Ahead of Liverpool’s trip to Camp Nou on Wednesday night to take on Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League, we recall five great nights in Spain for the Reds…
Beating Cruyff and Barca at Camp Nou – March 30, 1976
Liverpool were paired with Barcelona in the semi-final of the UEFA Cup in 1976, and the Catalan giants were overwhelming favourites to reach the final as they paraded the great Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens. With 70,000 packed into Camp Nou, the home supporters fell silent on 13 minutes when John Toshack pounced to net a vital goal. The Reds produced a vintage European away display as they came away with a win and, more importantly, a clean sheet. After a 1-1 draw in the second leg at Anfield, Bob Paisley’s charges had made the final.
Yossi stuns Real Madrid at the Bernabeu – February 25, 2009
Before his arrival at Anfield, Rafael Benitez had taken Valencia to the La Liga title twice at the expense of Real Madrid and Barcelona, and he was at it again with the Reds back in his homeland. In previous seasons Benitez had guided his team to wins at Camp Nou and the San Siro – and the hat-trick duly arrived at the other great footballing cathedral that is the Santiago Bernabeu. With the score goalless in Madrid, Fabio Aurelio curled in a free-kick which was met by a wonderful header from Yossi Benayoun, and Kopites were once again in dreamland with a priceless 1-0 victory in the first leg of the Champions League knockout tie.
Rush sinks Bilbao in Spain – November 2, 1983
En route to winning the European Cup and securing the treble in 1984, Joe Fagan’s side faced a tricky second-round clash with Athletic Bilbao. After a goalless draw in the first leg at Anfield, the Spanish outfit were deemed favourites to beat the mighty Reds on their home turf, the San Mames Stadium. With the self-proclaimed ‘Butcher of Bilbao’ Andoni Goikoetxea in their ranks, they were a formidable outfit. However, with Graeme Souness running the show in midfield, the ‘Butcher’ was nullified. It took one goal to send the Reds through and it was a real collector’s item for Ian Rush. By his own admission, headed goals were not a speciality for the prolific Welshman, but that notion briefly went out of the window when Rush powered home a wonderful 66th-minute header to seal a 1-0 win.
Bellamy inspires Reds to another win at Camp Nou – February 21, 2007
Craig Bellamy and John Arne Riise inspired another Liverpool win over Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2007. Despite going a goal down to a 14th-minute effort from Deco in the Champions League knockout phase, the Reds responded when Bellamy levelled the score just before the break. The Welsh star then turned provider for Riise to drill home a superb winner and, although Barcelona claimed a 1-0 result at Anfield in the second leg, the Reds went through on away goals.
Igor inspires crucial CL win in Deportivo – November 3, 2004
During the road to Istanbul, the Reds produced a brilliant display to beat Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor. Benitez’s Reds gave their hopes of reaching the Champions League knockout phase a massive boost with a crucial 1-0 win. Going into the game the manager had suffered a blow with the news that playmaker Xabi Alonso was ruled out through injury, but he put faith in Igor Biscan and the Croatia international didn’t disappoint. Biscan was an inspirational figure as Jorge Andrade’s own goal after 13 minutes was enough to secure Benitez a winning return to Spain.