Football’s Most Incredible Moments: Top 10

Football’s Most Incredible Moments: Top 10

4. The miracle of Istanbul.

Liverpool were contesting their first European Cup final in twenty years as they faced red hot favorites AC Milan in the 2005 final held at the Ataturk Stadium in Turkey.

Milan boasted a formidable starting line up that was crammed with international class and pedigree, captained by the ageless Paolo Maldini. It seemed that this wealth of experience struck fear deep into the heart of the Liverpool players in a disastrous first half display that saw Kaka and Hernan Crespo tear them to shreds. It was a ruthless forty five minute salvo that seemed to all but consign Liverpool’s hopes of a fifth European Cup to the scrapheap, trailing 3-0 at the interval.

This campaign had seen Liverpool’s never say die spirit time and again however, and this time it was needed in abundance against such a well oiled machine like AC Milan.

The introduction of Dietmar Hamman by manager Rafael Benitez was designed to stop kaka and his cohorts overrunning the midfield, and it worked almost instantaneously as Liverpool snatched a precious goal through captain fantastic Steven Gerrard in the 52nd minute. Eight minutes later the most unlikeliest of resurrections was complete with goals from Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso that sent shockwaves through the Milan dug out and sent Liverpool into the ascendency in an incredible topsy turvy final.

Roared on by their fanatical fanbase, Liverpool dragged AC Milan unexpectedly into extra time and had goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek to thank for a miraculous save from six yards at the feet of the deadly Andriy Shevchenko, taking the match to a gut wrenching penalty shoot out.

As the drama unfolded it was Dudek who would play a decisive role in the outcome, as his spaghetti legs antics during the shootout seemed to give him the psychological edge over his opponents. Eventually it would be that man Shevchenko once again that stood between Liverpool and a fairytale comeback victory.

Placing the resulting spot kick down the centre of the goal, Dudek went the wrong way but managed to claw it away with his trailing hand, sealing a historic fifth European Cup for the club in a performance that epitomized heart, desire, and a never say die attitude.

It is regarded as one of the greatest finals in the competitions lineage and it was coined the miracle of Istanbul shortly thereafter.

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