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Istanbul 2005: Looking back at famous Liverpool v Milan Champions League final

The Ataturk Stadium in Istanbul, the venue of the 2023 Champions League final between Manchester City and Inter Milan, previously played host to arguably the greatest final in the competition’s history in 2005.

Liverpool’s recovery from a three-goal deficit against AC Milan has been hailed as the 'Miracle of Istanbul' and gave the Reds their fifth success in the competition. 

This is the story of that memorable night 18 years ago:

Milan fancied to get the job done

Liverpool had battled their way to the final after finishing runners-up to Monaco in their group and then beating Bayer Leverkusen, Juventus and Chelsea in the knockout rounds. 

Their success against the London side was controversial as the only goal in the two legs of the semi-final came from a Luis Garcia effort that Chelsea vehemently denied had crossed the line. 

But Anfield celebrated wildly and the Reds reached their first final since 1985 and their sixth in total.

Milan, meanwhile, made everyone sit up and listen when they topped a group that contained Barcelona. Carlo Ancelotti’s side then beat Manchester United, city rivals Inter and PSV Eindhoven to book their date in Turkey. 

Rossoneri make the dream start

The game could not have started worse for Rafa Benitez’s side when his team conceded a free-kick on the right. 

The ball was crossed by Andrea Pirlo and veteran defender Paolo Maldini volleyed home to become the oldest goalscorer in a Champions League final at the age of 36.

Liverpool created some chances but were forced into a change when Harry Kewell, who had been a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, suffered a groin injury and was replaced by Vladimir Scimer. 

But Andrei Shevcheko had already had a Milan goal disallowed before the Italian side doubled their advantage five minutes before the break. 

Kaka led a swift break after Liverpool had an appeal for a penalty for handball against Alessandro Nesta turned down, playing the ball to Shevchenko who presented the opportunity for Hernan Crespo to net from close range. 

Then shortly before the break, the Argentinian forward was put through on goal and coolly chipped the ball over the advancing Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek to leave the Reds with a mountain to climb. 

Gerrard instigates the Reds comeback

Benitez made a tactical switch before the second half by bringing on Germany international Dietmar Hamann to strengthen his midfield and sacrificing right-back Steve Finnan. 

The substitution allowed talismanic leader Steven Gerrard more freedom and the benefits were almost immediate. The skipper scored with a header from a John Arne Riise cross that looped past Dida in the Milan goal and this galvanised the Premier League giants. 

Two minutes later they were right back in it when Smicer fired into the corner from the edge of the box, and they were then presented with a golden opportunity to draw level when Gerrard was fouled by Gennaro Gattuso and a penalty was awarded. 

Xabi Alonso saw his effort saved but the Spaniard was able to react first to the rebound and fired an equaliser into the roof of the net to complete the remarkable and unlikely comeback.

Both teams had chances to win within 90 minutes but the game went to extra-time. 

Extra-time and penalties

Fatigue inevitably began to set in during the extra 30 minutes and it was Milan who had the best chance to claim the trophy before penalties. 

Dudek had stopped a Shevchenko effort but the ball fell to the Ukrainian striker just feet from the goal. He seemed destined to score what would have been the winning goal with just three minutes of extra-time remaining, but somehow the Polish goalkeeper reacted well enough to push his effort over the bar. 

Milan were given the opportunity to score the first penalty of the shootout with Serginho taking the initial kick, but with Dudek dancing on the goal line, the Brazilian fired the ball over the crossbar. 

Hamann went first for Liverpool and converted to give the Reds an important lead, which Dudek was able to preserve as he dived to his right to push away Pirlo's effort. 

Substitutes Djibril Cisse and Jon Dahl Tomasson netted their kicks but Dida gave Milan a lifeline when he was able to save from Riise. 

Kaka tied Milan level but Smicer fired Liverpool into a 3-2 lead, so that meant Shevchenko, who had scored the winning penalty against Juventus in the final two years earlier, had to score to keep Milan in the tie. 

He fired his effort down the middle of the goal but as Dudek dived to his right, he was able to divert the ball away with his left hand to complete the most remarkable comeback in Champions League final history.

Return to Turkey has lot to live up to

This year's final has plenty to live up to in the same stadium as Man City go in search of their first European Cup triumph and a historic treble, while Inter are aiming to be named kings of the continent for the fourth time in their history and first since 2010.

Pep Guardiola's side are to 2/9 to Lift The Trophy, while the Italian outfit are 10/3.

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