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(CNN) -- It is not often that a football match can be summed up in a single word.

But mention "Istanbul" and every fan in the world will know exactly what game you're talking about.

On 25 May 2005, Liverpool and AC Milan played the Champions League final at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, which also hosts this year's final between Manchester City and Inter Milan.

The match 18 years ago would become one of the most memorable and iconic in the history of the sport, one that Liverpool fans still refer to as the 'Miracle of Istanbul'.

At that time AC Milan was leading 3-0 at half-time thanks to Paolo Maldini's goal in the opening minute and a brace from Hernán Crespo, so the Italian team already had a hand on the trophy when the teams returned to the dressing rooms.

What happened in the second half, however, made the 2005 Champions League final the mother of all "I was there" moments.

"All football fans, you don't have to be Liverpool or Milan fans, remember that game," former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia told CNN Sport in 2020 commenting that night.

"It was unbelievable that we lost 3-0 against an Italian team at half-time and managed to win it at the end in the penalty shootout."

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AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti passes in front of the Champions League trophy after the 2005 final. (Credit: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

What makes the events of that night even more remarkable is that Liverpool's comeback was completed almost as soon as it began.

Only seven minutes elapsed between Liverpool captain and talisman Steven Gerrard scoring the opening goal for Liverpool and Xabi Alonso levelling the score, shortly after the one-hour mark, an exciting and chaotic period in which the Reds seemingly did the impossible.

Rafa Benitez's men came out into the second half as a completely different team, one full of faith who played with courage and purpose. But what generated this sudden change?

"I think the most frequently asked question is, 'What happened at halftime?'" said Hyypia. "I've lost count of how many times I've explained what happened. It was very quiet at first and we heard the crowd singing 'You'll Never Walk Alone' outside and that was amazing.

"Your team is 3-0 down and the crowd was singing all half-time and maybe that gave us a bit of strength, but then Rafa Benitez was quite calm and just said, 'Look, guys, you can't go on like this. We have to give the fans something to cheer about in the second half, many of them have travelled from far away, even by car to Istanbul to support us.

"I wouldn't think he expected that to happen, which happened then," she said.

Even after Gerrard scored the first, a looping header he celebrated by frantically waving his arms and shouting in an attempt to cheer on his teammates, Hyypia said the team still didn't believe they could come back.

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Steven Gerrard kisses the Champions League trophy in 2005. (Credit: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

But when Vladimír Šmicer's sweet goal made it 3-2 just two minutes later, Hyypia said everything changed.

"I think the second goal was the turning point when we started to believe we could come back," the Finnish defender recalled.

"The third came quite quickly after that and I think it was a bit of a shock for Milan that we came back to 3-3 and then they started playing again and it was a bit more even again.

"They had a great chance for Jerzy [Dudek] to stop in extra time, [Andriy] Shevchenko's double stop, which was an incredible double stop from Jerzy and of course he was also the hero in the penalty shootout."

In fact, that truly incredible double save from Liverpool's Polish goalkeeper was as important as any of the team's three goals.

Even today, the second of Dudek's saves to deny Shevchenko the goal in the final minutes of extra time still seems almost physically impossible: a point-blank touch with the glove that somehow deflected the ball over the crossbar.

Jerzy Dudek celebrates with his Liverpool teammates after the penalty shootout. (Credit: MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images)

Without that save, Dudek's famous "wobbly legs" that helped win the penalty shootout and Liverpool's comeback would be forgotten. It is likely that "Istanbul" would never have become part of the football lexicon.

For Hyypia, these moments made the occasion even more remarkable.

"Every footballer in the world would like to win the Champions League once, and that night I managed to win it and nobody has taken it away from me," Hyypia said. "It's in the history books and I think it's the biggest thing you can win in club competitions.

"We managed to win it then and I'm happy about that and I thank all my teammates and the people who helped us on the way to the final and to win it," he added.

The victory got out of hand for AC Milan

The night was also unforgettable for AC Milan and their fans, but for all the wrong reasons.

At halftime, fans at the stadium and at home in Milan would have been forgiven for starting their celebrations early. The 3-0 lead was deserved and reflected the class chasm between the two teams.

Legendary Brazilian goalkeeper Dida played for AC Milan that night and did everything in his power to maintain his team's lead, stopping Xabi Alonso's penalty in the second half, but the Spaniard beat him on the rebound.

AC Milan's then-Brazilian goalkeeper Dida is still struggling to understand what happened that night of May 25, 2005, in Istanbul. (Credit: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/AFP via Getty Images)

Even 15 years after that night, Dida admitted he still thinks about that final and wonders how his team squandered a seemingly impregnable lead.

"It's one of those things we still think about to this day, if it was true," Dida told CNN in 2020. "Because every once in a while, when we look at that game and ask ourselves, we say, 'It can't be possible.'"

"Then that image, I think, will stay in everybody's head. The cup [we thought] was practically ours, but football is like that, it's nice because until the referee finishes the game, anything can happen."

AC Milan took revenge two years later, beating Liverpool 2-1 in the final, a match that Dida said helped ease Istanbul's pain.

"Obviously talking about 2007 is much more enjoyable," he said. "We are much happier, especially because we won.

"It was proof that we could have done the same two years earlier, but time has passed and we must try to forget the game we lost and focus more on the one we won."

If Saturday's clash between Man City and Inter is half as exciting as the 2005 final, then fans will find themselves in for another special occasion.

Final de la Champions League