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Champions League Classics: Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool

Watch a frenzied quarter-final decider on UEFA.tv – and read this introduction first.

Frank Lampard after making it 4-4 at Stamford Bridge
Frank Lampard after making it 4-4 at Stamford Bridge

The following morning, the Daily Mirror wrote of this 2008/09 UEFA Champions League quarter-final decider: "Don't even try to explain this, don't even think about working it out. Just sit back, reflect, remember – and imagine what Guus Hiddink and Rafa Benítez went through." Sums it up perfectly.

WATCH IN FULL ON UEFA.tv


Context

First leg highlights: Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea
First leg highlights: Liverpool 1-3 Chelsea

In this all-English tie, Liverpool looked to be holding all the aces after Fernando Torres gave them a sixth-minute lead at Anfield, but Guus Hiddink's Chelsea rallied magnificently, two finishes from defender Branislav Ivanović helping them pick up a 3-1 first-leg win. If Liverpool fans didn't know they were beaten then, they may have got a sinking feeling when talisman Steven Gerrard was absent from the starting line-up for the return leg with an unpublicised groin injury. A formality for the Blues, surely.

Key players

Frank Lampard: The box-to-box midfielder was a Chelsea regular for 13 years – leaving in 2014 as the club's all-time top scorer with 211 goals in all competitions. His reputation as a hard worker was well-established, but he had a classy touch and a powerful finish too.

Fábio Aurélio: Liverpool’s first Brazilian signing, Fábio Aurélio moved to Anfield to rekindle his relationship with Benítez – his coach at Valencia. The left-back had bad luck with injuries, but showed his full potential at Stamford Bridge, not least his set-piece prowess.

Champions League icon: Didier Drogba
Champions League icon: Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba: Twice African Player of the Year during the first of his two stints at Chelsea, the Ivorian forward showed his selflessness as well as his cutting edge against Liverpool. He was credited with one goal and had a hand in a couple more.

What happened

The Reds' 3-1 first-leg deficit was a formidable barrier but Fábio Aurélio's free-kick and Xabi Alonso's penalty soon had the scores level. Listless in the first half, Chelsea roared back with second-half goals from Drogba, Alex and Lampard, but somehow Liverpool were still not dead and buried.

Lucas Leiva's deflected shot and Dirk Kuyt's header left home supporters fearing the worst – at 4-3 up, another goal would have taken the Reds to the semis. However, Lampard struck again with a minute left to make it 4-4 on the night and take relieved Chelsea through.

Reaction

Liverpool v Chelsea classic moments
Liverpool v Chelsea classic moments

Guus Hiddink, Chelsea manager: "I've been involved in some dramatic games like this one where players make a lot of errors. That's why it was attractive, especially in the second half. You think you're down, the team reacts and then you're up. There are waves of being in the game and then out of it."

Frank Lampard, Chelsea midfielder: "It was a case of 'just turn up and play please' [from Hiddink at half-time] because in the first half we did not turn up. We knew we had to up our game and I'm just delighted to score two goals. The way Liverpool played was very, very special but we made it difficult for ourselves."

Rafael Benítez, Liverpool manager: “We are not happy with the result. When you lose you are disappointed but to lose in this way, the players have to be really proud and hold their heads up high.”

Elsewhere that night

Great Champions League goals from 2008/09
Great Champions League goals from 2008/09

Barcelona breezed through to a semi-final with Chelsea following a 1-1 draw at Bayern München (they had won the Camp Nou first leg 4-0). "There wasn't much to play for tonight after our first-leg performance," conceded midfielder Yaya Touré with a shrug. "It was more a question of reinforcing the advantage we had."

Aftermath

Barcelona eliminated Chelsea in the next round on away goals, a 0-0 draw at Camp Nou followed by a 1-1 at Stamford Bridge, and Josep Guardiola’s side left another set of English fans disappointed as they beat Manchester United 2-0 in the Rome final. Chelsea ended the season with the FA Cup, a memento of Hiddink’s three-month stand-in spell as coach.

Liverpool came second in the Premier League in 2008/09, four points behind champions Man. United. The following campaign was less successful, a seventh-place league finish and a group-stage UEFA Champions League exit contributing to boss Benítez’s departure after six years. He returned to England to manage Chelsea in 2012/13.

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