Roma win ranks among Liverpool's 10 most memorable Champions League nights
LIVERPOOL -- At one stage, it looked like Liverpool's encounter with Roma was going to go down as perhaps the club's best Champions League performance in the knockout stages.
That somewhat changed when Roma fought back late to lose the first leg "only" 5-2, but the atmosphere and Liverpool's display for large parts on Tuesday night still make it a memorable occasion.
ESPN FC ranks Liverpool's 10 best spectacles during the Champions League era (finals excluded).
1. Chelsea: Semifinal second leg at Anfield in 2005
It is the benchmark for every European occasion Liverpool host at Anfield. The 1-0 victory over Jose Mourinho's side, runaway Premier League champions that season, is still held up as Liverpool's best night in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. The atmosphere, Luis Garcia's ghost goal and Eidur Gudjohnsen's late miss in the second leg of this semifinal are still talked about in extensive detail to this day. After all, it put Liverpool in their first European Cup final in two decades.
2. Manchester City: Quarterfinal first leg at Anfield in 2018
Liverpool, particularly under Jurgen Klopp, fancy their chances against any side. So when they drew Pep Guardiola's league winners, Liverpool supporters still felt confident that their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane would be able to inflict damage. With the home crowd making the most of their first Champions League quarterfinal since 2009, City, regarded as the best team in Europe, couldn't handle Liverpool's intensity and were down 3-0 inside the opening 31 minutes. The result was a sign that Liverpool are becoming a force in Europe once again.
3. Chelsea: Semifinal second leg at Anfield in 2007
In the second installment of a Liverpool-Chelsea European Cup semifinal, Benitez's side needed to overturn a one-goal deficit from the first leg. A first-half goal from Daniel Agger squared the tie up before a tense affair had to be settled by a penalty shootout. Liverpool emerged 4-1 winners from the spot kicks, with Rafa Benitez later revealing that Liverpool had practiced penalties in every training session. "The first time 'round was special, but to do it again after being a goal down to a magnificent team like Chelsea is unbelievable," Gerrard said afterward.
4. Juventus: Quarterfinal second leg at the Stadio delle Alpi in 2005
Holding a 2-1 lead from the first leg, Liverpool's backs were up against the wall from minute one on the night. The Reds were without their influential captain, Steven Gerrard, who was suspended, while Xabi Alonso returned after a number of months out through injury. Liverpool showed their resilience to keep Juve at bay all throughout the 90 minutes. The game wasn't memorable itself, but the result was hugely significant for Rafael Benitez and his side.
5. Olympiakos: Final match in the group stages at Anfield in 2005
Without Gerrard's famous strike in this game, Liverpool's run to the Istanbul final would never have taken flight. Indeed, Liverpool found themselves 1-0 down in a must-win game, needing to score three goals to qualify for the knockout rounds. Strikes from Florent Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor gave Liverpool hope. Gerrard said in the buildup that he didn't want to wake up the following morning in the UEFA Cup, and the skipper stepped up with a long-range strike to put Liverpool through four minutes from time.
6. Barcelona: Round of 16 first leg at the Nou Camp in 2007
Liverpool still remain the last English side to have tasted victory at the Nou Camp. After Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise clashed at a training camp before the game, the pair, rather fittingly, both scored on the night in the 2-1 win after Deco had originally put the hosts in front. Alvaro Arbeloa, in his first start for Liverpool, kept a young Lionel Messi quiet on the night.
7. Real Madrid: Round of 16 second leg at Anfield in 2009
Liverpool made extremely light work of a team containing Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Fabio Cannavaro, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Raul and Gonzalo Higuaín, beating the Spanish side 4-0. "I know people in Spain think my teams do not attack," Benitez said after the game. "But look at this result and the 119 goals we scored last season." A good week for Liverpool fans got even better when they beat Manchester United 4-1 just a few days later.
8. Real Madrid: Round of 16 first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu in 2009
The 1-0 win at the home of the Spanish giants is even more impressive when you consider it was played in the backdrop of rumours swirling around that Benitez had been sacked before the game. Although Liverpool under the ownership of Tom Hicks and George Gillett was unhealthy and unstable, the claims turned out to be false, and Yossi Benayoun's leaping header eight minutes from time gave the Reds a first-leg advantage.
9. Roma: Semifinal first leg at Anfield in 2018
It seems strange that some Liverpool supporters walked away from Anfield on Tuesday with a tinge of disappointment and regret after winning the opening game of a last-four tie 5-2. But Liverpool's conceding two late goals to Roma means there's still plenty to play for back at the Stadio Olimpico next week. Regardless, Anfield witnessed some of the best attacking play it has ever seen in the opening 69 minutes, as Liverpool scored on five occasions. Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti's goals aside, this was a truly special night in Liverpool's European history.
10. Arsenal: Quarterfinal second leg at Anfield in 2008
Liverpool emerged the victors of this tie to set up the third semifinal with Chelsea within the space of four years, but their progression seemed to be in doubt for large parts against Arsene Wenger's side. An end-to-end 90 minutes had Liverpool staring down the barrel of elimination until Gerrard slammed home an 86th-minute penalty. Ryan Babel added another in injury time as Liverpool won 4-2 on the night. "I was delighted with the belief," Benitez said.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.