It’s seven years to the day since Jerzy Dudek pulled off his incredible double save to deny Andrey Shevchenko and set Liverpool on the way to Champions League success. It’s become known as the ‘Miracle of Istanbul’ largely for the three goals Liverpool managed in eight second half minutes and their subsequent penalty shoot-out victory. But the three goals would have been nothing more than pub quiz trivia had it not been for one remarkable double save from the Liverpool goalkeeper.
Up to that point in the night, Dudek’s contribution had been minimal. There was little he could do for Milan’s three first half goals as Kaka and Pirlo pulled Liverpool apart. He made some regulation saves, but had a big slice of luck in the second half when spilling a simple Kaka low cross to Shevchenko who had his shot cleared off the line by the much maligned Djimi Traore.
With just over two minutes to go in the second half of extra-time came his moment. One of the defining moments for a goalkeeper in European Cup history. Shevchenko – then one of Europe’s most lethal finishers – heads towards goal. The first save is a sharp, if straightforward effort. The ball falls perfectly for Milan and as Shevchenko bears down on the rebound, millions wait to see the net ripple. It never came however. Somehow Dudek stuck an arm out and deflected the shot high above the bar.
In commentary, Andy Gray summed up the amazement perfectly by saying “when Andrey Shevchenko misses this with less than three minutes to go, you might as well start carving Liverpool’s name on the trophy.” After some penalties and another moment of Dudek denying Shevchenko, he was proven right and the engraver could begin adding those nine letters to the famous cup for a fifth time.
You can have your views as to how much Dudek actually knew about it. It doesn’t really matter because the save was more about his spirit and attitude on the night than anything else. Yes the Ukrainian should have put the ball somewhere in the 95% of the goal mouth that Dudek couldn’t cover, but the Pole never gave up and did what he could for his team. It was the hopeless cause that Dudek refused to give up. The odds were against him, but he got something in the way. For all our training and technical analysis, a goalkeeper needs to have that attitude and for Dudek and Liverpool it ended up with one of the biggest prizes in world football.
The highlights in full: