The latter stages of the Champions League are upon us with the quarter-finals being played out this week. One fixture which stood out for domestic fans was Chelsea vs Manchester United. United progressed to the semi-finals with a 3-1 aggregate scoreline and whenever English sides meet in Europe it adds an extra spark to the matches.
In recent years English dominance in the Champions League has seen a good number of all-England ties which have provided great excitement and drama, however in years gone by teams from England have met in other European competition and this week we’ll be taking a look at ten of the best all-English ties from the Inter Cities Fairs Cup through to the Champions League.
10: Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, 1973
The two English sides met in the 1973 UEFA Cup semi-finals, Tottenham having won the trophy the season before and Liverpool under the great Bill Shankly seeking a place in a final. The first leg at Anfield ended 1-0 to Liverpool leaving Tottenham with it all to do in the return at White Hart Lane. Martin Peters scored twice to put Spurs ahead on aggregate, but Steve Heighway’s 55th minute strike sent Liverpool through to the final on away goals. They went on to defeat Borussia Munchengladbach 3-2 on aggregate to become the second English team in as many years to win the UEFA Cup.
9: Chelsea v Liverpool 2005
The semi-finals of the 2005 Champions League pitted Chelsea against Liverpool. Jose Mourinho was in his first season as Chelsea boss, having won the competition with Porto the year before and Rafa Benitez was in his debut season as Liverpool manager after winning the 2004 UEFA Cup with Valencia. The first leg at Stamford Bridge ended 0-0 and a win for Liverpool in the second would put them through. After just four minutes Liverpool went in front after Petr Cech’s save from Milan Baros was poked toward goal by Luis Garcia. William Gallas’ goal-line clearance wasn’t enough as the ball was deemed to have crossed the line. Jose Mourinho’s claims the ball did not go in could not be conclusively proved by TV replays and Chelsea pressed for an equaliser throughout the rest of the game but couldn’t score and Liverpool were on their way to Istanbul for THAT final against AC Milan.
8: Liverpool v Leeds United 1971
In the semi-finals of the 1971 Inter Cities Fairs Cup Final (which was to become the UEFA Cup the following season) there was an all-English tie between Bill Shankly’s Liverpool and Don Revie’s Leeds United. The two sides were amongst the best England had to offer and there was little to separate them across the two legs. The first at Anfield finished 1-0 to Leeds thanks to a goal from Billy Bremner and a 0-0 draw at Elland Road in the return meant Leeds progressed to the final where they beat Juventus on away goals.
7: Manchester United v Arsenal 2009
The semi-finals of the Champions League two seasons ago saw two great rivals of English football meet. Arsenal and Manchester United were stalwarts in Europe’s premier competition but had never met in the tournament until this last 4 showdown. The first leg at Old Trafford ended 1-0 to United and in the return at the Emirates the Gunners were looking to overcome that defecit with home advantage. However it was as good as over after 11 minutes thanks to goals from Park Ji Sung and Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat Manuel Almunia from 40 yards with an incredible free-kick. In the second half United scored a third with a clinical breakaway goal finished with applom by Ronaldo, before Robin van Persie pulled back a consolation goal from the penalty spot.
6: Nottingham Forest v Liverpool 1978
Prior to the formation of the Champions League in 1992, the European Cup was just for league champions only and was a straight knock-out competition with no group stage. This meant two nations from the same country could meet as early as the first round which is exactly what happened in September 1978 as Nottingham Forest, champions of England a few months previously met Liverpool, who were current holders of the trophy.
Brian Clough’s Forest were underdogs going into the tie as it was their first season in Europe’s elite competition while Bob Paisley’s Liverpool had won the cup back-to-back for the last two years. Forest won the first leg at the City Ground 2-0, Garry Birtles putting them ahead 26 minutes in and in the 87th minute, Colin Barrett rounded off a good move to score a crucial second. Forest put in a rearguard performance in the second leg at Anfield to secure a 0-0 draw and progression to the second round. They knocked out the defending champions and themselves would go on to win the trophy two seasons running.
5. Chelsea v Arsenal 2004
The first time two English sides met in the Champions League and it was a tie to remember. Arsenal had a long unbeaten spell against their London rivals behind them and after a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of this quarter-final, it seemed as if the Gunners would progress. They took the lead during first-half injury time through a goal from Jose Antonio Reyes but an error from goalkeeper Jens Lehmann in the second period allowed Frank Lampard to equalise on the night. With the tie looking as if it would go to extra-time, Chelsea left-back Wayne Bridge combined superbly with Eidur Gudjohnsen and drilled a shot low past Lehmann to dump Arsenal out and send Chelsea into the last four.
