Deportivo, was proof of that.

Anfield was expectant, however, on a night that brought back memories of Liverpool’s glory days in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.

The first half turned into a nightmare, as the Reds failed to breach a stubborn Olympiakos rearguard, and Brazilian legend Rivaldo’s free-kick found a way past Chris Kirkland in the 26th minute.

Liverpool needed three goals without reply in the second half.

Florent Sinama Pongolle gave Benitez’s men fresh hope with a clinical finish shortly after the restart, and they huffed and puffed as the closing stages approached.

Neil Mellor pounced from close range with nine minutes left on the clock, setting up one of the dramatic finales in Liverpool’s history.

With 86 minutes played, Mellor’s knock-down header was met in stunning fashion by Steven Gerrard, who fired his half-volley into the Kop net from 25 yards.

The celebrations inside Anfield were bordering on unrivalled, and the Reds held out to reach the last 16 of Europe’s greatest club competition.

We all know exactly what happened next, with Liverpool going on to win a fifth European Cup, having seen of Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus, Chelsea and AC Milan in a jaw-dropping final.

You can’t help but wonder how different things may have been under Benitez if Gerrard hadn’t saved the day 12 years ago.

It was a moment that signalled the start of the legendary midfielder becoming one of the best players on the planet.

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