Back in 2005, Gerrard was captain of Rafael Benitez’s cross. It was far from the all-conquering side of modern-day and the Reds could only appearance fifth in the league, behind local rivals Everton. However they had a decent season in the cups and reached the final of the League Cup, only to lose to Chelsea, and also touched the final of the Champions League.
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In Istanbul, Gerrard came of age with a phenomenal performance against Italian giants Milan. The Reds looked like they might go out of the tournament in the Group Stage and needed to beat Olympiakos in Liverpool by two goals on Matchday Six.
Rivaldo gave the Greek side the lead and all looked lost for Benitez’s side. Florent Sinama Pongolle equalized minutes after coming on at half-time before Neil Mellor put the English side ahead with nine minutes to go.
With time running out Gerrard smashed the ball home from just outside the area leading to Andy Gray’s infamous ‘you beauty! What a hit son, what a hit!’ line in a commentary. The captain came to the fore once again in the final when they faced Carlo Ancelotti’s side in Istanbul, debatably the best team in Europe at the time.
Legend Paolo Maldini put the Italian’s ahead from a corner after just one minute and a Hernan Crespo doubles in the 39th and 44th minutes looked to end all hopes from the English side. Benitez transported on Vladimir Smicer after 23 minutes and at half the time Dietmar Hamann was brought on.
In six crazy actions from the 54th to 60th minutes, the tie turned around. Gerrard got things started with his goal, Smicer made it 3-2 and Xabi Alonso made it 3-3 with half an hour to go. Goalkeeper saved an Andrey Shevchenko penalty at 3-2 and the ‘keeper’ would pull off an incredible double save in extra time, with the Ukrainian denied twice in quick succession. The match went down to penalties and Gerrard wasn’t needed at the Reds won 3-2 with a spot-kick to spare.
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