Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea: The Champions League Semi-Final Decided by the 'Ghost' Goal

Duncan Mitchell

​One we all remember, this. 

An all-English Champions League semi final at Anfield in 2005 was decided by a goal that, in this day and age, definitely wouldn't have stood. Had VAR been in place, we wouldn't be able to probably comprehend the phrase 'ghost goal'. 

On the evening of 3 May 2005, Luis Garcia's goal sent Liverpool to their first Champions League final in 20 years. 

The first leg at Stamford Bridge a week before had been a cagey affair and finished 0-0, meaning it was all to play for on Merseyside, and what followed was one of the most controversial openings to a match in recent history.

In the third minute, John Arne Riise cut in from the left and found Steven Gerrard, who played a first-time pass with the inside of his right boot. The pass fell perfectly for Milan Baroš, who knocked it over the onrushing Petr Cech and went down under the challenge from his international team-mate. Garcia was then left to add the decisive touch, despite William Gallas' attempts to clear off the line.

Chelsea's players and boss Jose Mourinho were absolutely convinced the ball had not crossed the line but with replays inconclusive and goal line technology not yet a thing, there was no definitive answer other than to trust the word of the officials. 

Referee Ľuboš Michel took the advice of his linesman and awarded Liverpool the goal. In any case, the foul by Cech on Baroš probably merited a penalty, so Chelsea may have found themselves a man down and facing a spot-kick anyway. But nevertheless, it turned the tie into a feisty and scrappy affair.

Chelsea pushed for the away goal which would send them through, with Frank Lampard and Eidur Guðjohnsen both missing chances from outside the box. Later in the second half, Chelsea kicked into gear and Jerzy Dudek saved well from Lampard and the excellent Jamie Carragher blocked substitute Arjen Robben's shot to keep the Blues at bay.

Guðjohnsen then missed the easiest of chances in the final minute of stoppage time and Liverpool sneaked into the Champions League final. 


Key Talking Point

Revenge and redemption. Liverpool had waited 20 years for a chance to lift European football's biggest prize and dumping out a rival that had the better of them for much of that season made it feel all the more special.

Chelsea, who were Premier League champions-elect, had beaten them in three of their previous meetings that season, including a dramatic 3-2 win in the League Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in February.

This felt like a significant dent in Jose Mourinho's first season at the Bridge and was a tactical two-leg masterclass from Benitez. By riding out and, at times, totally nullifying Chelsea's attacking counter threat in the first leg at the Bridge, Liverpool were well placed to control much of the ball on their home turf match and it paid off with a fast start which led to Chelsea's lapse at the back and Garcia's 'ghost goal.'

Liverpool Player Ratings

Starting XI: Dudek (7), Finnan (7), Hyypiä (7), Carragher (9)Traoré (8), Gerrard (6), Hamann (6), Riise (7), Bišćan (6), Garcia (7), Baroš (6).

Substitutes: Cissé (6), Kewell (6), Núñez (6) 

Jamie Carragher

Carragher produced another vintage display at the back for Liverpool as they remained resolute against a strong Chelsea attack. The local lad threw his body in front of everything; shots, opposition players, the ball - you name it, Carra was there.

Oh and he also man-marked Didier Drogba out of the game.

With midfield stalwart Xabi Alonso suspended for this leg, Liverpool needed someone to step up from defence to support the ageing Didi Hamann and skipper Gerrard in midfield, and Carra did just that with one of the best performances of his career. 


Key Talking Point

Too much, too soon perhaps? Chelsea had been the dominant force in domestic football all season, losing just one league match across the whole campaign (to that point) and recording a record number of clean sheets (25). ​

But their incredible run came to a screeching halt at Anfield. Mourinho played a very similar team for the majority of the season and the usual reliable players like Carvalho, Joe Cole and even Frank Lampard looked well below par and frankly fatigued. 

In the end, it came down to one early lapse of judgement at the back, where Chelsea had been so strong all year; and a lack of penetration upfront against a defence that was up for the fight. Knockout football is a cruel mistress. 

Chelsea Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cech (6), Geremi (6), Carvalho (5), Terry (6), Gallas (6), Tiago (6), Makélélé (6), Lampard (6), J Cole (5), Guðjohnsen (7), Drogba (5)

Substitutes: Kežman (5), Robben (6), Huth (5) 

Eidur Gudjohnsen 

Guðjohnsen was rare bright spark that night at Anfield. His movement was excellent and he had the most clear cut chances to get the crucial goal for the away side, including a last minute shot that whistled past the post. 

Things That Aged the Worst

That goal. 

The more you watch it, the more you think there's no way you can know whether it has gone in or not. 

Thankfully the introduction of goal line technology has meant that we have had very few instances like this in recent years. Liverpool will say they should have had a penalty anyway, but who knows how the tie might have turned out had it still been 0-0 after five minutes instead. 

Things That Aged the Best

Drogba. Plain and simple.

In his early days at Chelsea and particularly after this fixture, he was partially written off as a little inconsistent, stroppy and a bit of a drama queen. But boy did he develop his game over the coming seasons and become a truly world class forward.

His record against Liverpool also improved, ending up with 11 goals in 14 meetings with the Reds. 

Players You Completely Forgot Existed

Alongside the outstanding European players who played in this tie, there's also a catalogue of players who you may forget even played for these two teams. 

Liverpool had Igor Bišćan putting a solid defensive shift in, in the middle of the park as well as the likes of Vladimír Šmicer and young local midfielder John Welsh (who now plays for Atherton Collieries in the eighth tier of English football) on the bench. 

Chelsea's subs had the likes of Mikael Forssell and Nuno Morais as well as slightly better known Premier League journeymen Glen Johnson and of course Robert Huth, who certainly peaked later in his career (dilly ding, dilly dong). 

What Happened Next? ​

Liverpool went on to the final in Istanbul where they faced a rather exceptional AC Milan side.
​Milan went 3-0 up in the first half, thanks to two goals from future Chelsea striker Hernan Crespo.

Liverpool then staged one of the greatest comebacks in football history as goals from Gerrard, Šmicer (!) and Alonso levelled the tie. It eventually went to penalties, which Liverpool won in incredible fashion and the trophy was theirs. 

Chelsea did the domestic double by winning both the Premier League and League Cup and would go on to defend their league title the following season securing their spot among Europe's top clubs. European glory wouldn't come for another six years however.