Football might be a team game but on the biggest occasions it’s often the individual who makes the difference. Rarely is that more evident than in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
We’ve witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly in the last-four stage of the competition, and a lot of Chelsea versus Liverpool too. But which playersgo down in history with tournament-defining individual performances?
Check out our top four below and let us know what you think either by commenting or tweeting @Ladbrokes.
Keane v Juventus (1998-99)
Man United have had more than one great night in Turin over the years. Yet it’s the 1999 semi-final second-leg against Juventus that lives longest in the memory, not least because of an inspired turn from Roy Keane.
With the Red Devils trailing 2-0 on the night, Keane sparked an unlikely revival with a glancing header to make it 2-1. That set the tone for what was to come, but it was his display after receiving a booking that would rule him out of the final which goes down in legend.
From that point on, his focus was unerring and his passing exquisite. Wes Brown later said the Irishman went into “Terminator Mode”. It’s hard to disagree, with Keane inspiring United to their date with destiny at Camp Nou.
Kaka v Man United (2006-07)
The 2006-07 semi-final between Man United and AC Milan was all about Kaka. The mercurial Brazilian dominated over not one but two legs as I Rossoneri set out to avenge the previous season’s semi-final defeat to Barcelona.
Kaka was a huge part of that, scoring two vital away goals in the first-leg at Old Trafford to keep Milan in the tie, even if an inspired Wayne Rooney double meant they still had it all to do back at the San Siro.
That was no problem for Kaka, though, with the future Ballon d’Or winner netting the opener in a 3-0 return-leg victory to send Carlo Ancelotti’s men through to another mouth-watering battle with Liverpool.
Lewandowski v Real Madrid (2012-13)
It’s long been established that Robert Lewandowski quite likes scoring goals. Never was that more evident than against Real Madrid in 2013, when the Polish hitman slammed four past Los Blancos in one night.
Three poacher’s efforts and one superbly taken strike in the first-leg at Signal Iduna Park all-but guaranteed Borussia Dortmund a first Champions League final appearance since the 1996-97 season.
Cristiano Ronaldo’s consolation effort gave Real hope, and despite a 2-0 win in the second-leg for the La Liga side, it wasn’t enough as Lewandowski’s quartet of strikes set-up a Wembley date with rivals Bayern Munich.
Moura v Ajax (2018-19)
Football is a funny old game. Lucas Moura probably wouldn’t have even started this semi-final had Harry Kane been available. But the Tottenham captain wasn’t fit, and Moura got the nod up-front instead.
Fate works in mysterious ways. And the Brazilian would end up responsible for one of the greatest comebacks in the Champions League history, scoring a hat-trick to take Tottenham through to the unlikeliest of CL finals.
After finishing a superb first-time chance to make it 2-1 the forward then produced a fine solo effort to draw things level at 2-2.
It wasn’t until the sixth minute of added time that he completed the job, latching on to Dele Alli’s perfectly weighted through ball before passing it beyond Andre Onana to send Spurs through on away goals.
All odds and markets correct as of date of publication.