Liverpool are renowned for their European nights and their emphatic 4-0 triumph against Real Madrid back in 2009 will live long in the memory.
Steven Gerrard was the driving force behind Liverpool at the time and we couldn’t help but revisit his iconic performance against the Spanish outfit.
Liverpool had won the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu as Yossi Benayoun’s second-half strike had given them a lead to take back to Anfield.
The context surrounding each side at the time was fascinating. Real Madrid were second to Barcelona in La Liga and Liverpool were similarly trailing Manchester United. It was worth going all out for European success.
Gerrard had only recently recovered from an injury and only managed to play a cameo role during the first leg of the tie in Spain. Having rested up for the second leg, he was more motivated than ever to deliver.
The Liverpool captain started the night in the number 10 role behind Fernando Torres, with Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano sitting behind him to complete Liverpool’s midfield trio.
It was the Spanish forward who gave Liverpool the lead after a mere 16 minutes had been played and the momentum massively swang in Liverpool’s favour.
Gerrard put Liverpool 2-0 up before half time with a well-taken penalty, although the Reds could have been out of sight at this point. Iker Casillas was arguably the best keeper in the world at this stage and boy did he prove it.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) March 19, 2021
Rafael Benitez’s side didn’t let up in the second half as Gerrard latched onto Ryan Babel’s cross with a fine volley. Having missed most of the previous leg, this was the moment he had been waiting for.
In front of the Kop, to put Liverpool 4-0 ahead on aggregate, volleys don’t come much sweeter than that. It was only right that this Gerrard masterclass happened to be his 100th European game for Liverpool.
Andrea Dossena put the cherry on top for the Reds as his strike put the Reds 4-0 up on the night. Anfield nights are known to be special, but this was one of a kind.
Having already done enough damage, Gerrard was withdrawn from the game in the 73rd minute to a roaring standing ovation. Gerrard himself even revealed that Raul tried to tap him up to get him to sign for Madrid.
“Would there be any chance you would play for Madrid?” The Spanish striker reportedly said as he was left stunned by Gerrard’s devastating performance.
Gerrard himself had spearheaded Liverpool’s demolition of Real Madrid and he made light work of getting past the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Lassana Diarra.
When Raul tried to convince Steven Gerrard to join Real Madrid. pic.twitter.com/7uGiUo7PVO
— Sky Sports Retro (@SkySportsRetro) February 20, 2023
Liverpool’s 5-0 triumph on aggregate would then serve as the catalyst for a new era at Real Madrid. The club grew tired of their early European exits and so they built an entirely new team the next season.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka were among the stars they signed that summer and who knows what might have happened if they did indeed pursue a move for Gerrard.
After the triumph, in typical Benitez fashion, he didn’t want to flag up players for individual praise, but instead, he recognised the team effort.
“Fernando and Stevie played very well, but I don’t like to talk too much about just one player,” the manager told reporters. “The whole team – every player and all the staff, from the doctors and the coaches to the physios – everyone was very good. I thought we did very well for the fans.”
Gerrard himself hailed the team spirit of Liverpool adding: “We got the job done in the first 30 minutes tonight when I thought we were awesome.
“The second half was about seeing it out and fortunately we were able to score a couple more goals. We’re all really pleased. It was important to win and book our place in the last eight. It was a fantastic team performance tonight.”
Liverpool’s confidence was sky-high after their European triumph as just four days later they did a similar demolition job at Old Trafford. Gerrard starred once again as the Reds took down Manchester United 4-1 in the Premier League.
In his prime, the Liverpool captain was like no other. Capable of winning crunch European ties on his own, there will never be another quite like Gerrard.