Two red cards and Steven Gerrard rage as Liverpool friendly plunged into chaos.

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Two red cards and Steven Gerrard rage as Liverpool friendly plunged into chaos

It’s reckoned to be a time for finding fitness, blowing off the cobwebs and steadily building towards the new campaign.

However, there are times when pre-season rivalries take on a competitive edge that refutes their description of being friendly.

Such was the case on this day in 2003 when Liverpool took on Galatasaray in the Amsterdam tournament in Holland.

What should have been a beautiful match to decide the competition – the Reds had drawn with hosts Ajax a few days earlier – instead plunged into chaos with two red cards, claims of fake injury and all manner of tetchiness.

It possibly didn’t help that the teams had become well familiarized having faced off twice in the Champions League the previous year, and that relations between England and Turkey were at a low ebb with both scrapping for qualification to the following summer’s European Championships.

Matters turned feisty in the second half when a crude tackle from Igor Biscan on Berkant Goktan inspired a brawl after which Steven Gerrard, who only appeared from the bench for the final half-hour, was booked.


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“In that original tussle Hakan Sukur went to grab him and pinch him,” said then Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier.

“Steven reacted, but in football it’s never the provocation that gets punished but the retaliation.

“The whole thing was started by a bad tackle by Igor Biscan, but the guy was not even injured.”

Gerrard, no doubt mindful of being hit by Galatasaray defender Bulent Korkmaz in the tunnel at England’s Euro 2004 qualifier with Turkey a few months earlier, had already become entangled in an ongoing spat with Hakan Unsal.

But it was a tackle from another Liverpool replacement, Neil Mellor, four minutes from time that sparked the next free-for-all.

Mellor was given a red card for going through the back of Gabriel Tamas, minutes after which Gerrard was shown a second yellow for heresy by frazzled referee Rene Temmiunk and followed his teammate down the tunnel.

“I don’t know what happened between between Steven and the referee later on,” added Houllier. “Maybe as one of our leaders he was frustrated with Mellor being sent off and that got to him.

“But he didn’t use any foul language or insult the referee, because I asked the referee immediately afterwards if that was the case and he said no.”

It didn’t end there, as Galatasaray wing-back Fabio Pinto apparently spat at Liverpool goalkeeper Chris Kirkland after the final whistle as the Turkish side celebrated their victory.

“Sure, it wasn’t very friendly at the end, but sometimes emotions can get the better of players,” said Galatasaray boss Fatih Terim.

“That was not about the internationals or the countries involved. Anyway, we will win the game in Turkey and qualify.”

England went on to draw in Istanbul two months later and eliminate Turkey.

Oh, and the final score in Amsterdam? Emile Heskey scored Liverpool’s equalizer as they lost 2-1. But nobody remembers that.

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Two red cards and Steven Gerrard rage as Liverpool friendly plunged into chaos.

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