Liverpool Football Club are a part of a very select group of clubs that can be considered European Super Powers. It was during the 70s and early 80s that Liverpool truly announced themselves on the European stage, winning the European Cup four times in seven years. In 2005, the Merseyside club etched its name into European and world soccer folklore with the incredible Miracle of Istanbul. But just before Liverpool won the European Cup/Champions League, they went in and won the UEFA Cup/Europa League. Now, Liverpool has the opportunity to win their fourth Europa League title on Wednesday when they play Sevilla, the defending two-time champions, in Basel. Today, though, let’s look at this illustrious club’s history in the UEFA Cup/Europa League Final. Because history shows that if Liverpool wins on Wednesday, it may lead to Champions League success in the future.
The UEFA Cup, now Europa League, may be considered the little brother to the European Cup, but that does not mean it is a Mickey Mouse Cup. Now, with the added bonus of Champions League qualification, it has become even more lucrative to take this competition seriously. That’s not how this competition has always been viewed, though. It was Liverpool’s first foray into European waters, water that they would not only traverse, but thrive in. Without the UEFA Cup, there might never have been a Roma 84 or the Miracle of Istanbul. It is for this reason that Liverpool have always had a special place for this competition. That, and the three times they’ve won it.
1973 – Liverpool 3-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
Until 1998, the UEFA Cup/Europa League was a two-legged Final. In the second ever Final, Liverpool went up 3-0 over Monchengladbach in the first match thanks to goals from Kevin Keegan and Larry Loyd. Also in the first leg, both teams had penalty kicks saved by keepers Ray Clemence and Wolfgang Kleff. Monchengladbach’s two goals in the second leg, courtesy of future Champions League-winning manager Jupp Heynckes, were not enough to win it as Bill Shankly’s men won their first European trophy. Shankly’s only European triumph.
1976 – Liverpool 4-3 Club Brugge
Liverpool played Club Brugge to not one, but two close matches. After Club Brugge scored two goals by Raoul Lambert and Julien Cools early in the first match, Liverpool scored three in six minutes starting in the 59th minute with Ray Kennedy, Jimmy Case and Kevin Keegan as Liverpool won 3-2. The second match saw two early goals, one from Raoul Lambert and the other from Kevin Keegan and Liverpool held on to win their second title.
2001 – Liverpool 5-4 Alaves
A thrilling tie that would come down to a golden goal via an own goal from Delfi Geli. Since there was only a short period of time when matches could end via golden goal, this 2001 Final was the only Final decided by a golden goal. With nothing to separate the two teams after 90 minutes, with both teams at four goals each (Markus Babbel, Steven Gerrard, Gary McAllister and Robbie Fowler for Liverpool; Ivan Alonso, two from Javi Moreno and another from Jordi Cruyff), extra time was being played out. As it appeared the match would go to penalties, the dreaded own goal from Geli was nodded past his own keeper in the 116th minute. Liverpool would win an unprecedented cup treble that season, winning the FA Cup and League Cup as well.