On this day: Liverpool beat Alaves in nine-goal thriller to win UEFA Cup

On this day in 2001, Liverpool won the UEFA Cup after overcoming Alaves in a nine-goal thriller in Dortmund.

Liverpool went into the 2001 UEFA Cup final in Dortmund having already won the FA Cup and League Cup during a stellar domestic campaign that had also seen them finish in third position in the Premier League.

Their run in Europe had also seen them overcome some of the continent's giants - including Roma and Barcelona - but they were faced with a completely different challenge in the final against Spanish minnows Alaves, who had taken care of the likes of Inter Milan and Kaiserslautern on their way to the final at the Westfalenstadion.

Liverpool made the perfect start in front of a 48,000 crowd as they took the lead after just three minutes. Gary McAllister swung in a free kick from the right that found Markus Babbel, and the German defender made no mistake in powerfully heading home from close range.

Alaves were already beginning to show signs that the occasion was getting to them, and they quickly found themselves 2-0 behind after 16 minutes when McAllister and Michael Owen combined to release Steven Gerrard, who wasted no time in driving the ball past Martin Herrera from inside the penalty area.

After boasting a mean defence throughout the competition, there was a feeling that Liverpool already had one hand on the trophy, but the Spaniards ensured that complacency wouldn't set in within the Merseyside outfit when they pulled a goal back just before the half-hour mark.

Gary McAllister of Liverpool scores from the penalty spot during the UEFA Cup Final against Deportivo Alaves on May 16, 2001© Getty Images

Cosmin Contra worked himself down the right-hand side before floating a cross to the back post where Ivan Alonso directed a header past Sander Westerveld and into the bottom corner.

Alaves began to build momentum, but five minutes before half time, Liverpool regained their two-goal advantage, and on another day they would have headed into the break a man to the good too.

After being played in on goal, Owen attempted to take the ball around Herrera, but the Argentine stopper could only haul him down. However, the referee adjudged that it only warranted a caution, but from the resulting penalty, McAllister stepped up to confidently put away the kick.

Liverpool were in control but in the space of four minutes at the start of the second half, their lead had been wiped out. After some fine build-up play on the right, a cross came in for Javi Moreno to head past Westerveld from 10 yards. Two minutes later, he drove a free kick through the wall that left the Dutch goalkeeper standing.

The English outfit had twice failed to capitalise on holding a two-goal advantage, and in a red-hot atmosphere in Dortmund, Alaves were beginning to look the more likely winners as they chased their first European trophy.

Liverpool players celebrate after Delfi Geli of Alaves scores an own goal to give Liverpool victory in the UEFA Cup Final between Liverpool and Deportivo Alaves on May 16, 2001© Getty Images

But driven on by a set of supporters who were craving their third cup win of the season, Liverpool came back, and with 18 minutes remaining, they went ahead for a third time when McAllister, who was producing arguably the performance of his career, played in Robbie Fowler, who brought the ball inside before firing it past Herrera from 18 yards.

It looked as though one of the most prolific strikers in the club's history would have the final say but Alaves dealt Liverpool a sucker-punch with two minutes remaining when Jordi Cruyff rose above the defence to head home from six yards to take the match into extra time.

The match was very much in the balance but it began to turn in Liverpool's favour during the extra period when Magno Mocelin was dismissed for two yellow cards, before Alaves were reduced to nine men when Antonio Karmona suffered the same fate, and in doing so, conceded a free kick in a threatening position with just four minutes left.

With golden goal rules being used, Liverpool pushed almost everyone forward, and their pressure paid off as McAllister's terrific set piece was glanced into his own net by Delfi Geli to gift Liverpool their third UEFA Cup triumph in their proud history.

The following year saw the Reds finish in second position in the Premier League standings, while another lengthy campaign in Europe saw them progress through two group stages before bowing out at the Champions League last-eight stage to Bayer Leverkusen.

Ipswich Town celebrate Marcus Stewart's goal at Anfield on December 10, 2000.
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