The ball took an unusually large bounce into the path of Luis Garcia. Seconds later, the entire stadium had erupted. It was difficult to see the exact moment that it hit the back of the net from the other end of the ground, but the wave of enthusiasm from those around me, and the sight of a helpless Gigi Buffon sat on the floor in the aftermath, ensured that it wasn’t just imagination.
It’s ingrained in the British psyche of anyone over the age of 25, that striking a bouncing ball is preferable when hoping to score goals regardless of talent. The principle is based on the fact that most goalkeepers growing up probably couldn’t reach their own crossbar, never mind be in the right position.
It’s an outdated theory given the change in the UK's football youth structure over the last 10 years, but as this occurred 14 years ago, the fans inside Anfield who didn’t scream ‘hit it’ were certainly thinking it. Not that such an ideology would have played a part in the Catalan's decision-making, mind.
Garcia had scored three goals in the previous round against Bayer Leverkusen, and confidence was clearly high. He was also known for his outrageous technique, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when he put the Reds 2-0 ahead after only 25 minutes.
Reds fans had witnessed another superb volley just three months earlier when Steven Gerrard’s goal gave Liverpool the result they needed to progress beyond Olympiacos in the final Champions League group stage. But this was Juventus (who would go on to win Serie A that season), and this was the world’s most expensive goalkeeper who'd just been beaten.
Liverpool in a must-win Champions League game against Italian opposition?
That takes us back to this Luis Garcia wonder-goal from 2005
Tomorrow night, Napoli are the visitors to Anfield pic.twitter.com/usan0b5nOP— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) December 10, 2018
The Champions League quarter-final in 2005 was the first meeting between these two sides since the Heysel disaster. The Kop held up a mosaic that read ‘Amicizia’ (Friendship), while red, black and white wristbands were distributed before the game to mark the horrific night 20 years prior.
Emotions were clearly high for all in attendance, and that goal signified the first time that Liverpool began to believe they could actually win the competition. The ‘ghost goal’ against Chelsea in the semi-final and events in Istanbul against Milan naturally figure higher in the memory than Garcia’s half-volley.
“To be honest I don’t remember the goal,” laughed former Juve full-back Gianluca Zambrotta when interviewed for November 2016’s FourFourTwo. He obviously had different reasons for his blurred recollection, but for those in Red that night it will never be forgotten.
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