4. Tottenham Hotspur v Wolverhampton Wanderers 1972
The first ever UEFA Cup final saw an all-English affair as Wolves and Spurs met across two legs, the first at Molineux. Two goals from Martin Chilvers saw Spurs win 2-1 but Jim McCalliog’s strike for Wolves meant they still had a chance at White Hart Lane. Tottenham made home advantage count early on as Alan Mullery’s header put them 1-0 up on the night and 3-1 ahead on aggregate. A rasping drive from Dave Wagstaffe gave Wolves hope but Tottenham held on for a 3-2 aggregate win to claim the inaugral UEFA Cup after an entertaining 180 minutes of football.
3: Arsenal v Liverpool 2008
A thrilling Champions League tie. In the last 16 Liverpool, runners-up the season before were drawn against Arsenal, still harbouring hopes of a first Champions League win following their final defeat in 2006. The first leg at the Enirates ended in a 1-1 draw and that was the first of three matches between the two sides in six days but they saved the best until last. The second leg at a typically buoyant Anfield was a truly memorable game, Abou Diaby fired Arsenal in front after some fine passing opened up Liverpool. Sami Hyypia equalised with a header to level the tie, before Fernando Torres’ scored in the second half to put Liverpool 2-1 up.
Arsene Wenger threw Theo Walcott on and after a Liverpool attack broke down it was his searing pace which took him on a 70 yard run leaving Liverpool defenders chasing shadows. He squared the ball across the penalty area for Emmanuel Adebayor to slot the ball under Pepe Reina to make it 2-2 and with seven minutes remaining of normal time it seemed as if the Gunners would progress on away goals. However Liverpool went up the other end and instantly won a penalty as Ryan Babel fell in the penalty area. Captain Steven Gerrard placed it high into the net to relieve all around Anfield before Babel himself added a fourth late on with Arsenal pressing for an equaliser. One of the great Champions League ties of recent years.
2: Chelsea v Liverpool 2009
The third time in four years these two met in the knockout rounds of the Champions League. Liverpool had won the previous two semi-finals, with the 1-0 victory in 2005 and victory on penalties in 2007 so Chelsea had scores to settle ahead of this quarter-final tie. They won the first leg at Anfield 3-1 thanks to two headers from Branislav Ivanovic and Liverpool had a mountain to climb in the return leg at Stamford Bridge.
An inspired freekick from Fabio Aurelio and a Xabi Alonso penalty levelled the aggregate scores at 3-3 and it seemed as if they may just pull it off. However in the second half a Pepe Reina own goal, an outstanding freekick from Alex and a composed finish from Frank Lampard made it 3-2 to Chelsea on the night, 6-3 on aggregate. Liverpool weren’t finished through and a deflected shot from Lucas plus Dirk Kuyt’s close range header meant that with seven minutes to go, Liverpool needed one goal to progress. Fortunately for Chelsea Frank Lampard netted his second goal to secure a 7-5 aggregate win and a semi-final against Barcelona, but what a match.
1: Manchester United v Chelsea 2008
The peak of English dominance in the Champions League saw the first ever all-English final in 2008 as Manchester United met Chelsea at the Luzhinki Stadium in Moscow. The highly anticipated encounter did not disappoint. Cristiano Ronaldo gave United the lead with a header early on before Frank Lampard levelled matters before half-time. Chelsea hit the woodwork twice through Lampard and Didier Drogba as the match went into extra-time. Drogba however received his marching orders in extra-time for slapping Nemanja Vidic but United couldn’t capitalise and the game went to penalty kicks. Cristiano Ronaldo missed his for United whilst everyone else from both sides scored theirs, meaning Chelsea captain John Terry stepped up to try and win the Champions League for the Blues. As he struck the ball his standing foot slipped on the wet turf and the ball agonisingly smacked off the post with Edwin van der Sar diving the wrong way. Anderson, Salomon Kalou and Ryan Giggs all scored but Nicolas Anelka’s kick was saved by van der Sar to win the cup for United in dramatic circumstances. John Terry was in tears as jubilant United fans and players celebrated their triumph, the second Champions League title of Sir Alex Ferguson’s reign.