As 2009 comes to an end and the decade draws to a close, I’ve picked out some of Liverpool’s greatest moments of the decade. I don’t think there can be any surprises in the top four choices coming from the Champions League run in 2005; it was certainly the highlight of the decade for any Liverpool fan:
1: Jerzy Dudek Penalty Save v Shevchenko (2005 Champions League Final)
Definitely the most nerve-racking moment I’ve ever felt watching a football match. The penalty shoot-out was always going to be a dramatic affair but after Jamie Carragher told Jerzy Dudek to copy Grobbelaar’s antics in the 84 final, the spectacle increased even more as the Polish goalkeeper proceeded to wave his hands, wobble his legs and dance side to side on the line. The save from Shevchenko in the shoot-out was a magnificent moment in English football as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ was complete. The comeback from 3-3 down and the miracle save in extra time from Dudek to prevent Milan retaking the lead made the victory very surreal and the fact that Liverpool had only finished fifth in the league that season made it an even more tremendous achievement.
2: Xabi Alonso Equaliser v Milan (2005 Champions League Final)
After being 3-0 deal at half-time, no one would have expected that 15 minutes into the second half, a Liverpool player would have the opportunity to get the team back on level terms. After Gerrard was pulled down in the box, Xabi Alonso was the man to step up to the plate to complete a wonderful comeback. My heart was in my mouth when Dida saved the original spot kick but when Alonso put in the rebound, he collapsed to the floor, like me and many other Liverpool supporters. Scarcely believable at the time but a wonderful moment to look back on.
3: Gerrard’s Goal v Olympiakos (2005 Champions League Group Stage)
1-0 down at half time at home to Olympiakos, Liverpool needed three goals to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. After Liverpool got two back in the second half, the stage was set for another great European night at Anfield. After N eil Mellor headed the ball down to Gerrard, the ball was only going in one place, and the goal sparked magnificent celebrations. The strike even saw former Everton striker Andy Gray shout ‘You Beauty’ at the top of his voice to show how special the goal was. Many Liverpool fans felt from that night, destiny had decided Liverpool would win the European Cup for the fifth time.
4: Luis Garcia ‘Ghost Goal’ v Chelsea (2005 Champions League Semi-Final)
Destiny may have again played a part in Luis Garcia’s goal in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final in 2005. After a goalless first leg at Stamford Bridge, the return leg at Anfield was always going to be a tight affair and it turned out that a controversial goal would be the deciding moment in the tie. Luis Garcia’s goal was given despite being cleared off the line by William Gallas and Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho protested after the match that the goal was a ‘ghost goal’ that should never have stood. In any case, in the lead up to the goal, Petr Cech fouled Milan Baros and if the goal was not given, it would have mostly likely led to a penalty and a sending off for the Czech goalkeeper. Garcia’s goal was another crucial stepping stone to Liverpool’s historic Champions League triumph.
5: Golden Goal v Alaves (2001 UEFA Cup Final)
Liverpool could never do things the easy way, even in a UEFA Cup final against Spanish minnows Alaves. Despite the fact that the Spanish side had many talented players, Liverpool should have killed the game off way before they did. Alaves recovered from 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 down, even equalising after Robbie Fowler had surely made the cup Liverpool’s in the final stage of the match. The final was dramatically settled on a golden goal in extra time though as an own goal by Delfi Geli from a Gary McAllister corner finally put pay to the Spanish resistance in the 117th minute. The dramatic game finished 5-4.
6: Gerrard Screamer v West Ham (2006 FA Cup Final)
Liverpool did not play very well during the FA Cup final in 2006. Conceding three goals to West Ham, the Hammers were holding on to a famous 3-2 victory, but once again, just like Olympiakos in 2005, Gerrard came up with the goods by scoring a dramatic late equaliser from outside the box to take the game into extra time. It was a crucial moment in the match as Liverpool won the match on penalties as goalkeeper Pepe Reina made some crucial saves in the resulting penalty shoot-out to bring the trophy back to Merseyside.
7: Owen Winner v Arsenal (2001 FA Cup Final)
The 2001 FA Cup final was another final that Liverpool did not perform to the best of their abilities. Arsenal dominated large swathes of the match and deservedly went ahead through Freddie Ljungberg in the second half. Striker Michael Owen had other ideas though and he scored two goals in the last 8 minutes to secure a 2-1 win for the Reds. The second goal especially demonstrated the striker’s ability as his pace, dribbling and finishing abilities all came to the fore as he stroked the ball past David Seaman.
8: Xabi Alonso Halfway Line Goal v Luton (2006 FA Cup Third Round)
A classic FA Cup tie as minnows Luton stood up to European giants Liverpool. The Hatters fought Liverpool all the way and they came from behind to take the lead against the Reds. Going into the last stages of the game, with Liverpool 4-3 up, Luton goalkeeper Marlon Beresford decided to come forward for a corner, the ball was however cleared and lay at the feet of midfielder Xabi Alonso. The funniest thing about the goal was the frustration that Steven Gerrard felt when Alonso opted to shoot rather than pass to him. Once the ball went into the empty net after the 70 yard strike, Gerrard applauded and congratulated his team-mate. Alonso would once again score from the half way line against Newcastle six months later.
9: McAllister Free Kick v Everton ( 2001 Premier League)
A dramatic game which had already seen four goals and 12 yellow cards, was made all the more special by McAllister’s free kick. In the 93rd minute of the game, the Scottish midfielder proceeded to take a strike at goal from 40 yards out. The shot went in, and rapturous celebrations ensued from the Liverpool end. A 3-2 win in the final minute, against your Merseyside rivals at their home ground: it doesn’t get that much better for a Liverpool fan.
10: Riise’s Piledriver v Man United (2001 Premier League)
A magnificent thunderbolt of a free kick by John Arne Riise against eternal rivals Manchester United. The strike with his rocket of a left boot, in a 3-1 victory, nearly broke the cross bar in two as he thundered the ball into the top corner beyond French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez.