To show you just how good football is, I’m going to concentrate on describing just one game. The 2005 Champions League Final to be exact.
25th May in Istanbul, Ataturk Stadium.
Liverpool F.C vs. AC Milan
AC Milan were thought by most to be the best team in the world, by quite a margin. Liverpool were the underdogs, they had a pretty rough time qualifying for the final, but they did qualify after a controversial goal against Chelsea F.C. in the semi-final.
The game began in the usual manner, then Milan’s captain, Paolo Maldini, scored a goal within the first minute of the game. Liverpool were shaken by this very early goal, and it showed. Then, Hernan Crespo scored in the 39th minute, and then again in the 44th minute. A minute later, the first half of the game came to an end. It looked like it was all over for Liverpool. There was seemingly no way back, and many believed that Milan could go on to score a couple more goals.
Nobody knows exactly what Liverpool’s manager, Rafa Benitez, said during halftime, but whatever he said worked perfectly, and set the stage for the greatest sporting comeback in history.
Liverpool changed a few players, and changed their formation into more midfield-based one. Dietmar Hamann was asked to man-mark the Milanese star players Kaka and Pirlo. Within ten minutes of the second half, Steven Gerrard, Liverpool’s captain, scored a goal with his head. This goal urged the Liverpool fans on and they sang and bounced their hearts out. Two minutes after Gerrard’s goal, Vladimir Smicer took a shot from a long way out and it went in! Two goals in two minutes.
Liverpool’s equalizing goal came from a penalty kick. Steven Gerrard was fouled inside the penalty area and earned Liverpool’s chance at a third goal. Spaniard, Xabi Alonso, took the penalty. He kicked it to the bottom right, but Milan’s goalkeeper saved it, Alonso then ran up to the loose ball and fired it into the top of the goal. Three goals in six minutes for Liverpool! Now they were on equal terms with Milan. GAME ON!
The rest of the game was played out, and neither team scored another goal. It went into extra time, and still neither team scored a goal, although Liverpool’s goalkeeper, Jerzy Dudek, pulled off a miraculous double-save to deny Andriy Shevchenko(Milan’s best player). The game would be decided on penalties. Yes, the dreaded penalty shootout.
The penalty shootout, and the whole game, came down to Andriy Shevchenko. It was match-point, and Shevchenko HAD to score, or else Liverpool would be European champions.
He took his shot, but Dudek managed to get his left hand in the way, and Liverpool won their 5th Champions League title, after a 21 year gap since their last victory.
I’m not even a Liverpool fan. I don’t support Liverpool, but I did that night!