Today is the 18th anniversary of the historic turnaround in the Champions League final, in which Liverpool turned around a three-goal deficit to win the Champions League trophy against favourites Milan. Vladimir Smicer starred, who gave his team hope with a beautiful goal and decided the fate of the match with his last kick for Liverpool.
18 years since the Istanbul LM final, which made history in the competition
It was 2005 and Vladimir Smicer was kicking off his last season at Liverpool. His six-year stint at Anfield was over and the Czech international was heading to France, where he signed for Girondins Bordeaux.
Liverpool finished the Premier League season in fifth place, guaranteeing participation in the Champions League preliminary round. However, it was a different story on the European stage.
Rafa Benitez’s team admittedly advanced from the Champions League group stage to second place behind Monaco. But his team ran like clockwork in the knockout phase and reached the final of the competition played at the Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.
On 25 May 2005, they faced AC Milan, who were the favourites for this match and wanted to make amends after their unsuccessful quest for the Italian title against their island rivals.
Vladimir Smicer left a huge mark on the team
Although the final of the most prestigious club competition had a Czech footprint, few could have imagined that it would be so evident in the competition itself. Although Milan Baroš entered the match from the start, it was not he who dramatically influenced the course of the entire competition.
It was only an injury to Harry Kewell that sent Vladimir Šmicer off the bench and onto the pitch in the 23rd minute. It was the last game for Liverpool and the Czech international, who celebrated his 32nd birthday the day before the final, played a great game.
However, it should be noted that his night was not easy. Liverpool were trailing after just 50 seconds from the start of the game after a Maldini header. And when Crespo scored twice before the end of the first half, it looked a done deal.
But Liverpool hadn’t had the last word that night and coach Benitez’s chess moves at half-time bore the desired fruit. A frantic six minutes went down in the history of the competition in bold letters and Liverpool managed to equalise after a quarter of an hour of the second act.
He scored a beautiful goal and the winning penalty to win the Eared Cup
It is worth mentioning especially the goal of Vladimir Šmicer, who with a beautiful shot from outside the box reduced the difference to a single goal. He gave his team the necessary confidence to make a historic turnaround, but his moment that night was still to come.
The match went to penalty kicks after a goalless extra time. The star and hero of the match was Liverpool’s Polish goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek, who kept out the experienced Milan players and gave his teammates the confidence they needed with three penalty saves.
Also leaving an indelible mark was Vladimir Smicer, who capped a career night when the coaches chose him for the penultimate penalty. The Czech midfielder took his last kick for Liverpool and it was his goal that marked his team’s winning goal.
Vladimír Šmicer, together with Milan Baroš, became the first Czechs to win the Champions League winner’s trophy. And Šmicer remains to this day the only Czech to score in the final of the millionaire competition.
Source: Eurofootball, Livesport, Wikipedia, Twitter accounts
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