Nobody quite does Champions League nights like Liverpool. The club’s rich tradition in the elite European competition has produced some of the most famous matches in English football history.
From the Miracle of Istanbul to last season’s sensational comeback against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final second leg, Liverpool have too many brilliant European nights to remember.
Which is perhaps why their 1-0 victory over Inter Milan at the San Siro in the second round in March 2008 is oddly forgotten. That game, settled by a brilliant Fernando Torres strike to make it 3-0 on aggregate, rarely gets ranked in lists of Liverpool’s greatest European performances, but perhaps it should.
So with the iconic old stadium set to be demolished, we've taken a look back at a classic Liverpool European victory...
Liverpool had won the Champions League in 2005 and reached the final again the season before their victory over Inter, so most people put Rafael Benitez’s side among the favourites to win a sixth European Cup.
Domestically, things were going pretty badly for the Spaniard. Liverpool won just 10 of their first 23 league games of the season, although they had recovered nicely with four wins on the bounce prior to the trip to Milan.
Inter were unbeaten at the San Siro in all competitions when they welcomed Liverpool, and manager Roberto Mancini was on the verge of winning a third successive Serie A title. Needless to say, Liverpool’s 2-0 first-leg success at Anfield, courtesy of late goals from Dirk Kuyt and Steven Gerrard, did not guarantee progress.
The story of the match
Liverpool made a shaky start and found themselves under the cosh throughout the first half, with goalkeeper Pepe Reina forced into a string of saves.
Inter’s best chance of the night came in the 29th minute when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, on a quiet night for him, played in Julio Cruz, only for the striker to fire wide with the goal gaping.
The visitors survived to the half-time break, and almost scored on a couple of counter-attacks, invariably led by an impeccable Fernando Torres at the peak of his powers. His powerful runs and close control caused a couple of panicky mistakes in the Inter defence.
The game turned in the 49th minute when Nicolas Burdisso was dismissed for a second yellow card... and within six minutes Liverpool had scored that vital away goal.
The goal, like the night itself, is a forgotten masterpiece.
Fabio Aurelio led a counter-attack down the left and clipped the ball into the Inter box for Torres, who took it down neatly with his right foot and, swivelling 180 degrees, lashed a shot into the bottom corner.
What happened next
Beating Inter at the San Siro was such a rare feat it instantly made Liverpool a front-runner for the cup. They beat Arsenal in the quarter-finals, drawing 1-1 at the Emirates before hammering Arsene Wenger’s side 4-2 at Anfield, but then lost to Chelsea in the semi-final.
Extra-time goals from Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba ended Benitez’s hopes of a third final in four years as Chelsea ran out 4-3 winners on aggregate. The manager stayed at Anfield for another two seasons, but didn’t reach the semi-finals again.
As for Inter, Mancini was so furious about the performance he resigned in his post-match press conference, only to retract his decision a few days later. The damage had been done, however, and his contract was terminated at the end of the season.