Liverpool need to summon the spirit of Istanbul - News & Comment - Football - The Independent

Liverpool need to summon the spirit of Istanbul

Sam Wallace recalls that night against Milan when Benitez's men showed how to recover a lost cause

The task: recover from 3-0 down at half-time. The result: Liverpool 3 Milan 3 (Liverpool win 3-2 on penalties), 25 May 2005, Champions League final, Istanbul.

Steven Gerrard came back into the dressing room at half-time "enraged" by his own performance and vowing to avenge "that smirk" on the face of Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso. Jamie Carragher was plagued by the thought of "going home a laughing stock". Outside, in the Liverpool end of the Ataturk stadium "You'll Never Walk Alone" was sung as a dirge rather than a celebration.

Rafael Benitez had picked a risky team: Harry Kewell up front with Milan Baros, Gerrard back in centre-midfield alongside Xabi Alonso and, critically, no Dietmar Hamann. In his autobiography, Carragher remembers Gerrard's voice "quivering with disbelief" when he told him earlier in the week that Kewell would be starting as a striker.

The result was a first-half disaster. Without Hamann, Kaka ran the centre of midfield. Kewell came off after 23 minutes with a torn muscle in his groin. Paolo Maldini scored in the first minute and by half-time Hernan Crespo had added two more. In the dressing room, Benitez, then not having mastered English, tried to re-organise and galvanise his players.

The accounts of how Benitez did it – from Gerrard and Carragher – vary on the details but both agree the Liverpool manager thought quickly on his feet. He originally wanted to replace Djimi Traoré with Hamann but an injury to Steve Finnan meant Traoré stayed on. It was also Benitez's intention to bring on Djibril Cissé at half-time – until someone pointed out that would mean Liverpool fielding 12 men.

Carragher remembers the coach Alex Miller telling the players as they left the dressing room to score one for the fans. "That was the mindset we had," Carragher said, "Get one and pride might be restored." What happened after that, he reflected, was that Liverpool "entered the Twilight Zone".

In that miraculous second half in which Gerrard, Alonso and Vladimir Smicer brought the score level there are details often overlooked. Jerzy Dudek (pictured) made crucial saves at the start of the half just as in extra-time he saved Andrei Shevchenko's header from six yards.

"Looking back on the moments after Jerzy's save [from Shevchenko's final penalty] is like trying to recall pieces of a dream," was Gerrard's lyrical take on the defining moment of the penalty shoot-out that won Liverpool their fifth European Cup.

On the flight home, the players passed the trophy down the plane to family and friends. At the back, I sat next to Pako Ayesteran, then Benitez's assistant, who turned down the offers of champagne and opened his laptop. What the hell was he doing? "Planning the pre-season training," he said. The only people who did not seem able to compute winning in such a chaotic style was the master-strategist Benitez and his team of assistants.

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week