Champions League Throwback: Moscow and Madrid - The two all-English Champions League finals

The 2019 final was just the second time in European Cup history that two English teams were the last sides standing.

Published: 4 September 2020 - 3.17pm

It was confirmed in the most dramatic of circumstances. A day after Liverpool overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit to stun Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield and qualify for the final, Tottenham almost upstaged them.

With Tottenham trailing 3-0 on aggregate at half-time of their second leg against Ajax, Lucas Moura struck three times in the second period with the last coming in the 96th-minute to see his side through to their first-ever Champions League final on away goals.

For the first time since 2008 and for just the second time in the 63-year history of the European Cup, two English teams had made it through to the final.

You can relive the second-ever all-English Champions League final live on BT Sport 2 and across our digital platforms tonight as Liverpool overcame Tottenham 2-0 in Madrid to seal their sixth European Cup. 

But before Madrid, there was Moscow. Rewind 11 years ago and Manchester United and Chelsea were the two outstanding sides in English football.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s United had pipped Avram Grant’s Chelsea to the Premier League title by two points with Arsenal finishing behind their London rivals by the same margin.

With Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Paul Scholes, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Carlos Tevez, Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar, it was perhaps the Scotsman’s greatest-ever team.

Yet Chelsea were a formidable force themselves. Jose Mourinho had bowed out in September having fallen out with owner Roman Abramovich but the side he’d assembled – the same side that dominated between 2005 and 2007 – largely remained. 

Grant boasted a squad packed with leaders - featuring Petr Cech, Ricardo Carvalho, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Claude Makelele, Michael Ballack, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba.

United’s semi lacked the drama of Tottenham’s and Liverpool’s 11 years on. Scholes’ stunner was the only goal in 180 minutes of football as United saw off Barcelona.

Yet another all-English tie saw Chelsea taken to extra time at Stamford Bridge against familiar foes Liverpool. The Blues scored twice in the additional period through Drogba and Lampard – playing just six days following the death of his mother.

It reflected the Premier League’s dominance of the competition that three of the four semi-finalists hailed from these shores. United and Chelsea headed to the Russian capital as probably the two best sides in Europe. 

The 2008 final represented a benchmark – the pinnacle of England’s place on the continent. And 11 years later, two English sides reaching the final once again – as well as another two reaching the Europa League final in Chelsea and Arsenal – felt symbolic.

United were regarded as the slight favourites. As referee Lubos Michel saw it: “Chelsea had the bigger stars, but United had the greater team spirit”.

And so it proved. Ferguson’s men drew first blood at the Luzhniki Stadium when Ronaldo – at the very height of his powers – rose brilliantly to direct Wes Brown’s cross with a textbook header past Cech.

Chelsea drew level just before the interval. A double deflected Essien shot fell into the path of Lampard who made no mistake with a simple finish. 

The Londoners were in the ascendancy and had United on the backfoot for most of what followed. But in 45 minutes of normal time and in 30 of extra time, they could not make their pressure count.

“The game was played on the edge,” Michel reflected. “It was very difficult to hold all of these players under control”. The Slovakian referee was forced to extreme measures by the actions of Drogba in the closing stages.

A fracas ensued after Tevez attempted to put pressure on Chelsea from a throw-in after the ball was kicked out of play so players could receive treatment. Chelsea’s players, most notably Ballack and Drogba reacted angrily and the latter saw red for raising his hands to Vidic’s face.

The penalty shootout that followed will always be remembered for one moment. Ronaldo’s inexplicable miss from the spot left Chelsea captain Terry with the chance to chance to win it. In the Russian rain he slipped, his shot crashing off the post with the United keeper stranded.

Sudden death began and after a pair of successful penalties from Anderson and Salomon Kalou, substitute Nicolas Anelka’s effort was saved by Van der Sar and United were champions. Tears poured down Terry’s face as United’s team lifted the trophy.

The 2019 edition of the showpiece at Atletico’s shiny new Wanda Metropolitano lacked the drama of Moscow but not the tension.

Liverpool had lost out on the Premier League title just one point to Manchester City, despite recording the third-highest total in English football history.

Tottenham, after briefly threatening a title challenge, slumped to a fourth-placed finish 27 points off Liverpool and clinching Champions League qualification by a single point.  

Understandably, Liverpool were the heavy favourites. Tottenham’s battle to get striker Harry Kane fit to play further tipped the balance in the opposition’s favour. 

Tens of thousands of English football fans packed out the bars and squares in the Spanish capital days before kick-off, the majority without tickets to the match. The anticipation had been building ever since Lucas Moura’s goal three weeks previous.

Yet the tension was released just a minute into proceedings. Sadio Mane craftily clipped a cross into the outstretched arm of Moussa Sissoko, a penalty was awarded and Mohamed Salah thrashed Liverpool into the lead.

The final struggled to live up to what came before it. Instead the two sides played out a nervy contest of few clear-cut opportunities.

Tottenham saw efforts saved by Alisson but nothing was clear-cut and with three minutes remaining Divock Origi, hero of the semi-final, put the game beyond doubt.

Liverpool were champions and the final ended with wild celebrations from Jurgen Klopp’s men. One of the greatest campaigns in European Cup history ending with an English side lifting the trophy.