By News Team
13th May 2021
European competition has played a huge part in the history of some of the most successful English clubs to ever grace top-flight football.
Even clubs that have fallen from the Premier League have sparred with Europe’s elite and some, like Nottingham Forest, have gone all the way.
This month, we’re all set for a mammoth, all-English clash between Manchester City and Chelsea in the Champions League final, while Manchester United wave the Premier League flag in the Europa League final against Villarreal.
With such a strong outing from the English clubs this season, it’s a perfect time to look back at some of the best European finals this century that they’ve been involved in.
Liverpool 5-4 Alaves – UEFA Cup final (2001)
Liverpool met Alaves back in the 2001 UEFA Cup final and what a game it turned out to be. It was the third time that the Reds had appeared in the final of the competition, while it was the first European final for their Spanish underdog opponents.
The match took place in Borussia Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion and Liverpool started brightly, scoring twice inside 16 minutes thanks to strikes from Markus Babbel and Steven Gerrard. However, a bucketload of goals from both teams meant that the game eventually went into extra time tied at 4-4.
During extra-time, Alaves’ Delfí Geli managed to turn the ball into his own net, meaning that Liverpool had won this nine-goal thriller via the ‘golden goal’ rule. The victory also meant that the Reds had won the treble of the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup that season.
Liverpool 3-3 AC Milan (Liverpool won on penalties) – Champions League final (2005)
The Miracle of Istanbul. This is arguably one of the greatest Champions League finals in history and one which included one of the best comebacks in recent memory.
Liverpool were appearing in their sixth European Cup or Champions League final, their first since 1985, while AC Milan were participating in their second in three years. Widely regarded as favourites pre-match, Milan opened the scoring quickly and finished the first half with a 3-0 advantage. It looked to be as good as over for Liverpool.
An incredible spell of three goals in six minutes after the break, however, meant that Liverpool were somehow back in the game. The scores remained level until penalties, where Jerzy Dudek went on to be the Reds hero, saving Andriy Shevchenko’s penalty to complete the Miracle of Istanbul.
Manchester United 1-1 Chelsea (United won on penalties) – Champions League final (2008)
In what was the first all-English Champions League final in the competition’s history, Manchester United and Chelsea met in Russia as they aimed to be crowned champions of Europe.
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring for Manchester United early on, before Frank Lampard levelled proceedings for Chelsea. And after both teams failed to score the deciding goal as we entered into extra-time, one of the most famous penalty shoot-outs commenced.
Ronaldo missed his penalty which handed John Terry the opportunity to put the tie to bed and crown Chelsea European champions – but he stepped up and missed in spectacular fashion. Edwin van der Sar then went on to save Nicolas Anelka’s spot-kick, meaning that United had done it in the Moscow rain.
Chelsea 1-1 Bayern Munich (Chelsea won on penalties) – Champions League final (2012)
Chelsea travelled to the Allianz Arena to face the ‘home’ side Bayern Munich in the 2012 edition of the Champions League final with the odds firmly stacked against them. It was the first time that a team had ‘home’ advantage in the competition’s final since 1984.
The Blues, under Roberto Di Matteo, had failed to qualify for the Champions League in the regular Premier League season and needed to win the final to seal their qualification for the next season.
Bayern had control for most of the game and scored late on in the 83rd minute through Thomas Muller to sink the west London team. However, Chelsea equalised thanks to Didier Drogba in the 88th minute and saw the game out to penalties.
Chelsea missed their opening penalty but didn’t miss another, with Drogba being the hero once again and scoring their final spot-kick. The win meant that they had become the first London team to ever win the Champions League.
Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal – Europa League final (2019)
Chelsea and Arsenal made it a London derby for the Europa League final in 2019 in Baku, with Arsenal looking to break back into the Champions League under new manager, and Europa League specialist, Unai Emery.
However, it was hard viewing for Arsenal fans, as former striker Olivier Giroud opened the scoring for Chelsea before goals from Pedro and Eden Hazard saw them go 3-0 down. Alex Iwobi scored for the Gunners but any hopes of a comeback were dashed as Hazard scored again three minutes later in his final game for the club.
The Blues had got one over their London rivals in style and secured their second Europa League success in the process.