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Cup treble, Benitez, Istanbul, Gerrard & Carragher – Liverpool FC in the 2000s

Taking in the highs and lows of Liverpool Football Club’s history with our photo special, we head into the 2000s, and the glory of Istanbul.

With Gerard Houllier in charge and the Frenchman prompting a change in values, Liverpool were primed to head into a period of stability in the 2000s—though it proved to be a decade of ups and downs.

Liverpool's Michael Owen (left) celebrates his second goal during today's FA Cup Final against Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Picture by: Tom Hevezi / PA Archive/Press Association Images

It was Michael Owen who helped propel Liverpool to one of the biggest successes of Houllier’s reign, with two late goals in the Reds’ 2-1 win over Arsenal in the FA Cup final in 2001.

Liverpool team celebrate after winning the UEFA cup on the Golden Goal rule against CD Alaves in the UEFA Cup Final at the Westfalen Stadium, Dortmund. (Picture by: David Davies / PA Archive/Press Association Images)

That triumph was part of an incredible treble-winning campaign in 2000/01, completed with a 5-4 extra-time victory over Alaves in the UEFA Cup final in Dortmund.

MONACO, FRANCE - Friday, August 24, 2001: Liverpool's Gary McAllister (left), Robbie Fowler (centre) and Jamie Carragher (right) with the UEFA Super Cup trophy after beating Bayern Munich 3-2 at the Stade Louis II in Monaco. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

One of the surprise key factors behind Liverpool’s success that season was veteran midfielder Gary McAllister, with the Scotland international still one of the club’s most influential signings since the turn of the century.

CARDIFF, WALES - Sunday, March 2, 2003: Liverpool's goalscorers Michael Owen (l) and Steven Gerrard celebrate beating Manchester United 2-0 during the Football League Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Houllier’s last trophy as Liverpool manager came in 2003, when goals from Owen and Steven Gerrard sealed a priceless 2-0 win over Man United in the League Cup final.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - WEDNESDAY JUNE 16 2004: Rafael Benitez poses for a photograph with the famous 'This is Anfield' sign in the tunnel at Anfield as he is unveiled as Liverpool FC's new manager. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Houllier stepped down from his role in 2004, to be replaced by promising former Valencia manager Rafa Benitez.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - WEDNESDAY AUGUST 25th 2004: Liverpool's manager Rafael Benitez poses with his two new Spanish signings Luis Garcia (l) and Xabi Alonso (r) at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Just as Houllier had done five years previous, Benitez quickly prompted an influx of continental talent, with fellow Spanish duo Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia among those to arrive shortly after.

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - SATURDAY FEBRUARY 12th 2005: Liverpool's Jamie Carragher lines-up before the Premiership match against Birmingham City at St. Andrews (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Benitez did retain much of Liverpool’s core, however, with long-serving centre-back Jamie Carragher at the heart of this, serving alongside Sami Hyypia.

And Gerrard, despite his notoriously cold relationship with Benitez, gave Liverpool their heartbeat in midfield, having taken over from Hyypia as captain in 2003.

It was Gerrard who inspired a dramatic victory over Olympiakos in the Champions League in 2004, with his late, late half-volley one of the best goals in Liverpool’s long and storied history.

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - WEDNESDAY, MAY 25th, 2005: Liverpool's Steven Gerrard lifts the European Cup after beating AC Milan on penalties during the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - THURSDAY, MAY 26th, 2005: Liverpool players parade the European Champions Cup on on open-top bus tour of Liverpool in front of 500,000 fans after beating AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium, Istanbul. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool made it all the way to the Champions League final in Benitez’s first season in charge, and what followed at Istanbul that day has cemented his Reds squad in history.

Rafa emulated Joe Fagan in winning the European Cup in his first season in charge of the club.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, February 23, 2008: Liverpool's goalkeeper Jose Pepe Reina in action against Middlesbrough during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

After that sensational comeback victory over AC Milan, however, Benitez didn’t rest on his laurels, with young Spanish goalkeeper Pepe Reina among those to be brought in over the following summer.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20th, 2006: Liverpool's Xabi Alonso celebrates amazing goal against Newcastle United with his team-mates during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Alonso continued to thrive alongside Gerrard in Benitez’s midfield, and scored a remarkable goal from the halfway line in a 2-0 win over Newcastle United in the Premier League in 2006.

Athens, Greece - Wednesday, May 23, 2007: AC Milan's Kaka celebrates as Liverpool's Harry Kewell and Steven Gerrard look dejected afte the UEFA Champions League Final at the OACA Spyro Louis Olympic Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

That season saw Liverpool reached their second Champions League final under Benitez, but this time Milan took the trophy home from Athens, with the Reds losing 2-1 despite a late effort from Dirk Kuyt.

Liverpool, England - Sunday, August 19, 2007: Liverpool's Fernando Torres celebrates scoring the opening goal against Chelsea during the Premiership match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Needing an injection of quality into attack in 2007, Benitez pushed for the signing of Spanish hotshot Fernando Torres from Atletico Madrid—one of the club’s finest acquisitions in decades.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 10, 2009: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates scoring the third goal, his second, against Real Madrid during the UEFA Champions League First Knockout Round 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was the partnership of Gerrard and Torres that helped Liverpool towards near-glory in 2008/09, with a 4-0 victory over Real Madrid at Anfield in the Champions League proof of their dominance.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, March 14, 2009: Liverpool's magnificent captain Steven Gerrard MBE celebrates scoring his side's second goal, from the penalty spot, to put his side 2-1 up against Manchester United with team-mate Fernando Torres during the Premiership match at Old Trafford. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

And four days later, they were at it again, with both Gerrard and Torres scoring in a 4-1 win over United at Old Trafford; though Alex Ferguson’s side eventually pipped the Reds to the title.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 25, 2010: Liverpool's supporters on the Spion Kop display a banner reading "Gilett & Hicks You've Done Enough Damage" before the Premiership match at against Sunderland Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This weighed heavily over Benitez as he fought a losing battle with the club’s miserly owners, Tom Hicks and George Gillett, and the decade ended with protests ringing out around Anfield.

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