It's really super
After a Champions League final victory over Tottenham that snored the neutral into submission (fair enough after that Barcelona semi-final, really), Liverpool will now meet Chelsea after the Blues' Europa League victory over Arsenal.
The Reds have a rich history of doing battle with a British rival on the continental stage, of course – and in this slideshow we remember some of their most memorable clashes from years gone by...
Hibernian 0-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 2-0 Hibernian (Inter-Cities Fairs Cup third round, 1970-71)
The Inter-Cities Fairs Cup was founded in 1955 to promote – you guessed it – intercity trade fairs, and it was only in the tournament’s latter years that qualification was based on league position. The 1970-71 edition was the final one before its abolition.
Coventry, Newcastle and Liverpool were England’s other representatives that year, while Scottish sides Dundee United, Rangers, Kilmarnock and Hibernian also took part. Hibernian and Liverpool came together for an all-British contest in the third round, with both legs won by the Reds thanks to goals from John Toshack, Steve Heighway (pictured) and Phil Boersma.
Liverpool 0-1 Leeds, Leeds 0-0 Liverpool (Inter-Cities Fairs Cup semi-final, 1970-71)
Liverpool swept aside Bayern Munich 4-1 on aggregate to set up an all-English semi against Leeds. Don Revie’s side, who had won this trophy in 1968, were en route to their eighth successive top-four finish; Bill Shankly's side were a touch more erratic but on course for their seventh top-five placing in the same timescale.
Leeds had happy memories of Anfield – it's where, in 1969, they'd sealed their first top-flight title – and a half-fit Billy Bremner's 62nd-minute goal at the Kop end gave them a lead they never lost. In the two-legged final, the Yorkshire side beat Juventus 3-3 on away goals; Liverpool, meanwhile, ended the campaign empty-handed after a fifth-place finish in the First Division and an FA Cup Final defeat by Arsenal.
Liverpool 1-0 Tottenham, Tottenham 2-1 Liverpool (UEFA Cup semi-final, 1972-73)
In April 1973 Liverpool were fighting on two fronts: they led the league table while targeting European glory in the UEFA Cup. Having beaten three German sides plus AEK Athens, they found themselves in an all-English semi-final against UEFA Cup holders Tottenham.
The first leg at Anfield was decided by Alec Lindsay's goal, and by the second leg Liverpool were champions of England. That didn't stop Martin Peters levelling the tie, but Steve Heighway's away goal put Liverpool in control – and although Peters bagged again, the Reds went through. In the two-legged final, they blew away Borussia Monchengladbach 3-0 at Anfield then weathered a nervy 2-0 defeat in West Germany to win their first continental title.
Hibernian 1-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 3-1 Hibernian (UEFA Cup first round, 1975-76)
Having won the UEFA Cup in 1973, Liverpool avoided it for two years because they were in the European Cup and then the Cup Winners' Cup. When they returned to it in 1975/76, with Bob Paisley at the helm, their campaign was almost over before it started.
Again paired with Scottish side Hibs, Liverpool lost the first leg in Edinburgh to a Joe Harper goal – and it could've been worse had Ray Clemence not saved John Brownlie's penalty. At Anfield, John Toshack's first-half strike was answered by Alexander Edwards' away goal – but the big Welshman scored twice after the break to send Paisley's men through. Nearly eight months later, Liverpool won the UEFA Cup again by beating Club Brugge – but again, they wouldn't defend their trophy: they were about to start nine consecutive campaigns in the European Cup.
Liverpool 2-0 Crusaders, Crusaders 0-5 Liverpool (European Cup first round, 1976-77)
The Champions League format quickly filters out teams from smaller nations, but the European Cup's straight knockout format would regularly pair sides like Crusaders, Linfield and Glentoran with Europe's giants. In October 1973 Crusaders had lost their second leg against Dinamo Bucharest 11-0, so a 7-0 aggregate loss to Liverpool three years later wasn’t too disastrous in comparison.
At Anfield, the Reds won through a Phil Neal penalty and John Toshack's goal, before Crusaders' collapse late in the second leg – they were only 1-0 down with 10 minutes to go – rendered the scoreline emphatic. Liverpool would go on to win the European Cup, their victory in Rome capped by a penalty goal from Phil Neal – who had started the ball rolling at Anfield.
Nottingham Forest 2-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 0-0 Nottingham Forest (European Cup first round, 1978-79)
The old European Cup didn't include modern fripperies like group stages and seeded draws, which is why 1978/79's first round pitted English champions Nottingham Forest against European champions Liverpool, leaving many to presume that Forest’s first participation in the continent's premier club competition would come to a rapid end.
As it happened, it was only the beginning. Goals from Colin Barrett and Garry Birtles earned Brian Clough’s side a 2-0 triumph at the City Ground, before a masterclass in backs-to-the-wall defending paid off at Anfield as the East Midlanders secured a goalless draw. Liverpool, remarkably, had fallen at the first hurdle. Forest, even more remarkably, would go on to win the tournament. Twice.
