Where are they now? Liverpool’s XI knocked out of the CL by Benfica

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Liverpool's Steven Gerrard shows his dejection following defeat against Benfica at Anfield. Wednesday March 8, 2006.

Jurgen Klopp will be secretly delighted his Liverpool side were drawn to play against Benfica in this season’s Champions League quarter-finals. But the Reds should be mindful – they haven’t always enjoyed good fortune against the Portuguese outfit.

The two clubs last met in the Champions League at Anfield in 2006. Rafael Benitez’s men were tasked with overcoming a one-goal first-leg deficit in the last 16 tie.

But the Lisbon-based side emphatically knocked the then-reigning champions out, recording a 2-0 win on away turf.

The Merseysiders had some stellar names in their ranks on that March night, but Simao and co were just too good. We’ve taken a look at the Liverpool XI from that 2-0 defeat to see what they are up to now.

GK: Pepe Reina

Despite the defeat to Benfica, Reina’s debut campaign at Anfield did end as he was the star of Liverpool’s penalty shootout victory over West Ham United in the FA Cup final.

After cementing himself as an all-time great Liverpool goalkeeper, the 39-year-old moved to Napoli in 2013 before spells with AC Milan and Aston Villa. He’s now back in Serie A under Maurizio Sarri at Lazio in the twilight of a glistening career.

RB: Steve Finnan

The term “Steady Eddie” perfectly describes Finnan as a player for the Reds. He didn’t possess the long-range passing skills or assist-making abilities we now see from Trent Alexander-Arnold – few do – but his reliability made him a key asset for Benitez.

The former Republic of Ireland international has kept very much under the radar since his retirement in 2010, moving to London to run his own property development business.

But the company went into liquidation in 2020 and Finnan had to sell a variety of memorabilia including his 2005 Champions League winners medal.

CB: Jamie Carragher

Carragher’s most heroic Liverpool display came in the 2005 final win over AC Milan, powering on through the latter stages with cramp.

“I was never going to come off in a game of that magnitude. There was a European Cup at stake,” Carragher told the Liverpool Echo in 2015.

The former England international went on to become the club’s second-highest appearance maker before he retired in 2013 to take up a new role as a pundit. But the loss at the hands of Benfica must be up there with one of his most forgettable outings.

READ: Nine of the funniest moments of Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher’s bromance

CB: Djimi Traore

Due to an injury crisis in defence, Traore was moved from his usual left-back spot to fill in at centre-back against Benfica.

The defender wasn’t the most talented of individuals – a comical own goal he scored in an FA Cup tie at Turf Moor springs to mind – but he was a cult hero of the Kop nonetheless.

After being deemed surplus to requirements in the summer of 2006, Traore then had brief stints at  Charlton, Portsmouth, Rennes, Marseille and Monaco.

He ended a 17-year playing career in the MLS with Seattle Sounders in 2014 and then spent the next seven years working as their assistant coach.

LB: Stephen Warnock (Dietmar Hamann, ‘70)

The best days of Warnock’s career lay away from Anfield at Blackburn Rovers and Aston Villa. His impressive performances for Villa saw him selected as part of England’s 2010 World Cup squad – a tournament all England fans like to forget.

He saw out his playing career with a brief spell with Bradford City – the club where he made his senior debut in 2002. The 40-year-old is now a well-known face in the media, working as a pundit for the likes of BBC and SkySports.

Hamann enjoyed happier times at Anfield. He played for seven seasons in the Premier League and amassed over 200 appearances.

After a brief foray into coaching with MK Dons and Stockport County, he now works as a pundit and is also an ambassador for Liverpool.

RM: Luis Garcia

Garcia remains a darling of the Kop; he’s serenaded in the stands even now. His self-described “ghost goal” in the 2005 Champions League semi-final against Chelsea is also one of the most memorable goals scored in the competition’s history.

In 2022, we’re still none the wiser as to whether Willam Gallas cleared the ball before it crossed the line at a raucous Anfield.

The winger returned to his native Spain with Atletico Madrid and Racing Santander following his stint in England before eventually retiring at Australian side Central Coast Mariners in 2016.

Yes, he’s another pundit now.

READ: A tribute to Luis Garcia at Liverpool – and a connection you can’t fake

CM: Steven Gerrard

This match was one of the few times Gerrard couldn’t single-handedly inspire the Reds to victory on the big stage.

The midfielder bid an emotional farewell to his boyhood club in 2015 and turned to management after a brief stint playing for MLS side LA Galaxy.

After leading Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership title since 2011, he was appointed Aston Villa manager in November 2021.

CM: Xabi Alonso

It was under Benitez that Alonso first announced himself to the world as a top-class midfielder. The Kop favourite appeared 210 times for the Reds following his arrival from Real Sociedad in 2004, but he moved to European giants Real Madrid five years later.

The former Spain international continued to exclude class during his five years at the Bernabeu and then saw out his playing career with Bayern Munich. 

He’s currently building his managerial repertoire, having been in charge of Real Sociedad’s B team since 2019.

READ: 17 of the best quotes on Xabi Alonso: ‘It was clear he was royalty’

LM: Harry Kewell (Djibril Cisse, ‘63)

The former Australia international arrived at Anfield from Leeds United with huge expectations on his shoulders. But injuries largely hampered his chances to shine on Merseyside, and he was forced off in the 2005 Champions League final.

Since retiring, he’s been in charge of Crawley, Notts County, Oldham, and most recently Barnet, where he lasted just seven games before being sacked.

Kewell’s second-half replacement for the Benfica tie also failed to deliver what many anticipated he would when he arrived from French side Auxerre in 2004.

After leaving Liverpool, Cisse went on a worldwide tour with 12 different clubs before retiring at Greek side Panathinaikos Chicago in 2021. He’s now back at former club Marseille and is a youth coach.

ST: Fernando Morientes (Robbie Fowler, ‘70)

Morientes was signed by Benitez to fill the void left by Michael Owen. There was little doubt the forward, who had been a sensation at Real Madrid, would go on to succeed in England. How wrong we all were.

After struggling to settle into his new surroundings, the striker was soon back in Spain with Valencia and brought the curtain down on his career in 2015 as a 38-year-old.

He was then appointed manager of Spanish third-tier side CF Fuenlabrada but was sacked a few months later. He hasn’t returned to the dugout since.

Liverpool’s greatest ever goalscorer, Fowler returned to Liverpool for a second spell in January 2006 and retired in 2011 after spending the final years of his playing days in Australia. 

He then moved into coaching and has managed Muangthong United in Thailand, Brisbane Roar in Australia and East Bengal in India.

READ: Robbie Fowler’s return to Liverpool: A flawed but brilliant fairytale

ST: Peter Crouch

After Liverpool signed Fernando Torres, Crouch decided to leave Anfield and went on to play for Portsmouth, Tottenham, Stoke City and Burnley.

“I looked at it, I had to move on, it was gutting really because it’s only downhill from Liverpool in my opinion,” Crouch told BT Sport in 2020.

“I looked at it after and Torres ended up going to Chelsea and I thought, ‘What might have been?’, it ended up being one of my biggest regrets in my career because I felt what could have been if I had hung on a little bit more.

“I could’ve got games after Torres had left and there’s no better place to play than Liverpool, for me.”

Since retiring in 2019, he has forged a new career in the media and hosts one of the most popular sport-related podcasts in the UK. The 41-year-old also became a Director at Dulwich Hamlet in 2021.

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