Jesper Gronkjaer scored the winning goal for Chelsea in a game against Liverpool on the last day of the season. This not only secured Chelsea a place in the Champions League the following season, but would have bigger implications for the club’s history. More of that shortly.
Chelsea and Liverpool both had a chance of securing the last Champions League spot ahead of the last game of the season. There was still a UEFA Cup place for the team that was missing, but with a £ 20million bonus to reach the Champions League there was a real financial incentive for both clubs.
The two teams were tied on points before the game. However, Chelsea had a better goal difference (+30 compared to Liverpool’s +20) meaning the visitors had to win. A draw or a win would give Chelsea fourth place.
Liverpool took the lead after x minutes with Finnish defender Sami Hyypia jumping higher to nod on a free kick from Danny Murphy.
Marcel Desailly equalized x minutes later with a header on a cross from Jesper Gronkjaer. The Dane went from supplier to scorer in the x minute.
In the x minute, Mario Melchiot took a wide throw-in on the right wing. Eidur Gudjohnsson returned the ball straight to Melchiot who played a first ball to Grokjaer, who was standing just outside Liverpool’s penalty area.
The Dane managed to pass Liverpool defender Jon Arne Riise and hit a curling effort to the far corner as Salif Diao rushed to challenge him.
The ball curled around Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek and into the back of the net. Chelsea fans who were in the stands at Stamford Bridge roared with joy. Little did they know that the goal would have on their club and English football.
Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich was looking to buy a football club in the summer of 2003. Rumor has it that he narrowed his picks to three clubs – Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Because Chelsea were in the Champions League, he decided to buy the Stamford Bridge club. He has injected hundreds of millions of pounds into the club over the past eighteen years which has helped win many trophies at the club.
Money became more of an issue as other clubs desperately tried to keep pace with Chelsea. Manchester City would later be taken over by another billionaire and the money involved in the game was a game-changer.