Liverpool lifted the FA Cup, Worthington Cup, and UEFA Cup in what will be remembered as Gerard Houllier’s most successful season at the club—and most dramatic.
This incredible treble was nine seasons ago now, so deserves eulogising in detail once more.
Liverpool kick-started their remarkable campaign of trophies with a penalty shootout victory over Birmingham City in the League Cup Final.
Robbie Fowler had given Liverpool a first-half lead, but despite appearing comfortable, Houllier’s team conceded an injury-time penalty, which Darren Purse scored to spark jubilation in the Birmingham end.
But taking Liverpool on at penalties is a sincerely dangerous game, and Birmingham found that out to their cost when both Martin Grainger and Andy Johnson missed in the shootout to gift the Reds victory.
Michael Owen was the hero in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal, scoring a dramatic late goal to hand Liverpool the trophy after he had previously equalised Freddie Ljungberg’s opener for the Gunners.
If anyone needs reminding of what Owen can do in front of goal with the World Cup looming next summer, this is the DVD you would show them; with Owen first reacting sharply in the box to slam home Gary McAllister’s free kick before outpacing Tony Adams and Lee Dixon and firing past David Seamen from an acute angle five minutes later. Sensational.
The UEFA Cup Final was just as dramatic. In a seesaw game against Alves, Liverpool prevailed 5-4 after extra time, in which Alves defender Delfi Geli scored in the wrong net to hand Houllier’s side the victory, with minutes to go before penalties. It may have been an own-goal, but it was a golden goal for Liverpool.
But Liverpool don’t do easy finals, and they four times allowed Alves to breach their defence, making for an extremely difficult evening in which Houllier’s team eventually managed to triumph dramatically. Again.