posted on Dec, 8 2004 @ 04:33 PM
Liverpool staged a miracle comeback to beat Olympiakos 3-1 and qualify for the last 16 of the Champions League. Things looked bleak when they trailed
1-0 at half-time needing to win by two clear goals.
But three memorable strikes in a special second half ensured a fairytale finish for the Reds and a place among the elite in the knockout stages.
Liverpool almost got the perfect start when Milan Baros had the ball in the net after just two minutes. But referee Manuel Gonzalez ruled it out for a
push on the covering defender.
Three minutes later, an unmarked Sami Hyypia headed a Steven Gerrard corner inches wide of Antonios Nikopolidis' post as the Reds started the match in
top gear. Rivaldo eased the pressure on the Turkish defence when he won a free kick 35 yards from goal. But then he wasted the position with an
over-ambitious shot that flew high into the crowd.
Liverpool came even closer after 20 minutes when Gerrard's wickedly bending free kick was touched on by Baros' outstretched leg and flew against a
post before the Greeks hammered it clear. Minutes later Baros was inches away from turning in Xabi Alonso's low cross and Liverpool pressed
relentlessly for the crucial goal.
But totally against the run of play, Liverpool went behind after 26 minutes. Rivaldo slalomed his way past two tackles before being tripped by Hyypia
and the Brazilian World Cup winner stepped up to curl a 25-yard through a small gap in the wall and past a stranded Chris Kirkland.
Liverpool badly needed an early reponse in the second half and they got it from substitute Florent Sinama-Pongolle. Kewell did the ground work with a
foraging run to the byline and the French striker side-footed home the cut-back from six yards. Unlucky Baros was again responsible for a second goal
being disallowed just after the hour mark for illegal use of the arm in the build-up to Gerrard's firing past Nikopolidis.
Liverpool withdrew a tried Milan Baros and his replacement Neil Mellor set up a grandstand when he put Liverpool ahead nine minutes from time. Mellor
had a shout for a penalty and Kewell should have done better when Nikopolidis spilled a Gerrard cross. But Gerrad had the final word drilling a
stunning half-volley past Nikoplidis from 25 yards as time ticked away.