The Champions League competition is the highest competition in the Europe. All clubs and players certainly have a high desire to be able to lift the "big ear" trophy. There is almost a change of club that wins the competition every year when the new format is applied. It is noted that only Real Madrid can win this competition in a row even three times in a row. Of course this indicates that the Champions League is the most prestigious competition in which every club strives to win this title. The journey to win the trophy is not easy because every club must be able to qualify in the group stage and pass the knockout stage to advance to the final. Here are five Champions League finals that are most remembered by all football fans in the world.
One Night In Istanbul (2005)
Everyone would agree that the Champions League final at Istanbul in 2005 was the best final to date. "One Night in Istanbul" is what people call for this final. For Liverpool fans, it was a shocking match and full of magic on the night. However, when the first half was over, the Reds had to fall behind 3-0 to AC Milan. Of course, this score is not understandable for a Champions League final. Everyone probably thought that Milan had been confirmed as UCL champions that year.
However, when the first half break was over, Liverpool returned to the pitch with the support of the fans behind them and expected a change. Rafael Benitez, the Reds coach at the time, made changes in the defensive line by using three defenders. As a result, as you know, Liverpool were able to level the match at 3-3 and make the game go on to extra-time. In extra time, no team could break the deadlock so the game had to go on a penalty shootout. Liverpool goalkeeper that time, Jerzy Dudek pulled away with penalties from Pirlo and Shevchenko and gave Liverpool a fifth European title.
Solskjaer's Magic Goal (1999)
When we ask which Champions League final is the most dramatic, perhaps some of us agree that the 1999 UCL final between United and Munich was the answer for that question. Around 90,000 spectators at the time thought that Munich would come out as champions in that match. As you know, Munich managed to lead 1-0 to the 90s and it took only a few minutes to ensure they were champions. Munich took the lead in the 6th minute with a free-kick from Mario Balser. With that situation, there is no other option for United to put pressure on them constantly in the hope of equalizing.
However, their efforts never came to fruition during the normal 90 minutes of time. At that time the game was given an extra 3 minutes and during injury time, United got a corner. The shock began when a shot executed by Beckham caused a trouble in front of the Munich goal where a shot from Ryan Giggs was not perfect and instead went right to Sheringham who then converted into a goal. Not getting there, before the final whistle, United again got a corner and Beckham become the executor again until the last surprise came when Solskjaer suddenly deflected the ball and made it a goal while ensuring victory for them.
It's Not Over Yet (2014)
For football fans especially Real Madrid supporters, the 92:48 minute is a time that will never be forgotten. The minute that saved El Real from defeat in the 2014 UCL final. At that time, the two city teams were reunited in the final round of UCL in 2014. Both teams have their own ambitions in the match. Atletico are on a mission to win a first UCL trophy and Real Madrid are looking to end the UCL title race since they last won in 2002. Atletico took the lead in the first half through a goal scored by Diego Godin. That lead lasted until the 90s in normal time.
Their players, staff and coach, Diego Simeone are anxious for the game to come to an end so they can be assured of becoming UCL champions for the first time. However, the catastrophe came when injury time arrived. At 92:48, Sergio Ramos broke the Atletico Madrid player's hopes with a goal scored with his header. Of course, this goal drained the physical and mentality of the Atletico players, especially as they were unable to make the substitutions for extra-time. This situation put El Real on a paper where during extra-time they could take over the game. As a result, the next three goals were scored against Atletico and made Real Madrid win La Decima or their tenth UCL title.
Unexpected Winner (2013)
The 2012 UCL Final brought together two teams whose conditions were fighting each other for the title that season. Chelsea's journey to get to the final was not easy especially that season Chelsea only finished 6th in the Premier League. Even before that, there was a change of coach in which Andres Villas-Boas was replaced by caretaker, Roberto Di Matteo. As for Munich, they failed to win the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal that season, so they have a mission to win the UCL title. Although in almost the same condition but gamely, Bayern Munich are favored in that match, especially the UCL final is held at their home, the Allianz Arena.
In that match, Chelsea preferred to defend by not giving free space to the Munich players. Unfortunately, the strategy was not enough to hold off Munich because in the 83rd minute, Thomas Muller managed to score with his header. The condition certainly disturbed the mentality of Chelsea players especially when they rarely had a chance to score. However, Drogba equalized the score in 88th minute with a corner from Juan Mata and made the game go to extra-time.
The drama began when Munich were awarded a penalty in the 105th minute. Of course this caused concern for the Chelsea players but the experienced from Chelsea goalkeeper that time, Petr Cech was able to make a save from a penalty executed by Robben and force the game to continue into the penalty shootout. Chelsea's hopes of becoming champions began to come when Schweinsteiger failed to execute a penalty. Drogba, who was the decisive executor at the time, made Munich players down after his shot was unable to be guessed by Neuer and ensured Chelsea to win their first UCL trophy.
Rain In Moscow (2008)
Some of us may remember this UCL final at the moment John Terry slipped while executing a penalty kick. No one is seeded in this match because the quality of players from both teams is quite balanced with the great names in it. This match took place quite tough where both teams played attacking, causing the crowd at that time to worry about their beloved team if conceded.
In the 26th minute, Cristiano Ronaldo scored with his header. Of course, this makes Chelsea more daring to appear open in order to open the goal tap. As a result, shortly before half-time, Lampard managed to equalize from a vomiting ball situation. Entering the second half, the intensity of the game from both teams was still high. Several times Chelsea had chances but the goals they were looking for were still not on their side. As a result, the match resumed in overtime.
Both teams still play attacking each other to increase the advantage for their respective teams but the score is not changed at all. Towards the end of the match, there was a commotion between Drogba and Vidic that led to the referee giving a red card to Drogba. However, that did not change the situation of the match and forced the match to resume in the penalty shootout.
Cristiano was the only player to fail to kick a penalty from United's first five executioners, making an advantage for Chelsea, whose decisive kicking was taken by their captain, John Terry. Chelsea should have been champions if John Terry had not failed to execute his penalty. Things turned around when Anelka's shot was blocked by Van Der Sar and ensured victory for United.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 Farhan Saidi
Andrea Sciambarella from Manchester, UK on March 12, 2021:
It's tough to beat the 2005 final. There's been some amazing finals over the years and you've highlighted some great ones. I'd give an honorable mention to Inter Milan's win in 2010... a Mourinho masterclass.