The Slovakian referee's whistle and triumphant Kop signalled the start of the biggest party at Anfield since the last league title. When Liverpool last prepared for what proved a notorious European Cup Final, whowould have predicted the two decades which would follow? Managerial upheaval, wasted millions, decline in status at home and abroad, humiliating cup exits and a 14-year championship drought. For older supporters and explayers, this night revived images of a distant past. For their sons and daughters, these events meant more than those forefathers can ever imagine. Liverpool Football Club has undergone an era of immense change in the last 20 years. Last night proved some things will never change.
Chris Bascombe, Liverpool Echo
A new Anfield era has begun. Fate, fairytale, whatever, Liverpool are in the European Cup final. Anfield had surpassed the noise level of Stamford Bridge half an hour before kick-off and the Kop was only a quarter full. Packed, it proved an awesome 12th man.
Andy Hunter, Daily Post
The people's club, clad in red, have shattered the biggest, blue-blooded ambitions of the most wealthy power-broker the game has ever known. They did it in an epic, defiant way too. Truly, there has not been a racket like it since, well, since Liverpool last won a European Cup semi-final on one of these white-lit spring nights or since they closed the old, standing-room only Spion Kop end of Anfield in 1994. It was not just a wall of bulging, stretching, moving red shirts upon which Chelsea had to mount a long, fruitless and toothless assault here. It was a wall of noise too.
John Dillon, Daily Express
IT MAY or may not have been his wife, but the man who moped wishfully around Anfield in the hours before kick-off holding aloft a placard bearing a picture of a buxom blonde above the words, "One night with my wife for a ticket", just about summed up what football means to the people of Liverpool.
James Ducker, The Times
Here were the Saints of Etienne, the burgomasters of Moenchengladbach and the Borgias of Rome rolled into a single semi-final for the new ages. Tinnitus night on the Mersey. This was the European Cup revisited in all its old sound and fury. This was Liverpool throwing themselves back through time. This was a journey down memory lane.
Jeff Powell, Daily Mail
It is Liverpool who carry the Premiership standard on to the greatest stage of them all. And nobody can deny them that right. The flame burns bright, their dream, remarkably, lives as it has not for 20 years.
Martin Lipton, Daily Mirror
It is one of the oddities of modern football that it was Liverpool - with, as their supporters never tire of telling us, 18 championships and four European Cups on the shelves - rather than Chelsea - with two and none - who picked up the traditional British support for the underdog. But that's what money does for you. Money and Jose Mourinho.
Jim White, Daily Telegraph
The night - and maybe the football year - belonged to Benitez. As the Kop sang so passionately, it could not have been in better hands.
James Lawton, The Independent
I think for Liverpool supporters Tuesday night's victory is the best because it is happening now. They have tremendous memories of the great days but that was a long time ago. This has given them belief, hope and optimism for the future after a couple of years of under-achievement. They are in dreamland. We saw that at the final whistle. The atmosphere at Anfield on Tuesday night and for the quarter-final against Juventus was sensational - better than anything I experienced in my time as a player. Those people who said the supporters would be a 12th man were spot on. They are a great bunch of supporters, even though at times recently they might have been disenchanted. It is a fitting tribute to them that the team have got to the Champions League final.
Alan Hansen, Daily Telegraph
The Anfield people are back in the final 20 years after Heysel. The people, not only the team, because the magic of this stadium made the team. coached by the genius Rafa Benitez, unbeatable. Mourinho is the great loser ofthis tie but he remains a great figure. It was thanks to him that this game turned into a melodramatic battle between good and bad, rich and poor. Milan will not underestimate the great history and tradition Liverpool seem to take with them wherever they go to the soundtrack You'll Never Walk Alone.
Corriere dello Sport, Italy
Chelsea had 40,000 screaming fans to contend with. The noise level at Stamford Bridge for the first leg would probably have proked Roy Keane into a rant about the prawn sandwich brigade, but here the sandwich brigade, but here the atmosphere boomed into the Merseyside night air and a seething gallery became a sea of red and white.
Paul Joyce, Daily Express
The scenes at the end were incredible. Gerrard was last off the pitch having gone to all four sides in ecstatic celebration. For this particular observer, Anfield will always remain special having been generously clapped off the pitch when Arsenal won the title here in 1989. Not as special, mind, as for the boy from Huyton. How can he say goodbye now to his umbilical cord? Of all Liverpool's momentous results down the years, this one could prove one of the most crucial.
Alan Smith, Daily Telegraph
Liverpool are no longer the half-ignored club that has never won the Premiership and sweats even to finish fourth. This tournament has seen it embrace its former status. It is not sentimentality to declare that clubs can sometimes gain strength by drawing on the store of folk memories. "Respect for your elders gives you character," the message read on a banner in the stands. It could have sounded like a fortune cookie but the four pictures of the European Cup beneath gave it resonance. Considering the pride that Anfield took in the great displays of synchronised passing a generation ago there was a certain irony to the booing when Chelsea composed themselves by holding the ball but this was the moment for any Liverpool fan to be at his most partisan. The spectatorswere participants.
Kevin McCarra, The Guardian
It was a night that will be remembered by Liverpool on a par with St-Etienne in 1977 and the thrilling defeat of Roma three years ago and it means that in Istanbul on 25 May, they have a chance to win their fifth European Cup. The banner in the Kop that read "Make us Dream" might have been touched with the sentimentality to which Anfield is prone but now the home support have good reason to hope. It had been an affront to Anfield tradition that, winning the toss, John Terry chose to defend the goal in front of the Kop. But no one could have expected them to pay for it so quickly. Liverpool's first goal was not quite as swift as the John Arne Riisestrike against Chelsea that took just 45 seconds of the Carling Cup final but it was equally devastating and its effect on the atmosphere in the old stadium was quite electrifying.
Sam Wallace, The Independent
Whatever they go on to achieve under Jose Mourinho, Chelsea and their billionaire owner learnt last night that there are some things money cannot buy. Four famous Scousers once sang that it can't buy you love, but add to that the type of passion that was required to propel Liverpool into their first European Cup final since 1985. Mourinho had shaken his head when asked whether the Kop could be the opposition's twelfth man, but instead they proved to be Liverpool's ninth, tenth and eleventh, inspiring players such as Djimi Traoreand Igor Biscanto play like the immortals that they might now become.
Oliver Kay, The Times
It had been a start from the manual of Anfield dreams, ferocious, cyclonic, and there were, of course, those vast layers of keening noise that had to be anticipated from the moment Liverpool walked out of Stamford Bridge with more than a taste of the old glory.This wasn't the Reebok Stadium and a splash of champagne. This was place practised in grabbing you by the throat and, and if you are not utterly attuned, somewhere in rather lower regions. Chelsea were far from acclimatised.
James Lawton, The Independent
Anfield constructed three layers of defence last night. The first, the conventional back four, did everything that could have been expected of them, with Jamie Carragheragain setting the tone. But those demands had already been reduced by the partnership of Didi Hamann and Igor Biscanin a front screen which gradually eroded the morale of Chelsea's forwards. And the third layer was formed by the 17,000 fans filling the old Kop and creating a steel wall of noise that surely kept out Eidur Gudjohnsen's blazing cross-shot in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time.
Richard Williams, The Guardian
We were promised Anfield's most memorable night in 20 years, and boy, we weren't left wanting. It was difficult not to get caught up in the atmosphere. Even Roman Abramovich, the Russian who has bankrolled Chelsea all the way to the Premiership title this season, was spotted clapping along enthusiastically to the Kop choir. It's the kind of support that no amount of Abramovich's billions can buy.
Ian Doyle, Daily Post