Liverpool in Europe: Ruling in Rome, Dalglish the Wembley hero and the miracle of Istanbul

By Sports Desk May 10, 2020

Bill Shankly laid the foundations, yet it was Bob Paisley who started Liverpool's love affair with the European Cup.

Shankly's former assistant steered the Merseyside club to their maiden success in the competition, way back in 1977. Just 12 months later and they had made history at Wembley, becoming the first English team to retain the trophy.

There have been difficult moments in a complicated relationship since, but the tournament – now known as the Champions League of course – remains special to the Reds.

Take a trip down memory lane with a recap of the six occasions when Liverpool ruled the roost in Europe, starting with a famous Italian job...



Having won the UEFA Cup in 1975-76, Paisley's side went all the way in Europe's showpiece club tournament the following campaign.

The route to Rome was far from straightforward, though. Against both Trabzonspor and Saint-Etienne – the beaten finalists in 1976 – they had to overcome losing the first leg 1-0 on their travels, memorably beating the French side 3-1 on a famous night at Anfield to progress.

Borussia Monchengladbach were their opponents at the Stadio Olimpico in what was a repeat of the 1973 UEFA Cup final, the German side skippered by Berti Vogts and also including Jupp Heynckes.

Terry McDermott put Liverpool ahead and while Allan Simonsen levelled in the second half, goals from defensive duo Tommy Smith and Phil Neal, who converted from the penalty spot, secured a 3-1 triumph.


Liverpool had beaten Club Brugge to lift the UEFA Cup two years earlier, only this time their European Cup meeting was not over two legs.

The English club had once again beaten Monchengladbach in the competition, this time by a 4-2 aggregate scoreline in the last four, to secure a trip to the familiar surroundings of Wembley for the final.

Kevin Keegan had gone by this time but Paisley signed Kenny Dalglish as a replacement and the Scotsman was the hero against the Belgians, scoring the only goal of the game to give captain Emlyn Hughes the opportunity to once again lift the famous trophy.

A throughball from compatriot Graeme Souness allowed Dalglish to deftly lift a finish over the advancing Birger Jensen as the deadlock was broken just after the hour.


After failing to get beyond the first round in the previous two seasons, Paisley masterminded another triumph in 1981.

Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen were brushed aside to set up a semi-final clash with Bayern Munich. After a 0-0 draw at Anfield, Ray Kennedy's late strike secured a 1-1 result in the return fixture in Bavaria, a result good enough to see Liverpool progress on away goals.

Real Madrid awaited at the Parc des Princes, the Spanish heavyweights making their first appearance in the final of the tournament since 1966. A simmering contest rarely came to the boil, but was eventually settled in the 82nd minute.

Alan Kennedy – who had been an injury doubt beforehand – ran onto namesake Ray's throw-in down Liverpool's left flank and after evading one defender, fired the ball beyond Madrid goalkeeper Agustin Rodriguez from a tight angle.


Seven years after seeing off Monchengladbach in Rome, Liverpool - now under the guidance of Joe Fagan, promoted from within to replace the retired Paisley in 1983 - returned to the scene of their first European Cup success to face opponents with a distinct advantage.

Roma made it through to play in the final at their own ground in dramatic circumstances, overcoming a 2-0 first-leg deficit to eliminate Dundee United 3-2 on aggregate.

Phil Neal capitalised on a loose ball to put the Reds ahead early on against the Italians, only for Roberto Puzzo to equalise with a glancing header before the break.

With no further goals, even during extra time, penalties were required to decide the winners. Goalkeeper Bruce Grobbelaar's spaghetti legs trick seemingly worked to put off Francesco Graziani, allowing Alan Kennedy to slot in the winner as he once again delivered on the grandest stage.


Having endured a fright at home to Olympiacos, only making it out of the group phase thanks to Steven Gerrard's late wonder strike, Rafa Benitez's squad overcame Chelsea in an all-English semi-final due to what will forever be remembered as a 'ghost goal' from Luis Garcia.

They had impressively shut out Jose Mourinho's title winners twice to go through, yet were cut open by a ruthless Milan during the first 45 minutes of the final in Istanbul.

Hernan Crespo struck twice to give the Italians a commanding 3-0 lead after Paolo Maldini's first-minute opener, yet a half-time substitution and a change in formation resulted in a stunning turnaround. With experienced holding midfielder Dietmar Hamann on for full-back Steve Finnan, Liverpool scored three times in a six-minute spell to draw level – the talismanic Gerrard inspiring a fightback for the ages with his emphatic header.

Jerzy Dudek spectacularly denied Andriy Shevchenko in extra time and then did the same again in the shoot-out, following on from earlier misses by Serginho and Andrea Pirlo. Somehow, against all the odds, the Reds had prevailed.


Few saw Liverpool reaching a second successive Champions League final after they lost 3-0 away to Barcelona in the first leg of their last-four tie in 2019.

Yet despite being without Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah for the second meeting, Divock Origi – aided by a corner taken quickly – swept away the Spanish champions at Anfield, with Lionel Messi and company suffering an embarrassing 4-0 loss.

There were no such fireworks in Madrid, however, as a meeting with Premier League rivals Tottenham – who produced a stunning semi-final comeback of their own to knock out Ajax in Amsterdam – failed to live up to the hype.

Salah scored from the spot after Moussa Sissoko was adjudged to have handled inside the opening 30 seconds, while that man Origi cemented his cult-hero status with a late second off the bench. A year after losing to Real Madrid, Liverpool claimed the first trophy of Jurgen Klopp's reign in the Spanish capital.

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