UEFA CUP FINAL DAY
Liverpool are back where they belong – in a Cup Final. Call it UEFA Cup or Europa League, either way it’s the same competition which gives us a chance to prove ourselves as one of the best teams in Europe as we go head to head with Sevilla.
While Liverpool have been in a couple of Champions League Finals in 2007 and 2005, the last time Liverpool played in a UEFA Cup Final was 2001. Every single UEFA Cup Final Liverpool have played in, they’ve won. There has never been a UEFA Cup Final which Liverpool made it to and only became “runners up”. We now seek to continue that record and win the 4th ever UEFA Cup the club can claim as their own.
Over the years…
Liverpool made it to the UEFA Cup Final under the management of Bill Shankly in this season. They would have to play Borussia Monchengladbach over two legs and won the UEFA Cup. Kevin Keegan’s two goals and Larry Lloyd’s goal from the first leg were enough to make Liverpool the victors of the tournament, despite losing 2-0 in the second leg. The aggregate score would be 3-2.
Bob Paisley was now the Liverpool manager, although “Shankly’s boys” were still very much part of the squad that boasted players such as Phil Thompson, Ray Clemence, Emelyn Hughes, Ian Callaghan and more legends who had been a part of the ’73 UEFA Cup Final. Again, the Final was played over two legs and the first had been won 3-2, with goals from Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and Kevin Keegan. The 1-1 draw (and a goal from Kevin Keegan) in the second leg that would follow would secure the trophy for Liverpool, 4-3 on aggregate.
Gerrard Houllier was manager back then and while I was too young to have enjoyed the UEFA Cup Finals of the 1970s, I still freshly remember the 2001 UEFA Cup, as I watched it live (on TV, not from the stadium in Dortmund, Germany).
Liverpool’s squad boasted players such as Robbie Fowler, Patrik Berger, Vladmir Smicer, Gary McAllister, Dietmar Hamann, Michael Owen, Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard. We also had a couple of the best defenders in Europe – Sami Hyypia and Stephane Henchoz. Henchoz and Hyypia were solid at the back, nothing got past them (usually). Hyypia was Liverpool’s regular captain at the time, with leadership qualities that inspired our team and gave us confidence. Most of the time, Liverpool could confidently attack with no fear of being hurt by counter attacks because our central defenders knew how to deal with threats, then get the ball up to our consistent attackers who could go get the goals for Liverpool.
Liverpool had made it past teams such as Rapid Bucarest, Slovan Liberec, Olympiakos, Roma, Porto and even Barcelona to make it to the Final where they faced Deportivo Alaves. Their side included players like attacking stars such as Javi Moreno and Jordi Cruyff, son of Johan Cruyff.
Liverpool started the match well, with Gary McAllister taking a free kick which Markus Babbel headed past the goalkeeper around the 4th minute of the game. Emile Heskey nearly scored a few minutes later. Around the 15th minute, Dietmar Hamann gave the ball to Michael Owen. Owen would give the ball to Steven Gerrard and Gerrard would score Liverpool’s second goal of the game.
A few minutes later, Alaves would make a substitution that had a significant impact on the game. They brought on Ivan Alonso, who scored within just a few minutes of being on the pitch. Sander Westerveld had to make some incredible saves to keep Alaves from scoring on several occasions in the first half. Alvaes would consistently keep attacking, searching for an equalizer within the first half. By the end of the first half though, it would be Liverpool who scored again. A penalty would be awarded because of the goalkeeper bringing down Michael Owen in the penalty area. Gary McAllister would take the penalty and score it just before half time. Liverpool would be leading 3-1 at the break.
Alaves came back out stronger than ever, though. Javi Moreno would score two goals in 4 minutes and the score would now be 3-3. Later on, Robbie Fowler would replace Emile Heskey and score around the 72nd minute. Jordi Cruyff would reply with a goal for Alaves and it was then 4-4. Extra time would be necessary and the rules had already been set to allow for a “golden goal” to settle the game if scores were level after extra time. Penalties would have to be played IF a golden goal is not scored, however Liverpool did get their golden goal. To be specific and clear, a Golden Goal is a goal scored in extra time – the first goal to be scored officially determines the winner. Since Gary McAllister put in a free kick which had been awarded just after a second yellow card had to be shown to Antonio Karmona, who had fouled Vladimir Smicer. The free kick went in the direction of Liverpool’s attackers deep in the penalty area but it actually met with Delfi Geli, whose headed attempt to clear the ball went in the wrong direction and found it’s way into the back of his own net. This Golden Goal decided that Liverpool were now the winner of their 3rd ever UEFA Cup (final score 5-4), under the management of Gerrard Houllier. Gary McAllister was awarded Man Of The Match for being directly involved in at least three of Liverpool’s goals in the final.
This was not Liverpool’s only trophy of the season, it was actually a Treble-winning season in which Liverpool also won the FA Cup and League Cup. It was also a season in which Michael Owen became Liverpool’s only player ever to have won the Ballon D’or (while playing for Liverpool). Michael was one of the clubs most successful players as he helped Liverpool to win several trophies in a short period of time. I still appreciate what Owen did for Liverpool to this day and will never forget his contributions to the club. I still regard him as one of my favourite Liverpool players of all time and am glad to have seen him play.
Liverpool now will play at St Jakobs Park in Basel, Swtizerland. Jürgen Klopp has taken Liverpool to two Cup Finals in the 8 months he’s had at the club and we all love him already, whether he’s won them or not. He’ll still have to prove himself worthy of being named among the Liverpool legends like Shankly, Paisley and Houllier who were all victorious in their UEFA Cup Finals.
Will this be another story of glory and success, to reflect upon happily for years to come? Hopefully, yes. I have confidence in our team to go there and fight hard for making this happen. Cheer on Jürgen Klopp and the Reds as we play tonight, from 7:45PM (GMT). Good luck Liverpool! You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.