Aberdeen 0-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 4-0 Aberdeen (European Cup second round, 1980-81)
Having lifted the European Cup in 1977 and 1978, Liverpool had to watch as Forest won it in 1979 and 1980. But they reclaimed the prize in 1980/81, when Aberdeen were among their victims on the way to a 1-0 success against Real Madrid in the final.
Alex Ferguson’s men were the reigning Scottish champions and certainly weren’t to be underestimated, but Liverpool’s experience told in a 1-0 win at Pittodrie in the first leg, thanks to Terry McDermott's early goal. Back at Anfield on Bonfire Night, Bob Paisley’s side scorched the Dons with goals from an Englishman (Phil Neal) and three Scots: Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen... and own-goal sufferer Willie Miller.
Celtic 2-2 Liverpool, Liverpool 0-0 Celtic (UEFA Cup first round, 1997-98)
Despite the Champions League rejigs, the UEFA Cup remained a straight knockout competition until 2004-05 – hence this two-legged, all-British affair in the 1997-98 first round proper (Celtic had already beaten Cardiff side Inter CabelTel in the qualifiers).
Liverpool edged in front at Parkhead thanks to Michael Owen’s early strike, but after the break the Bhoys bounced back through Jackie McNamara and Simon Donnelly. However, Steve McManaman's 89th-minute leveller proved pivotal, with a 0-0 draw at Anfield enough for Roy Evans’ side to advance. They fell at the next hurdle, not quite rectifying a 3-0 loss at Strasbourg with a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Celtic 1-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 0-2 Celtic (UEFA Cup quarter-final, 2002-03)
Celtic routinely fall short in their bid to reach the latter stages of continental competition these days, but it wasn’t always thus. Although a repeat of their superb European Cup success of 1967 looked increasingly unlikely as the new millennium came into being, the Bhoys did make it through to the 2003 UEFA Cup Final in Seville, where they were beaten 3-2 in extra time by Jose Mourinho's Porto.
In the second round, Celtic beat Blackburn home and away, but their quarter-final against Liverpool was tougher. In Glasgow Emile Heskey equalised Henrik Larsson's opener, but at Anfield an Alan Thompson free-kick and a John Hartson stunner sent Celtic through.
Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (Champions League semi-final, 2004-05)
After facing six different British opponents in 11 seasons from 1970/71 to 1980/81, in the next two dozen campaigns Liverpool's only "domestic" opponents were Celtic – until that changed dramatically in the middle of the last decade. Their first all-British Champions League clash pitted them against Premier League champions-elect Chelsea in the last four. Managers Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho both prioritised a clean sheet in the first leg at Stamford Bridge, and a tight, tense encounter finished – to the surprise of absolutely no one – goalless.
Luis Garcia broke the deadlock in controversial circumstances early in the second leg, with Chelsea adamant the ball didn't cross the line after the Spaniard hooked a finish over a scrambling John Terry. The Blues' protests fell on deaf ears, though, and their failure to find an equaliser sent Liverpool through to the Istanbul final against Milan. The rest, as they say, is history.
Liverpool 3-0 TNS, TNS 0-3 Liverpool (Champions League qualifying first round, 2005-06)
In days of yore, the European Cup was only open to champions and the holders. By 2005, top-level football had become such a closed shop that UEFA hadn't considered the possibility of the holders failing to qualify for the Champions League via their domestic league finish; but as Liverpool – in possession of the trophy thanks to their dramatic defeat of Milan – had only finished fifth in the Premier League in 2004-05, they had to improvise.
A compromise was found and the Reds were permitted entry into the first qualifying round, where they were drawn against Welsh minnows TNS. Steven Gerrard bagged a hat-trick at Anfield and a brace in front of 8000 fans at Wrexham's Racecourse Ground, with Djibril Cisse scoring the other.
Liverpool 0-0 Chelsea, Chelsea 0-0 Liverpool (Champions League group stage, 2005-06)
Due to their unusual route into the competition proper, Liverpool were drawn alongside a fellow English side in Chelsea in the group stage of the 2005-06 edition of the Champions League.
Neither games lived long in the memory, with a pair of ‘chess matches’ and ‘intriguing tactical battles’ producing a grand total of zero goals over 180 minutes of action. Scoreless stalemates at both Anfield and Stamford Bridge suited both teams, though, as the English duo advanced to the knockout phase ahead of Real Betis and Anderlecht.
Chelsea 1-0 Liverpool, Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (Champions League semi-final, 2006-07)
For the first time there was more than one goal in a pair of Champions League clashes between Chelsea and Liverpool, but the defences were still on top for both games in 2006-07. Jose Mourinho’s side seemed to be targeting a European gong after two consecutive Premier League title triumphs, and a first-ever appearance in the final looked quite possible after they won the first leg 1-0 via a goal from Joe Cole.
