Anniversary of Liverpool's Real Madrid Feat Leaves Champions League Cravings

Max MuntonLiverpool CorrespondentMarch 11, 2014

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard, right, reacts after scoring his second goal during their Champions League second round, second leg, soccer match against Real Madrid at Anfield Stadium, Liverpool, England, Tuesday, March 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Paul Thomas)
PAUL THOMAS/Associated Press

Five years ago this week, Liverpool marvelled in one of their most recent great European triumphs, beating Real Madrid 4-0 at Anfield.

The Champions League first knock-out round, which completed a 5-0 rout of Los Blancos over the tie, on Tuesday, 10th March 2009, would turn out to be a significant moment in the recent history of the club.

PAUL THOMAS/Associated Press

Rafa Benitez’s men crashed out of the Champions League in the quarter-final stage to Chelsea and finished second in the Premier League.

It was to be the last positive and exciting season until 2013/14 for Liverpool Football Club, and the rout over Real is still one of the last abiding memories of several thrilling seasons of Champions League football under Benitez.

Liverpool went into the game leading 1-0 thanks to a Yossi Benayoun header two weeks earlier.

The stage was set for the magic that followed. The Kop in full flow, the flags out, the sea of red and the Anfield roar. Everything that encapsulates those famous European nights in L4.

Liverpool’s squad that day was an enigma. What quality in Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres, Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano, what hope in Ryan Babel, Jay Spearing and David N’Gog.

JON SUPER/Associated Press

Few players remain today, with only Gerrard, Martin Kelly, Martin Skrtel and Pepe Reina still on the books under Brendan Rodgers.

Torres toe-poked home Dirk Kuyt’s low cross on the counter-attack for Liverpool’s first of the game after 16 minutes, before Gerrard calmly dispatched a penalty 12 minutes later to give Liverpool a 2-0 lead at half-time. 

Gerrard added a third just after the restart, expertly converting Ryan Babel’s cross from the left past the hapless Iker Casillas.

Substitute Andrea Dossena was the unlikely hero to slot away the fourth of the game in front of the Kop as the clock ticked down.

Kevin McCarra of The Guardian wrote: 

Liverpool were free of any dilemma, although outsiders would have debated whether it was folly to take risks by committing themselves to attack when they could afford to be prudent. The result at the Bernabeu had made themselves certain of finishing off a team they knew to be vulnerable. This was an assertiveness not normally associated with Benítez but the manager had made no mistake in diagnosing incompetence in the Real ranks.

Henry Winter of The Telegraph was also in awe:

Such was Gerrard’s impact that Real’s captain, Raul, jogged across to shake his hand as he left the game early, being replaced by the youngster Jay Spearing. After the skewering, the Spearing. When Andrea Dossena added a late fourth, the heart really went out to Real’s keeper, Iker Casillas, who had prevented double figures yet left the field in tears, a victim of Liverpool’s brilliance.

An incredible European night and an incredible performance from Benitez’s rampant Reds, beating Real’s all-star line-up. 

Liverpool fans are relishing the opportunity to scalp the giants of Europe once again, should Rodgers lead the Reds back to Champions League football next season.