Liverpool take on FC Basel at Anfield tonight, knowing only three points will be enough to send them through to the knockout phases of the Champions League.
Anfield in particular has a reputation for special European nights, with the Reds having enjoyed some superb success in the competition under Rafael Benitez especially.
But which European nights under the Anfield floodlights were the best? Here, we countdown the top 10 special European night’s at Anfield, since the rebranding of the Champions League.
10 – Liverpool 8-0 Besiktas – 2007-08
It says a lot about Champions League nights at Anfield, that a record Champions League victory for any club in Europe only makes it in at number 10.
Liverpool had started slowly in their Champions League group back in 2007-08, but really got going when Turkish side Beskitas visited Anfield.
The Reds needed to win their remaining three group matches in order to qualify, and got off to the ideal start with an 8-0 hammering in front of the Kop.
Peter Crouch opened the scoring, before Yossi Benayon added a hat trick, Steven Gerrard netted a fifth, and Ryan Babel came off the bench to add a quickfire brace. Crouch completed the night as he started it, by rounding off the scoring to make it eight.
An incredible night at Anfield, not only for the scoreline – but because Andiry Voronin actually looked a top class player for 90 minutes.
What they said: Peter Crouch:
“It is a special night for everyone. I am happy to score but what was important was the way we won.
“We just need to continue to improve all the time. We knew we had our backs to the wall because we had to win three games.
“I’m sure this win will give us a lot of confidence.”
9 – Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan – 2007-08
With the Reds struggling in the Premier League at the time, nobody expected much when Inter Milan arrived at Anfield for the first leg of the last 16 tie in February 2008.
But as was common back then, the Reds found they rose to the occasion under the lights at Anfield.
Dirk Kuyt proved to be the man for the big occasion once more, hitting a deflected shot into the back of the net in front of the Kop, with just five minutes remaining.
Steven Gerrard then added the icing on the cake with a typical long range blockbuster in stoppage time, to give the Reds the perfect platform to head to the San Siro.
Inter felt hard done by having had Marco Matterazzi sent off harshly just half an hour into the game, but the fact Torres went and scored the only goal at the San Siro to seal a 3-0 win for the Reds overall, meant it didn’t matter in the slightest – to us at least.
What they said: Steven Gerrard:
“We are confident and believe the fans will be celebrating again. Yes, another night to remember in Europe.”
8 – Liverpool 4-2 Arsenal – 2007-08
Having seen off Inter Milan in the previous round, Liverpool played out another Champions League classic at Anfield, this time against domestic rivals Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger’s men arrived at Anfield following a 1-1 draw at the Emirates in the first leg – where Dirk Kuyt had popped up with another crucial goal.
However, Arsenal were quick to score an away goal of their own, when Abou Diaby beat Pepe Reina at his near post.
Not for the first time, Sami Hyypia popped up with a crucial Champions League goal at the Anfield Road End to draw the Reds level.
Fernando Torres was enjoying a stunning debut season for Liverpool at the time, and fired one of his very best goals for the Reds in front of the Kop to make it 2-1.
Arsenal looked like they had snatched victory however, when an incredible solo run from Theo Walcott set up Emmanuel Adebayor for the equaliser – and a crucial second away goal.
But before Arsenal had time to catch their breath, substitute Ryan Babel went down in the box under the challenge of Kolo Toure, and Steven Gerrard buried the spot kick to send the Kop wild.
Babel’s pace came in handy once more, when the Dutchman raced onto a clearance to fire a fourth in the final minute of the game to confirm Liverpool’s place in an third semi-final under Benitez, and rub further salt in the Arsenal wounds.
What they said: Kevin McCarra – The Guardian :
“Recriminations, too, ought to be put on hold although Arsenal, easing ahead on the away goals rule after tying the score here at 2-2 in the 84th minute, will be aghast over a loss inflicted primarily by Steven Gerrard’s penalty moments later.
“Only those with a partisan interest can dwell on that when there was so much to revel in over the course of a contest that must rank high in the entire history of this tournament.”
7 – Liverpool 0-1 Barcelona – 2006-07
Whilst a home defeat at Anfield is rarely celebrated, the 1-0 loss to Barcelona in the second leg of the last 16 tie in 2007 saw Anfield erupt at the final whistle.
Liverpool had done the hard work in the Nou Camp previously, where Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise put their little golf club incident behind them to both get on the scoresheet in a 2-1 win.
That meant the Reds went onto the quarter final, despite Eidur Gudjohnson scoring the only goal of the night for the Catalan’s at Anfield.
But with Barca the reigning champions, and widely considered the best team on the planet at the time, the manner in which the Reds defended was truly magnificent – and meant they were a step closer to another Champions League final.
What they said: Rafa Benitez :
“My players produced almost a perfect performance. Every player and every supporter should be proud.”
6 – Liverpool 2-1 Juventus 2004-05
Emotions were running high when Juventus visited Anfield in March 2005, with the first leg of the Champions League quarter final proving to be the first meeting between the two clubs since the Heysel disaster.
The Kop paid it’s respects with a mosaic before kick off, and the atmosphere was simply electric.
In what was Rafael Benitez’s first season in charge at Anfield, nobody gave the Reds a prayer against one of the best teams in Europe at the time.
But superb volleyed goals from Sami Hyypia and Luis Garcia gave the Reds a shock 2-0 lead at half time, and despite a second half error from Scott Carson giving the Italians an away goal, the 2-1 victory ranked alongside one of the shocks of many a season in the competition – although bigger were to come.
On a night when Benitez fielded the likes of Carson, Djimi Traore, Igor Biscan, Antonio Nunez, and Anthony Le Tellac, the Reds ended up taking a major step towards their fifth European Cup triumph.
