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On This Day In 2000: Anelka Rises In Champions League Semi-finals

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FOOT-LIGUE-MADRID-BAYERN Photo by PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP via Getty Images

21 years ago to this day, Real Madrid were well into their Champions League title run in 2000 as they headed towards and unlikely championship as underdogs.

Facing favourites Bayern Munich in the semi-finals, Real Madrid secured a big 2 - 0 first-leg win at the Bernabeu. Real Madrid, who had been outscored by Bayern 8 - 3 in the group stages that very same season over two games, got goals from Nicolas Anelka and Michel Salgado.

Anelka was a disappointing signing, and had a rough Real Madrid stint. But he came good in the clutch of the season.

From Kiyan Sobhani’s article for Marca back in 2017:

The corpse of Nicolas Anelka rises

Just two months after Real Madrid were dealt a blow by Bayern Munich in the group stages in 2000, Los Blancos went into the semi-finals of the Champions League as severe underdogs.

Not least because they were perceived as ‘riding their luck,’ after eliminating Manchester United in the quarter-finals, and because no team had ever beaten the two previous finalists - United and Bayern Munich - from the year before. Besides, this was a Bayern side that was on a mission.

They had been defeated in soul-gutting fashion at the Camp Nou in 1999, they were hungry and they had already feasted on Real Madrid that same season. Everything pointed to them finishing their deed once the two legs had passed.

On the other hand, Real were treading water in LaLiga, barely getting into the top five in a largely disappointing domestic campaign.

Then came Nicolas Anelka. He had been signed the summer before for just over 22 million euros from Arsenal, and was supposed to act as Raul’s strike partner moving forward.

He wasn’t. He didn’t score a single goal in his first five months at the club, and was largely outplayed by Fernando Morientes. Sporadically, Anelka would show signs of life but never truly showed the form from his Arsenal days.

Against Bayern, however, the Frenchman bamboozled both Jens Jeremies and Thomas Linke to finish into the roof of the net, past Oliver Kahn.

That goal was a nice left jab to Bayern Munich’s chin — and the jabs kept coming.

The right hook didn’t land until Raul broke the Bavarians again with another razor sharp pass, releasing Salgado, who, in turn, pinged it off Jeremies and into the net.

Highlights

Line-ups that night:

Real Madrid: Casillas, Salgado, Carlos, Redondo, Raul, McManaman, Morientes, Campo, Helguera, Karanka, Anelka. Subs: Illgner, Savio, Baljic, Geremi, Karembeu, Julio Cesar, Ognjenovic.

Bayern Munich: Kahn, Babbel, Lizarazu, Scholl, Elber, Sergio, Jeremies, Fink, Tarnat, Salihamidzic, Linke. Subs: Dreher, Kuffour, Andersson, Weisinger, Strunz, Jancker, Santa Cruz.