Rafael Benitez was forced to change Liverpool sub in 2005 Champions League final

Liverpool's famous Champions League comeback victory over AC Milan in Istanbul could've been very different had Rafael Benitez not been forced into a change of personnel.

The Reds came from 3-0 down at half-time to secure victory over the Italian giants on penalties, with Steven Gerrard, Vladimir Smicer and Xabi Alonso all finding the target.

One man who played the entire 120 minutes of the inspired victory was Djimi Traore, a young left-back who had been at the club since leaving Lens back in 1999.

As Benitez scrambled to get his team back into the game during the break, he was set to substitute Traore as the formation changed from a back four to a back three.

"It's a true story," the former Liverpool defender told FourFourTwo.

"Tactically-speaking, Rafael Benitez made a change at halftime and I was supposed to be subbed.

"We changed our formation and we went from a back four to a back three. But then in the last minute before we went back out, our physio discovered that our right back, Steve Finnan, was injured and wouldn’t be able to continue. So they put me back into the team."

It was Dietmar Hamann who came on for the Ireland international, with Traore playing a key role and winning the finest honour of his professional career.

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Benitez, who now coaches rivals Everton, opened up on his team-talk from that evening last year.

"When you concede a second goal, you have to think about changing something," he told The Athletic.

"And if you concede a third? Well, then you definitely have to change and that was very clear.

"I said to Pako Ayestaran, my assistant, 'I will give the half-time team talk and we will talk about three at the back to have an extra player in the middle. You go and do the warm-up with Hamann.'

"The message we gave to the players was about confidence — try to score early, get back in the game. That was the main thing.

"In other circumstances or with smaller teams, perhaps you might be looking at damage limitation because you don’t want to concede four or five goals but this was a final."

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