Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool (2008/09)
One of the most memorable results for travelling Reds was their trip to Madrid in 2009 – a first-leg played out among rumours that Benitez was set to quit as manager after the game due to internal politics with owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett. High up in the Bernabeu heavens, the travelling Kopites sang Rafa’s name incessantly during the second half.
On the pitch, it was Yossi Benayoun who headed the only goal of the game with eight minutes remaining to inflict defeat on the Spanish champions. Buoyed from that victory, Benitez’s boys secured a comprehensive 4-0 win back at Anfield. He signed a new contract later that month.
Inter Milan 0-1 Liverpool (2007/08)
Entering the first knockout stage, Benitez’s side won 2-0 at home against the mighty Inter Milan – but faced a very different challenge against the Italian champions at San Siro.
Yet Liverpool, having been to two of the last three finals in the competition, were determined to push on. The 1-0 victory arrived courtesy of Fernando Torres, and it felt as though Liverpool were unbeatable in Europe. It was these games that showed Benitez at his very best as a tactician.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Liverpool (2004/05)
When Liverpool visited Leverkusen in 2005, they had a ghost from their recent past to put to rest. In 2002, they crashed out of the Champions League quarter-finals at the Bay Arena, despite winning the home leg 1-0 and securing two away goals on the night.
Gerard Houllier had famously said pre-match that his side were “10 games from greatness”. Instead, they went out 4-3 on aggregate.
So when Rafa Benitez’s side returned to Leverkusen three years later, there were haunting memories for Reds fans. Thankfully there were no further nightmares, and two goals from Luis Garcia in the first half were added to by Milan Baros in the second. Liverpool progressed comfortably, 6-2 on aggregate, on a night that helped the squad believe they could be a force in Europe under Benitez.
This was also a trip memorable for Rafa’s trip to a Cologne pub the night before the game, looking for somewhere to watch Chelsea’s match on television in a town swarming with Liverpool supporters. As the Reds gaffer explained: ”We tried to sneak in without anyone noticing, and I said to the first fan, 'Ssshhhhh be quiet'. But next thing the whole place erupted and everyone was singing ‘Rafa, Rafa Benitez'."
Juventus 0-0 Liverpool (2004/05)
Having won the quarter-final first leg 2-1 at Anfield, Liverpool needed a defensive performance of real quality to keep out a Juve side featuring Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Alessandro Del Piero and Pavel Nedved.
Despite having no Steven Gerrard due to suspension, Liverpool got the job done with a superb showing from centre-back duo Sami Hyypia and Jamie Carragher. Benitez’s tactics were perfect, and the wily Spaniard secured a clean sheet with a side containing Igor Biscan, Antonio Nunez and Djimi Traore – players who would go on to win the Champions League in Istanbul that season.
PSV Eindhoven 0-3 Liverpool (2006/07)
The season after the Reds’ Miracle of Istanbul, no such divine intervention was needed at the Philips Stadion, as a 3-0 victory was delivered in an efficient, composed manner that summed up Benitez’s management in Europe.
Goals from Steven Gerrard, John Arne Riise and Peter Crouch made for an extremely comfortable quarter-final second leg back at Anfield a fortnight later against Ronald Koeman’s side.
Marseille 0-4 Liverpool (2007/08)
A similarly assured away performance arrived the following season in Marseille, when Benitez’s side needed a win in their final group game to progress from the group stage. The pressure was on, but Reds needn’t have worried: in Europe at this time, Rafa’s sides delivered time after time.
A stunning Steven Gerrard goal after just four minutes silenced a raucous French crowd at the Stade Velodrome, before Fernando Torres, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel made it 4-0 on the night. A third Champions League semi-final in four seasons was to follow.
Manchester City 1-2 Liverpool (2017/18)
Having disposed of champions-elect Manchester City 3-0 at Anfield, Klopp’s side were heavy favourites to progress from this quarter-final. But that didn’t mean the pressure wasn’t on, not least after Gabriel Jesus’s second-minute goal at the Etihad.
Liverpool, though, produced arguably their best away performance under Klopp to come from behind and win 2-1 on the night – making it a cool 5-1 on aggregate. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were the scorers, with Salah’s a particular highlight: a team move cut apart the home side, ending with the Egyptian’s composed finish over Ederson in front of the travelling Reds.
Tactically, Klopp got it spot on: switching Firmino to the left and Salah into a central role, and deploying Gini Wijnaldum as the holding midfielder. It's a performance that Klopp will be reminding his players of again this week.
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