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Liverpool eye 2005 repeat
April 12, 2007 19:22 IST
It is deja vu for Liverpool as they contemplate a second Champions League semi-final against Chelsea in two years with the prospect of a final meeting with AC Milan also on the horizon.
In 2005, Liverpool triumphed against their Premier League rivals with a hotly-disputed Luis Garcia score which Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho described this week as "the only goal I've ever seen scored by the crowd".
Liverpool went on to take the title for the fifth time with their remarkable comeback against Milan in the Istanbul final.
That two-legged semi-final formed part of a long-running rivalry between Liverpool and Chelsea, and their two managers, as they clashed again in the Champions League group stage and last year's FA Cup semi-finals having previously met in the League Cup final.
They have met competitively 12 times in the last three seasons, plus in the Community Shield, and though Chelsea have the upper hand, Liverpool have won the key semi-finals in the Champions League and FA Cup.
In truth, most of their meetings were tight, uninspired affairs with most of the fireworks coming before and after as the two managers, regularly goaded into action by the media, traded barbs.
Benitez was quickly into his stride on Wednesday after Peter Crouch's record-equalling goal earned an easy 1-0 win over PSV Eindhoven to complete a 4-0 aggregate, quarter-final victory.
Asked if he was looking forward to locking horns with Mourinho again, the Spaniard said: "No. We were good friends until we started beating them, then it started changing.
"He has a very good relationship with the managers of the teams that normally he beats. He then starts fighting with those from the top teams."
Benitez certainly revels in ruffling the feathers of his Portuguese rival, regularly making reference to the funds available to him while taking every opportunity to mention what a top quality team the Londoners are.
Fellow Spaniard Xabi Alonso, however, chose to play down what happened in 2005.
"We are looking forward to the semi-finals and everyone will be talking about the last game but after two years their squad has changed and ours has changed so it will be a different game," the midfielder said.
Crouch's second-half winner took him level with Steven Gerrard, rested on Wednesday, and Roger Hunt on seven goals, the most scored in a single European Cup or Champions League season by a Liverpool player.
"We have seen what a special occasion the final is and I want to get there for the first time," said the England striker.
UEFA Champions League 2006-07: The Complete Coverage