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Are These Liverpool’s Most Thrilling European Cup Semi-Finals Ever?

Liverpool players celebrate the first goal of the game, scored by Ray Kennedy (fifth from left), which levelled the aggregate scores against Borussia Monchengladbach
Liverpool players celebrate the first goal of the game, scored by Ray Kennedy (fifth from left), which levelled the aggregate scores against Borussia Monchengladbach

Whether it’s the European Cup or the Champions League Liverpool Football Club has always had something of a love affair with Europe’s elite competition down the years; lifting the huge trophy more times than any other club in England.

And as a result of such unrivaled success the club has been involved in plenty of thrilling semi-finals, some good, some bad, on their way to becoming the competition’s most successful English side.

Here’s a look at some of the more memorable.

1965: Internazionale. Liverpool lost 4-3 on aggregate

This was Liverpool’s first foray into the European Cup having clinched their first title the previous season and they made the semi-finals in bizarre fashion courtesy of the toss of a coin against Cologne in the quarter-finals which set up a tasty tie with the Italian Champions.

In the first leg at Anfield Roger Hunt put Liverpool ahead after just three minutes only for Mazzola to pull Inter level some seven minutes later, but further strikes from Ian Callaghan and Ian St John helped seal what many felt would be a decisive 3-1 victory.

However, two goals in the first 10 minutes of the second-leg in the San Siro from Mario Corso and Joaquin Peiro brought the scores level on aggregate before Inter left-back Giacinto Facchetti scored with half an hour to go to ensure his side and not Liverpool would progress to the final, which was also to be played at the San Siro.

1977: FC Zurich. Liverpool won 6-1 on aggregate

Liverpool were chasing a historic treble in 1977 with the league virtually in the bag and an FA Cup final to look forward to when a European Cup semi-final gave them the chance to do something no other English team had ever done.

Liverpool ran-out 3-1 winners in the first-leg thanks to goals from Phil Neale and Steve Heighway which all but sealed the tie before a glorious night at Anfield saw the Reds clinch their first ever European Cup final with a convincing 3-0 victory.

Liverpool were eventually crowned champions of Europe that May after beating Borussia Monchengladbach in the final in Rome to go with their league title, but the treble eluded them when they were beaten 2-1 by Manchester United in the FA Cup final.

1978: Borussia Monchengladbach. Liverpool won 4-2 on aggregate

Liverpool had faced the German champions almost 12 months earlier in Rome when they won their first ever European Cup and the following season the two found themselves drawn together once more; this time in the semi-final.

Playing the first-leg in Germany Monchengladbach were set to make full use of their home advantage and a Wilfried Hannes goal looked to have done just that with a strike in the first half. However, an equalizer from David Johnson with just two minutes left gave Liverpool a vital away goal.

Back at Anfield an early Ray Kennedy strike put Liverpool in control while a second from Kenny Dalglish before half-time all but sealed Liverpool’s place in the final, only for Jimmy Case to confirm that place at Wembley where they would defend their title with a win over Bruges.

1981: Bayern Munich 1-1 on aggregate. Liverpool won on away goals

Unusually for Liverpool they failed to capitalise on home advantage at Anfield in the first-leg as they were held to a rather unimpressive 0-0 draw against the champions of Germany and after the game Bayern were so confident of winning at the Olympiastadion that leaflets with directions to Paris, which was hosting that year’s final, were handed out before the game.

But if anything Liverpool used this to their advantage as it spurred them on to a brilliant performance in Bavaria despite Kenny Dalglish being forced off with an ankle injury with 10 minutes to go.

In the 83rd minute Ray Kennedy scored a crucial goal to put Liverpool in the driving seat and even though Karl-Heinz Rummenigge equalised minutes later it was Liverpool who advanced to the final on away goals to play Real Madrid, a game which they won 1-0.

1984: Dinamo Bucharest. Liverpool won 3-1 on aggregate

Just two years after lifting the European Cup in Paris Liverpool were once again looking to be crowned Kings of Europe and only Romanian champions Dinamo Bucharest stood in their way, though it was to be far from an easy tie.

In a tight affair at Anfield in the first-leg Joe Fagan’s side eventually claimed a hard-fought 1-0 victory thanks to a rare headed goal from Sammy Lee but the headlines instead focused on a bust up between Graeme Souness and Bucharest’s Lica Movila, which saw the Scotsman lashing out and leaving the Romanian with a broken jaw.

Not surprisingly, Souness was the target of much abuse from the home fans in Bucharest and while Costel Orac got the hosts back into the game with a strike shortly before half time; Liverpool stood firm in the second half and a crucial Ian Rush away goal soon calmed the nerves while sending them to another European final.

2005: Chelsea. Liverpool won 1-0 on aggregate

Roman Abramovich’s big spending Chelsea were on the brink of great things when they met Liverpool in the semi-final of the 2005 Champions League as a club with new found ambition and wealth faced a side rich in European pedigree – something had to give.

Following a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge, it took just four minutes for Liverpool to take advantage in the second-leg as Milan Baros beat Petr Cech to the ball allowing Garcia to tap in for one of the most controversial strikes in the history of the competition as Chelsea’s players claimed the ball had not crossed the line; but the referee gave the goal.

Despite Chelsea having numerous chances over the two legs it was Liverpool who held on against their domestic rivals to confirm their first European Cup final in 20 years and to set up one of the club’s most memorable nights in Istanbul just a few weeks later.

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