In anticipation of Sunday’s big clash at Stamford Bridge, SportsnewsIreland take a look back at some of the most memorable encounters between two of the biggest clubs in English football; Chelsea and Liverpool.
Last time out at Stamford Bridge, back in February 2011, Liverpool came away 1-0 victors. A game remembered more for the appearance Fernando Torres more than its quality on the pitch, the £50m January signing failed to get one over on his old club’s defence before being substituted on his debut. Portuguese Midfielder Raul Meireles, likes Torres now a blue, struck the only goal of the game to the delight of the travelling fans. However while this game sticks in the mind of fans more for the personnel involved rather than the quality, there has been plenty of recent classic’s between the two sides.
Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool (Barclays Premier League, May 2003)
Danish winger Jesper Gronkjaer scored what will forever be hailed as one of the most important goals in Chelsea’s entire history. His winning goal, after setting up defender Marcel Desailly for the equaliser, ensured Chelsea’s entry into the Champions League for the very first time.
Liverpool had made the perfect start when poor marking by Petit allowed Sami Hyypia to head in Danny Murphy’s free-kick. But Chelsea’s nerves were settled when they responded with two goals in quarter of an hour thanks to poor Liverpool defending.
With the Champions League in view, it was now going to be easier to keep key players like William Gallas, Emmanuel Petit, John Terry and Gianfranco Zola. During the close season the club were bought by an unknown Russian billionaire called Roman Abramovich. Chelsea Football club would never be the same again.
Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (champions league semi-final, May 2005)
It’s been in the Champions League where the fireworks have really gone off between these two great sides. And you can take your pick from four knockout rumbles. The 2007 semi, as Rafa Benítez watched his side win on penalties. The 2008 semi, a tale of two own goals, the first an own goal by John Arne Riise at the end of the first leg, the second Benítez’s unwise taunting of Didier Drogba ahead of a second leg the striker, accused of diving by the Spaniard, would dominate.
And there’s the 2005 semi, It had pretty much everything: Luís García’s phantom goal, which gave Liverpool a dubious lead, a second-half barrage from Chelsea; staunch defending from the home side; an astonishing last-gasp miss at close range from Eidur Gudjohnsen, just how Eidur did miss such a great chance to snatch it for Chelsea at the death will always amaze me; add to that a febrile atmosphere agreed by most who experienced it as being the most intense in English football for many a year.
Come the final whistle, it was Liverpool who were in the final of the 2005 Champions League. Final word on the match goes to shrinking violet Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho…”The best team lost”.
Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, (Champions league quarter final, 2009)
Continuing with the Champions league theme, this 2009 quarter-final was the epitome of two teams who never gave up until the final whistle was blown.
Even when the score was 4-4 and Liverpool had to score 2 goals to try to win it with just a few minutes left, the reds still pushed forward with an insane sense of belief that they could pull it off.
Amid the chaos, mistakes aplenty were made and eight goals were scored. The kind of chaos that proved torturous for the spectators and almost unwatchable for the suspended John Terry and the injured Steven Gerrard. This was a tie as memorable for the madness as the moments of pure brilliance.
Chelsea were 3-1 ahead from the first leg at Anfield, a commanding lead you would have thought. However, back on home turf for the return leg, the Blues put fans’ nerves through the shredder – allowing Liverpool a 2-0 lead by half time and then after going ahead on the night, coming within a single goal of defeat before Frank Lampard eventually calmed it down.
It took until the 88th minute before the stand-in skipper restored a two-goal advantage in one of the most open and amazing games in Champions League history.
There’s unlikely to be a spectacle quite like it again anytime soon. Well, unless Fernando Torres manages to hit a hat-trick on Sunday, perhaps.