The rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool has produced some absolute crackers since the turn of the millennium and ahead of the showdown at Stamford Bridge on Friday, The Hard Tackle looks back at three of the greatest clashes between the two sides.
The fiery rivalry between Chelsea and Liverpool has intensified and reached its peak in recent years. From infamous player transfers to managerial spats, on-field controversies to veritable cliff-hangers, match-ups between Chelsea and Liverpool have had it all.
New managers Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte are sure to add the next chapter in the rivalry between the two English giants. With no European football to worry about for either side this season, the two bosses will be keen on getting some momentum going domestically as they bid to challenge for the Champions League spots in an immensely competitive Premier League.
As we countdown to kick-off at Stamford Bridge on Friday, TheHardTackle takes a trip down memory lane to relive three of the greatest clashes between these two sides since 2000.
1.’The first of many to come’
Date: 27th February 2005
Competition: League Cup (final)
Scoreline: Liverpool 2-3 Chelsea (after extra-time)
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Cardiff was witness to a blockbuster of a League Cup final that could quite probably be pointed out as the game that sparked the intense rivalry between the two English giants. Jose Mourinho and Rafael Benitez in their debut seasons in charge had managed to bring their respective sides to a cup final and were both keen on securing their first piece of silverware.
The game sprung to life in the very beginning when John Arne Riise rifled in Liverpool’s opener in under 40 seconds to score the fastest ever goal in a League Cup final. The Reds seemed to have control over the proceedings as they managed to keep a Blues attack led by Didier Drogba at bay going into the final quarter of the game. However, with just over 10 minutes left on the clock, Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard headed into his own net, much to the shock and dismay of his beloved supporters.
However, it was Jose Mourinho who stole the limelight as he gestured with his fingers to his lips to hush the Liverpool supporters. The Chelsea boss was sent off from the touchline and had to follow the remainder of the game on TV. The Portuguese later clarified his gesture was directed at the English media who played his side’s chances down ahead of the game. Not many of the Reds’ faithful bought into that explanation though.
Extra-time strikes from Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman, of all people, had the Blues in the driver’s seat. Antonio Nunez did pull one back for Liverpool but they couldn’t find the decisive equaliser as they succumbed to the Londoners in a defeat that definitely hurt the Reds.
It was a first piece of silverware under Mourinho and the club’s billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. Revenge however, would come soon and quick for Benitez’s men a couple of months later in a massive Champions League semi-final.
2. ‘Luis Garcia’s Ghost goal’
Date: 3rd May 2005
Competition: Champions League (semi-final 2nd leg)
Score: Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea (1-0 on aggregate)
This game certainly didn’t have the goals that some of the other great clashes between these two sides did, but the hype and tension going into this game was immense. The last time the Reds faced Chelsea that season, they were dealt a cruel blow, losing the League Cup final in extra-time. This time around in the Champions League semi-final, Liverpool had managed to come away with a valuable 0-0 draw in the first leg at Stamford Bridge to take the decider to Anfield.
The Reds needed an early goal and they got exactly that through Luis Garcia in just the 4th minute of the game. The goal was, however, clouded in controversy as there is till date no clarity as to whether the ball actually crossed the line.
John Arne Riise started the move by cutting in from the left and finding Steven Gerrard, who played a first-time flick with the inside of his right foot. The pass fell perfectly for Milan Baros, who knocked it over the onrushing Petr Cech and went down under the challenge from his international team-mate. Luis Garcia was left to add the finishing touch, despite William Gallas’ attempts to clear off the line.
Blues manager Jose Mourinho would later claim that it had not crossed the line, but with television replays inconclusive, any argument was academic. Benitez’s side then sat back and put their bodies on the line to ensure the Chelsea attack posed no further danger to their hopes of taking the flight to Istanbul.
Having been asked on numerous occasions about what transpired on that day at Anfield, ‘The Special One’ always admitted that the Reds deserved to win on the day but that Garcia’s shot had not gone in. It would be the ‘ghost goal’ that would eventually see the Reds script the famous ‘miracle at Istanbul’ against AC Milan in the Champions League final.
3. ‘Greatest Champions League game ever?’
Date: 14th April 2009
Competition: Champions League (Quarter-final 2nd leg)
Score: Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool (7-5 on Aggregate)
Venue: Stamford Bridge
Few games have matched the intensity, tension and madness of the cliff-hanger of a Champions League quarter-final between Liverpool and Chelsea laid in the 2008/09 season. The Reds, who lost the first leg at Anfield by a thumping 3-1 margin, needed nothing short of a miracle at the Bridge to secure a semi-final tie with Barcelona.
A spectacular start saw the Reds nullify the deficit in under the first half hour of the 2nd leg encounter. Fabio Aurelio began the proceedings with a cheeky free-kick that took advantage of Petr Cech’s lack of judgement while lining up for the set piece. Xabi Alonso then emphatically converted from the spot to bring Liverpool level on aggregate.
An inspired 2nd half performance, fuelled by a fiery half-time talk from interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, saw Drogba pull one back on the night. Alex then sent in a thunderbolt of a free-kick to restore the Blues’ two-goal lead on aggregate and Frank Lampard added another in the 76th minute to virtually put the tie out of Liverpool’s reach. However, 2 goals in as many minutes from Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt paved the way for a nervous final few minutes in the game.
Chelsea managed to hold on and seal their passage through to another Champions League semi-final where they would be infamously ousted by Barcelona owing to a horror-show from the referees officiating the game. The Blues were denied as many as four clear penalties in the deciding 2nd leg encounter at Stamford Bridge before Andres Iniesta slammed the winner that send the Blaugrana through to the final in Rome.