The Blues knew that an away goal at Anfield had the potential to knock the stuffing out of their hosts, who would then need three without reply to qualify for the final. But it was Liverpool who took the lead through Daniel Agger, and Chelsea’s inability to find an equaliser signalled penalties.
The shoot-out wasn’t even close: Bolo Zenden, Xabi Alonso, Steven Gerrard and Dirk Kuyt all scored for Liverpool, with flubs from Arjen Robben and Geremi making it 4-1 to the Reds on spot-kicks.
Arsenal 1-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal (Champions League quarter-final, 2007-08)
Both Arsenal and Liverpool had overcome Milanese opposition in the round of 16, the former beating Milan and the latter dispatching Inter. This tie was finely poised after a 1-1 draw in London, and the second leg was a belter.
Abou Diaby edged the Gunners ahead early on, before goals from Sami Hyypia and Fernando Torres either side of half-time gave Liverpool the advantage. A remarkable 84th-minute run from Theo Walcott set up Emmanuel Adebayor for Arsenal’s second, which seemed crucial – until a Steven Gerrard spot-kick and a Ryan Babel breakaway sent the Reds through.
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea, Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool (Champions League semi-final, 2007-08)
Having beaten Arsenal in the quarters, Liverpool had more London opposition in the semis. Chelsea must have been questioning whether they’d ever beat Liverpool in Europe when Dirk Kuyt gave the Merseysiders the lead in the first leg; a 1-0 victory would have been a fine home result for the Reds, but a John Arne Riise own goal deep into second-half stoppage time changed the complexion of the tie entirely.
Back at the Bridge, Chelsea drew first blood through Didier Drogba, but a Fernando Torres strike sent the game into extra time. Frank Lampard and Drogba put the Blues 3-1 ahead, and although Ryan Babel’s late effort made for an anxious final few minutes for the home fans, Chelsea held on.
Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea, Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (Champions League quarter-final, 2008-09)
You again? Incredibly, Liverpool and Chelsea were once again drawn against each other in 2008-09, making it five consecutive campaigns of Champions League action between two clubs who had grown to strongly dislike one another.
A 3-1 victory at Anfield in the first leg – featuring two goals from unlikely hero Branislav Ivanovic – meant Guus Hiddink's side had one foot in the semi-finals. But the Reds rallied and stormed into a two-goal lead at Stamford Bridge, before goals from Didier Drogba, Alex and Frank Lampard put Chelsea in the box seat.
The drama wasn’t over, though. The Reds responded with two quick-fire goals from Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt, which meant – remarkably – they only needed one more to progress. But Chelsea regrouped and sealed their place in the final when Lampard made it 4-4 on the night.
Hearts 0-1 Liverpool, Liverpool 1-1 Hearts (Europa League play-off, 2012-13)
An eighth-place finish in the Premier League in 2011-12 wasn’t enough for a spot in the Europa League group phase, but Liverpool’s League Cup triumph sent them through to third qualifying round. That task was dealt with comfortably, Kenny Dalglish’s charges easing to a 4-0 aggregate triumph over Gomel of Belarus, a result which set up an all-British encounter in the play-off round.
Liverpool were, understandably, heavy favourites to get the better of Hearts, and they appeared to have put the tie to bed with a 1-0 win at Tynecastle. The Reds rode their luck in the second leg, though, and the Scots took the lead in the 84th minute through David Templeton. Thankfully for Liverpool, Luis Suarez was on hand to spare the hosts’ blushes with a late equaliser on the night.
Liverpool 2-0 Man United, Man United 1-1 Liverpool (Europa League last 16, 2015-16)
In March 2016, arch-rivals Liverpool and Manchester United were squabbling for sixth and seventh place in the Premier League; the chance of Europa League glory was a welcome change of pace, particularly when they were drawn together for the first time in European competition.
At a crackling Anfield, Jurgen Klopp’s men went two up through Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino, before defending well to deny United an away goal. Over in Manchester, Anthony Martial halved the deficit from the penalty spot after 32 minutes, giving the Red Devils hope of a memorable comeback. But Philippe Coutinho extinguished that with a goal on the stroke of half-time.
Liverpool 3-0 Man City, Man City 1-2 Liverpool (Champions League quarter-finals, 2017/18)
Pre-match chatter centered around Liverpool fans' bombardment of the Manchester City team coach, but it was on the pitch where the Reds ultimately ran riot. They raced into a three-goal lead within 31 minutes of kick-off in the first leg – the same lead they took to Manchester for the return fixture.
It wasn't quite more of the same at the Etihad: only a 2-1 victory this time thanks to some kind officiating and goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, after overturning Gabriel Jesus's second-minute goal. Still: Jurgen Klopp probably would have taken a 5-1 aggregate win beforehand...
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