“Was it a goal? That’s the question, isn’t it? I doubted for a moment … but I turned around and saw the judge run to his seat and just start screaming.”
– Luis Garcia
This will be Luis Garcia, aptly summarizing the mood of every Liverpool fan on the evening of May 3, 2005.
It was the Spanish striker who spoke to The Guardian about his most famous goal in Liverpool. But depending on who you trust, it wasn’t in fact purpose.
There will never be another European campaign like Liverpool in 2005.
The Istanbul miracle is one of the last great tales of football. A team that seemed out of place even competed in the Champions League, going all the way and conquering one of the best teams on the planet from a seemingly impossible position.
This is one of the most famous games in the modern history of Liverpool and at this time of year you can rarely escape the repetitions, accents, images and retrospective content of their amazing three-goal kickback against the unfortunate Milan.
But we rarely see much of the game that created it.
It is well known that Liverpool had to ride their luck to get to Istanbul, but they tend to fly under the radar that they did not actually get the ball in the back of the net at any point during their semifinal with Chelsea.
The first game at Stamford Bridge was a stalemate with 0: 0. The second, at an angry, bouncing Anfield, ended with 1: 0 for the hosts.
Luis Garcia was credited for the strike … but at no point did he actually enter.
Jose Mourinho’s screams were heard from the side when referee Lubos Michel signaled that a goal had been scored with five minutes on the clock.
After driving by John-Arne Riise, Steven Gerrard had experienced a tempting ball on the way to Milan Baros.
The Czech striker invaded beyond John Terry and with the end of Kop, who did everything possible to score the ball in the back of the net, he lifted it over his desperate compatriot Petr Cech, who flattened him in the process.
But before the referee could even consider awarding a penalty, Garcia was on her in a flash.
He forced him to the door and set off to celebrate … just as William Gallas seemed to remove him from the line.
Perhaps the immediacy of the celebration, met with an explosion in the flooding Kop, influenced Michelle’s decision.
But that didn’t matter. The goal was scored and Mourinho remained apoplectic on the sidelines.
Only with the benefit of repetition can we say with relative confidence that he has not crossed the line. At the time, she looked on edge and Garcia still claims to be so in fact enter.
If the referee decided not to score, he would certainly have to expel Cech for his role in stopping him. The guard had obstructed Baros and influenced his attempt to score; the right referee call could have been to stop the game there and give a foul.
But while Chelsea mourned the decision to this day, it was the charm of football before the VAR. It was ugly, sometimes unfair, but it led to one of the most magical and dramatic moments in the modern history of the Champions League. Garcia sent Liverpool to the final, where they will face the odds in the most unusual way imaginable.
He may not have been naked, but ask Luis Garcia if he cares.