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“Embarrassed, angry, painful” – Xabi Alonso explains Liverpool’s Istanbul miracle


Xabi Alonso has recalled the humiliation in the Liverpool dressing room at half-time which spurred them on to perform the greatest Champions League final comeback in history.

The Reds found themselves 3-0 down to a star-studded AC Milan side as they walked down the tunnel at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in May 2005 with their tails between their legs.

But Liverpool emerged from the interval revitalised, and a flurry of three goals in six minutes drew them level by the hour mark.

Rafa Benitez’s side managed to hold on through extra-time before sealing victory on penalties to be named champions of Europe for the fifth time.

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The Reds staged a phenomenal comeback to take the game to penalties
The Reds staged a phenomenal comeback to take the game to penalties

There is one aspect of the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ which continues to spark debate between fans and even Liverpool players themselves : What happened in the dressing room at half-time?

Alonso opened up on his recollection of the interval on The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher podcast, with “embarrassment” and “anger” among his presiding memories.

“I was angry at myself, thinking ‘we can’t throw it away so easily, this is a beautiful chance’,” said the Spaniard.

Alonso was able to finish at the second time of asking after missing his spot kick
Alonso was able to finish at the second time of asking after missing his spot kick

Is Liverpool’s recovery against AC Milan the greatest comeback of all time? Have your say in the comments.

“I was kind of embarrassed with what we were doing. More than thinking about the others it was painful, that was first (how I felt).

“Later, Rafa changed. I thought ‘let’s see how this works’.

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“To hear the boos from the fans was important because they didn’t want to kill us but we thought ‘let’s try and give them something to believe’, try to have some hope.”

After a stunning header by Steven Gerrard and a long-range effort by Vladimir Smicer, Alonso found himself handed the ball for a penalty with Liverpool 3-2 down.

The midfielder was taking his first senior spot kick and although Dida saved his first effort, he was able to reach the rebound first to fire into the roof of the net.

Alonso added: “I ran the quickest five metres of my career! The reaction I had… I don’t know what went through my head!”

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