What they said: Steven Gerrard:
“We’d have have taken that before the game.
“It was such a great atmosphere and we scored two but it was a blow to concede one.
“I’m sure Scott will be disappointed with it but he stopped one in the first half that was one of the best saves I have seen this season.
“He will learn and now Scott or Jerzy need to keep a clean sheet for us in the second leg.
“I don’t think we’ll play for a 0-0. We have got the ability to nick a goal over there. That will be the game plan, to keep a clean sheet and nick a goal. I firmly believe we have the quality to get a goal over there.
“A clean sheet and we’re in the last four of the competition. That would be magnificent for this football club.”
5 – Liverpool 2-0 Roma – 2000-01
The only match of the top ten that didn’t feature a Rafael Benitez side, sees the famous 2-0 win over Roma back in 2002 take the number 5 spot.
This match was memorable for so many reasons, the main one being it saw Gerard Houllier return to the Liverpool dugout for the first time in six months, having undergone life saving heart surgery in October.
That proved inspirational for not only the players, but the Anfield supporters.
Roared on by their team, the Reds managed the 2-0 win they needed in order to qualify for the last 16, thanks to an early penalty from Jari Litmanen, and a towering second half header from Emile Heskey.
Yes, that’s right. A towering second half header, from Emile Heskey.
What they said: Phil Thompson:
“This was one of the greatest nights in this football club’s history.
“We can go to the final, there is that much confidence in this team and this squad. There is a belief that we can win the European Cup.”
4 – Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid – 2008-09
There is little doubt that Rafael Benitez’s best Liverpool side was the one produced during the 2008-09 season.
A campaign which saw the Reds narrowly miss out on the Premier League title, also saw one of the most memorable European nights at Anfield in the clubs history.
Real Madrid arrived on Merseyside trailing to a Yossi Benayoun header from the first leg in Spain.
But their reputation alone was enough to strike fear into lesser teams, however the Reds went about dismantling them with an outstanding attacking display.
Fernando Torres opened the scoring with a close range finish following good work from Dirk Kuyt, before Steven Gerrard made the game safe with two goals either side of half time.
Andrea Dossena is hardly one of the best footballers to play for Liverpool – but the Italian scored the first of his two memorable goals for the club, making it 4-0 on the night from close range – he would add the fourth in a 4-1 win at Old Trafford just a game later.
The result sent shockwaves around Europe, and saw the Reds progress to their fourth Champions League quarter final under their Spanish coach.
What they said: Fernando Torres:
“This was a big night for Liverpool and for English football as well.
“We showed Real Madrid that this is Anfield and that Liverpool can win against any team here.
“It was a fantastic performance. After the first goal they knew it would be difficult because they had to score two. The penalty finished the game.”
3 – Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea – Liverpool win 4-1 on penalties – 2006-07
The night Pepe Reina established himself as a Liverpool legend, and sent Rafa’s Reds through to their second Champions League final in three seasons.
Trailing 1-0 from the first leg at Stamford Bridge, Benitez went up against old foe Jose Mourinho once more for a place in the final in Athens.
And for the second time in three seasons, the Spaniard got the better of the self-proclaimed ‘special one’, when a well worked set-piece saw Daniel Agger level the score on aggregate.
Anfield was forced to endure a nervy second half and extra time – a time in which Dirk Kuyt had a goal wrongly ruled out for offside.
But the Dutchman would have his moment of glory, firing the winning penalty after Reina had saved from Arjen Robben and Geremi, and Bolo Zenden, Xabi Alonso and Steven Gerrard had scored from the spot.
The tears of John Terry on the Anfield turf, simply made it sweeter.
What they said: Rafa Benitez:
“Pepe Reina is a player who is always good with penalties.
“Every player and every supporter deserves the win – the atmosphere was amazing.”
2: Liverpool 3-1 Olympiakos – 2004-05
Whilst it is so easy to remember the famous comeback in Istanbul – Liverpool produced one that proved almost as dramatic in December 2004.
Liverpool knew going into their final group game against Olympiakos, a win by two clear goals – or by the complexity of the regulations 1-0 – in order to progress to the last 16.
That looked highly unlikely when Rivaldo curled home a free kick to put the Greek’s 1-0 up at half time.
But the introduction of young strikers Florent Sinama-Pongolle and Neil Mellor changed the game in the Reds favour.
The French forward made it 1-1 shortly after the restart, and proceeded to run the Greek defence ragged.
He had a hand in the second goal – a classic poachers finish from Neil Mellor – who then teed up Steven Gerrard to fire one of the most famous goals in the club’s history – to send Liverpool through to the last 16 in the most dramatic fashion possible.
What they said: Sky Sports – Andy Gray:
“Ohhhhh you beauty!! What a hit son! What a hit!!”
1 – Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea – 2004-05
A night of unbearable tension, controversy, passion, heroics, and incredible atmosphere.
The 1-0 win over Chelsea on May 3rd 2005 will be forever remembered as one of the greatest nights in Anfield’s illustrious history.
Whether Luis Garcia’s shot crossed the line or not – who cares?
The Reds defended heroically against the newly crowned Champions of England – and fast on their way to becoming the newly crowned most hated team in the country under the stewardship of Mourinho.
Jamie Carragher was particularly outstanding, leading the defence through 87 minutes – plus that ridiculous six minutes of stoppage time – to a famous result that sent Benitez and his side onto Istanbul – where we all know what happened next.
What they said: Jose Mourinho:
“The linesman scored the goal. No-one knows if that shot went over the line and you must be 100%.
“But they are in the final and from my heart I hope they win it. The night belongs to them and I don’t want to criticise them.”
Dont worry Jose… we did.