Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid: The Real Kings of Europe Have Been Crowned
"We won it five times
We won it five times
We won it five times"
The above chant can be heard during almost every game played at Anfield, be it a European night, a League match, or a pre-season friendly.
The chant, of course, refers to Liverpool's fifth success in the Champions League, or European Cup as it was formerly known, and is the fans way of reminding opponents that Liverpool are one of the most successful clubs in European football history.
Not many clubs can top those achievements in Europe, one such club is Real Madrid, whom the Reds came up against in the second leg of the Champions League second round tonight.
Liverpool may have been the most successful English side in the competition's history, but Real Madrid were the most successful side. For every chant of "We won it five times," they could reply with "We won it five times, in a row!"
It promised to be a special night even before the first whistle went, and by the final whistle, no-one was in any doubt that they had just seen one of the great Anfield European nights.
In a battle between two clubs who could stake a claim to being the Kings of Europe, it was Liverpool who were crowned at the end of the night, and in emphatic style.
Despite Real Madrid being the team that needed a goal, it was Liverpool who started much the stronger, with Fernando Torres running rings around Fabio Cannavaro and Pepe. After 15 minutes, only Iker Casillas' heroics had kept Madrid in the tie.
But even he couldn't prevent the first goal coming on the 16 minute mark after some woeful defending by those in front of him. Lassana Diarra let the ball bounce, and Pepe failed to deal with it, leaving Dirk Kuyt looking into the eyes of Casillas. A simple pass to his left found Fernando Torres, who stroked the ball home into the empty net.
The next goal came 12 minutes later when Gabriel Heinze was penalised for a handball and Steven Gerrard, making his 100th European appearance, cooly slotted away the penalty. As it turned out, the ball struck Heinze on his shoulder, leaving Madrid feeling hard done by.
Liverpool continued to dominate and outclass their opponents for the remainder of the half, with Torres, Gerrard, and Mascherano in particular having magnificent games.
The main question was whether Benitez would order his team to sit back and defend the 3-0 aggregate lead, or push on to make a statement. Despite all the claims of his side being "defensive," he chose the latter.
The rewards were clear to see just two minutes into the second half as Ryan Babel delivered a cross which Steven Gerrard finished with immense quality to make it 3-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate.
After that, Liverpool took their foot off the pedal, and could afford to have one eye on Manchester United at the weekend. Even after Gerrard, Torres, and Xabi Alonso had been replaced, however, Liverpool still looked a better team than Real Madrid on the night, perhaps answering the criticisms over lack of depth.
It was Andrea Dossena who wrapped up the scoring on 88 minutes, giving Liverpool a famous victory that will be talked about for years.
After the first leg, I mentioned that I thought the result was just paving over the cracks that were starting to emerge. I mentioned that the headlines the next day wouldn't be about the result on the pitch, but the ongoing saga off it.
Tomorrow, however, the Liverpool players have ensured the back pages will be all about Liverpool's historic victory and, perhaps just as importantly, their magnificent performance.
It is the best I can remember Liverpool playing in recent times. In fact, the only match I can recall in which Liverpool played as well as they did tonight, including finishing their chances, was the 8-0 demolition of Besiktas a year and a half ago and, considering the level of opposition this time, I would suggest this performance is just as impressive.
It was Real Madrid's biggest ever Champions League defeat, thanks in no small part to their old nemesis Fernando Torres, who looked to be back to his very best.
After tonight's performance, it will take a brave man to bet against the current Kings of Europe regaining their throne in Rome.
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