'After the final whistle I broke down crying'
Five protagonists recall the drama and controversy from Chelsea's many recent epic visits to Liverpool
Saturday 01 May 2010
Ever since Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea in 2003, the brash Londoners have enjoyed an intense rivalry with Liverpool, historically the most successful club in England.
Anfield has more often than not provided the backdrop to their battles, where the spoils have been shared in the past seven years. In 11 meetings at Liverpool's famous ground, each team has won four times, with three draws. Four of the best games are remembered here, by some of the men who were intimately involved.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 2
Premier League, 17 August 2003
It was the first game of the new season after Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea. It was quite a different atmosphere because a lot of new players like Juan Sebastien Veron and Damien Duff had come in and established people like me and Eidur Gudjohnsen were told by manager Claudio Ranieri that we now had to fight for our positions. In fact we were both made aware that we could leave if we wanted
I was on the bench at Anfield and it made me even more determined to show him I was better than the guys he had bought. I came off the bench and I remember getting the ball at my feet around the box, with Jamie Carragher behind me. I managed to wriggle myself around his left leg and got a shot away through his legs and into the corner to clinch a 2-1 win.
You could see from my celebration what it meant to me. After the game Abramovich came into the dressing room and just shook our hands. His English wasn't that good so he didn't say anything.
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0
Champions League semi-final second leg (1-0 on aggregate), 3 May 2005
To our supporters Chelsea as a football club characterised everything they despised. Their approach seemed as much about belittling everyone else as promoting themselves. They represented the opposite of all I believed in.
Nothing I had experienced compared to the evening of 3 May 2005. The fans turned up believing we were going to win. Now we felt it too, and the Chelsea players couldn't avoid being affected by the surge of absolute conviction coming from the stands.
Luis Garcia scored what became known as "The Phantom Goal"; his tame shot dawdled before deciding to cross the goal-line, sucked in by the inhalations of 12,000 Kopites. There was no injustice in our victory. Chelsea had 180 minutes plus six minutes' injury time to score a single goal. They failed. As one of the banners that night claimed, we had genuinely shown there are some things money can't buy.
(from 'Carra: My Autobiography')
We were all so confident because the Premiership table told us we were so much better than them. The manager put the points difference between the two teams up on the board. It was there in big red ink, the first thing we saw as we walked in. "No way we will lose this game tonight," I thought.
When the teams walked up on to the pitch, I have never heard anything like it before, and I don't think I ever will again.
I haven't been able to bring myself to watch any of the game again. When I saw the clock going to 88 minutes, my eyes started filling up with tears. When I heard the final whistle I broke down. I was crying. People were saying to me that it wasn't our year and that our chance would come again but I was in bits. That was the lowest I have ever felt in football.
(from 'My Winning Season')
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 0
Champions League semi-final second leg (1-1 on aggregate, Liverpool won 4-1 on penalties), 1 May 2007
Stamford Bridge had seemed like a Premier League game, at Anfield that night you knew you were in a Champions League semi-final. A big game – and our fans expected us to deliver.
When Daniel Agger scored after 22 minutes to level the score on aggregate, our fans raised the roof. During the penalty shoot-out Pepe [Reina] in goal was the star. In the stands the fans were in heaven, and later, in the dressing room, we celebrated loud and long. George Gillett came in and immediately got drenched in champagne by Robbie [Fowler]. Our new American owner stood there with his nice suit wet through, his glasses all steamed up and you could tell he was absolutely loving it.
(from 'Walking Tall: My Story')
Liverpool 1 Chelsea 3
Champions League quarter-final, first leg, 8 April 2009 (Chelsea won 7-5 on agg)
I was very disappointed we didn't score more. No, seriously, to get three goals was incredible. To play Liverpool at Anfield is always a hard job, so the result was unexpected, to be honest. But it was well deserved.
Whenever this team had a set-back, it always reacted. We started sloppily, but we knew we could score. That confidence, even at 1-0 down, was in the team. And it was good to see the team pushing on even when we equalised.
We felt we could have some success attacking at corners with the way they use their zonal marking. We managed some real benefits from that. Michael Essien was the key for us in midfield. He did not only follow Steven Gerrard everywhere, but was able to be the starting point to many of our attacks.
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