The best ever European Cup finals
September 08, 2015
The Champions League, or European Cup as it was once known, is the most coveted cup competition in the world of football and remains the pinnacle of every player’s career. In its most recent guise, it may even have superseded the World Cup in terms of prestige while it is also extremely lucrative for the clubs that qualify. Most importantly, it has the distinction of having delivered some of the most spectacular matches and finals of all time, resulting in joy for some and sheer heartache for others.
The 3 Best European Cup Finals of Recent Times
It’s almost impossible to choose, but joing us as we take a look at three of the best European Cup and Champions League finals of the last 25 years…
Liverpool 3 AC Milan 3 (Istanbul, 2005)
At half-time during the 2005 Champions League final, AC Milan appeared to be on course for a simple victory after establishing a dominant 3-0 lead over Rafa Benitez’ Liverpool side. Two goals from Hernan Crespo and a strike by the evergreen Paolo Maldini had put the Italian side in control, but Steven Gerrard’s header early in the second-half sparked a frantic spell of three goals in seven minutes that earned the Reds parity. Cue a tense and keenly contested finale, which produced an incredible double save from Liverpool goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek to deny forward Andrey Shevchenko. The match ultimately went to penalties, where Dudek once again emerged as the hero to earn Liverpool a famous triumph.
Real Madrid 4 Atletico Madrid 1 (Lisbon, 2014)
While last years’ final was not necessarily dramatic in terms of the nature of the game, Real Madrid’s achievement in claiming ‘La Decima’ and winning a tenth European crown was certainly worthy of merit. After trailing to defender Diego Godin’s early goal for most of the game, Real finally equalised late on with a bullet header from centre-back Sergio Ramos. The stage was set for Real to attack a tiring Atletico, who had claimed their first La Liga title in 18 years just weeks before. Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and full-back Marcelo subsequently scored in extra-time, sealing an historic and prestigious night in the clubs’ history.
Manchester United 2 Bayern Munich 1 (Barcelona, 1999)
Arguably the most famous Champions League final, Bayern Munich appeared set for a deserved victory thanks to an early strike by Mario Basler. After scoring with a low free-kick, the Germans took control of the game and continued to threaten a second goal on the counter-attack as United pressed in the second half. The game seemed to be won as it entered stoppage time, before a dramatic close range strike by forward Teddy Sheringham levelled the scores and paved the way for extra-time. This was not to be the case, however, as substitute Ole Gunnar Solskjaer steered home a set-piece to win the game for Manchester United and provide the most dramatic finish of all-time in a major final.