On a poignant night for all around Merseyside and beyond, Liverpool faced Toulouse for the last time for over 15 years – as two diverging stories began.
Drawn against Toulouse in the group stage of the Europa League, the Reds were presented with only the second meeting with the French side in their history.
Previously, the two clubs had only faced off across two legs in the third qualifying round in the Champions League, the second leg held at Anfield.
Taking a 1-0 lead from the opening leg at Stadium Municipal, Rafa Benitez had to ensure his side got the job done to book their place in the competition proper.
Before kickoff, a tribute was made to the family of murdered schoolboy Rhys Jones, with Z-Cars played at Anfield for the first time and thousands standing in applause and then silence in honour of the 11-year-old, who passed away less than a week before.
Benitez made seven changes to his starting lineup on a poignant evening, including a debut for winger Sebastian Leto.
The second-leg tie set in motion two wildly contrasting careers at the club, with Leto making his first of only four appearances for the Reds and substitute Lucas Leiva the first of 346.
It was Peter Crouch, in his second start of the campaign, who finished the first of many chances on the night, diverting in from Dirk Kuyt’s cross.
Liverpool 4-0 Toulouse (5-0 on agg)
Champions League Third Qualifying Round Second Leg, Anfield
August 28, 2007
Goals: Crouch 19′, Hyypia 49′, Kuyt 87′ 90+1′
Liverpool: Reina; Arbeloa, Agger (Finnan 81′), Hyypia, Riise; Benayoun, Mascherano, Sissoko (Lucas 68′), Leto (Babel 75′); Crouch, Kuyt
Subs not used: Itandje, Alonso, Pennant, Torres
Crouch, who found himself at odds with Benitez’s selection following the signing of Fernando Torres, could have had a hat-trick by half-time.
It fell to Sami Hyypia to make it 2-0 just after the break, though, heading home from a Yossi Benayoun corner despite nursing a broken nose from the 2-0 win at Sunderland three days previous.
Liverpool were already cruising, and on course for the group stage, when a late brace from the feisty Kuyt ensured a 5-0 aggregate victory.
“I am very happy with my team. We showed the strength and quality of our squad,” Benitez reflected after the game.
“We scored four good goals and could have scored a lot more. We now have two players for each position and you can see our squad is stronger than it was.
“I have players everywhere who want to play and have the ability to play.”
For Leto and Lucas, it was the night that saw them head down two divergent paths.
The Argentine winger only played four times for Liverpool, and never in the Premier League, with issues with his passport denying him the work permit he required to do so.
Lucas, on the other hand, endured through a difficult start to life at Anfield to become a stalwart of the squad for five different managers, playing the last of his 346 games under Jurgen Klopp.
Unfortunately, they were unable to reach the final for a third time under Benitez, suffering defeat to Chelsea in the last four.