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Wednesday, June 03, 2020

On This Day: Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ spooks Chelsea in Champions League semis

Luis Garcia's fourth-minute finish at Anfield was the deciding goal in the tie as Liverpool won the semi-final 1-0 on aggregate against Chelsea and booked their tickets for Istanbul.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: May 3, 2020 3:57:55 pm
Luis Garcia celebrates after scoring the ‘ghost goal’ on May 2, 2005. (Source: Twitter/@ChampionsLeague)

Liverpool fans still rejoice it, Jose Mourinho still fumes about it despite the fact that Luis Garcia’s ‘ghost goal’ against Chelsea in the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League semi-final happened exactly 15 years ago on this day.

After defeating Juventus in the quarter-finals of the competition, Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool went to Stamford Bridge for the first-leg of their semi-final. The scoreline in London remained 0-0. Liverpool welcomed Chelsea to Anfield on May 3, 2005, and went on to win the tie via a dubious refereeing decision, which made Mourinho indicate in the post-match interview that the “the linesman scored the goal”.

After a fine passage of play early on in the game, when Steven Gerrard hooked it above the Chelsea midfield to their penalty box, Luis Garcia was first to poke the ball towards the net after Milan Baros had collided with visiting goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Although Chelsea’s William Gallas cleared it from the goal line, the referee, Lubos Michel, decided that a goal had been scored. The Spaniard’s fourth-minute finish ultimately became the deciding goal as Liverpool won the semi-final 1-0 on aggregate and booked their tickets for the final.

Speaking to The Guardian, Luis Garcia had later said about the ‘ghost goal’, “For me, it was [a goal] and the referee gave it so. If I am being honest, I remember the feeling of hitting the ball and when I saw the bounce going up, I turned away and celebrated.”

“I started doubting for a moment because for two seconds none of my team-mates were close and I started thinking: ‘Oh my goodness, maybe it wasn’t.’ But I turned around and saw the referee and the linesman running back into position and just started screaming.”

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“We can say: ‘If this’, ‘if that’. But the goal was given. If not it would have been a penalty and a red card, so we don’t know if it was better what happened or not,” the UEFA Champions League winner added.

After the controversial win against Chelsea, Liverpool lifted their fifth European Cup in Istanbul on May 25, 2005, after beating AC Milan on penalties despite trailing by three goals at half-time.

Garcia, now 41, hanged up his boots in 2016 after a fine career that, as well as Liverpool, also included spells at Atlético Madrid (twice), Barcelona, and even Atletico de Kolkata, where he won the Indian Super League (ISL) in 2014.

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