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From Garcia’s ‘Ghost Goal’ to Barca comeback – Liverpool’s 5 Champions League semi-finals

Liverpool are about to take part in their sixth Champions League semi-final, but how did they fare in the previous five?

Jurgen Klopp‘s men host Villarreal at Anfield on Wednesday evening, as the semi-finals get underway.

It would be a third final in the competition in five years if Liverpool can get the job done, in what is a glorious period in the club’s history.

The Reds have been in five Champions League semis before – here’s a look back at how they got on in those ties.

 

Chelsea (2004/05)

Luis Garcia, 'ghost goal' vs Chelsea, 2005 (PA Media)

Has it ever got any sweeter than this?

Chelsea strutted into their semi-final tie as the soon-to-be-crowned Premier League champions in 2005, with Jose Mourinho’s arrogance rubbing off on his players.

Liverpool battled their way to an ugly 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, setting up one of the all-time great Anfield occasions.

Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ gave the Reds an early lead – the noise after the goal was awarded could be unrivalled to this day – before 85 minutes of unbearable tension.

Rafa Benitez’s men defended for their lives, barely getting out of their own half, with chances continuing to come for Chelsea.

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s stoppage-time miss remains almost impossible to watch – had that gone in, the level of pain doesn’t even bear thinking about.

As it was, Liverpool clung on by the skin of their teeth, booking a place in Istanbul for a nice, low-key final against AC Milan!

 

Chelsea (2006/07)

Liverpool's Dirk Kuyt (center), John Arne Riise and Jose Reina (left) celebrate after winning the match on penalties

Two years later, Liverpool and Chelsea were at it again.

Many felt that revenge was on the cards, and when Joe Cole’s strike settled matters in west London, the Reds had it all to do.

Another special Anfield night saw Benitez’s men prevail once more, however, as Daniel Agger’s brilliantly worked effort gave the hosts a half-time lead.

There were near-misses for both teams in both normal time and extra-time – Dirk Kuyt thought he had won it, but the offside flag went up – and penalties were needed to decide the victor.

Kuyt didn’t have to wait long to be the hero – as he so often was in big games – firing home the winning spot-kick after Arjen Robben and Geremi had both been denied by Pepe Reina.

Chelsea tears ensued once again…

 

Chelsea (2007/08)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, February 10, 2008: Liverpool's captain Steven Gerrard MBE and Chelsea's Frank Lampard during the Premiership match at Stamford Bridge. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was a tough one to take.

Incredibly, Liverpool faced Chelsea in a Champions League semi-final for the third time in four seasons, but this time they experienced the agony of defeat.

It was all going so swimmingly in the first leg, with Kuyt’s opener looking like ensuring a 1-0 win and no away goal conceded.

Then the worst moment of John Arne Riise’s Liverpool career occurred, as he inadvertently steered a last-gasp header into his own net.

You felt the wind come out of the Reds and their supporters’ sails and there was almost a sense of inevitability about what would happen next.

Chelsea ended up winning 3-2 after extra-time at Stamford Bridge, lining up a final with Man United that would have been mouthwatering if Liverpool had been involved instead.

 

Roma (2017/18)

ROME, ITALY - Wednesday, May 2, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Manes celebrates scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between AS Roma and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Olimpico. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It was a long decade before Liverpool next experienced a Champions League semi-final, with the Klopp era now in full swing.

The Reds were favourites to get the better of Roma over two legs and it was a tie that had drama and brilliance.

In a stunning first leg, Liverpool blitzed the Serie A side, racing into a 5-0 lead midway through the second half, with a certain Alisson powerless to stop them.

A couple of late goals from Roma just about kept the tie alive, though, allowing just a hint of doubt to creep in.

In truth, the 4-2 defeat in Rome was far less nerve-wracking than it looked, but Klopp’s men certainly could have made life easier for themselves.

It was then on to Kyiv and heartbreak at the hands of Real Madrid.

 

Barcelona (2018/19)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, May 7, 2019: Liverpool's Divock Origi celebrates scoring the fourth goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

What happened in the semi-final showdown with Barcelona three years ago still feels scarcely believable, as Liverpool produced a comeback every bit as impressive as Istanbul.

The Reds lost 3-0 at the Camp Nou, but the scoreline was criminally unjust, with Klopp’s side superb for much of the game and being undone by some Lionel Messi magic.

With Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino both out of the second leg, and with Messi, Luis Suarez et al expected to bag an away goal, it seemed incomprehensible that Liverpool could progress, even by their standards.

Instead, a spellbinding night unfolded, as Divock Origi opened the scoring and a quickfire Gini Wijnaldum double brought the tie level.

It was then left to Trent Alexander-Arnold to swing in an iconic corner and Origi to do the rest, sealing the greatest victory Anfield has ever witnessed.

If that night gets beaten, god only knows the havoc we will be watching!

Thankfully, Liverpool got the job done in the final that time, seeing off Tottenham and sealing European Cup No. 6.

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