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LIVERPOOL and Europe — they are just made for each other.

Why worry about the Premiership?

On another epic Champions League night, the Reds ripped open Chelsea hearts again.

Just as in 2005, on the way to that unforgettable victory in Istanbul, Rafa Benitez has got the better of his arch-enemy Jose Mourinho.

This time it was even closer than the last, on penalties, goalkeeper Pepe Reina saving from Arjen Robben and Geremi in the shoot-out.

And no one could begrudge Liverpool a seventh final in Athens on May 23 — and a bid for their sixth European Cup.

While Mourinho moaned about the goal which beat Chelsea two years ago, Benitez would have had every reason to complain had Liverpool been denied here.

Daniel Agger’s sweet strike from a cleverly worked free-kick by Steven Gerrard had cancelled out Joe Cole’s first-leg goal.

Then, in extra time, Dirk Kuyt slammed the ball home after Petr Cech saved sub Xabi Alonso’s drive.

Replays proved that Kuyt was onside when Alonso struck, but the linesman’s flag went up and referee Manuel Gonzalez pointed for a free-kick as the Dutchman raced around Anfield celebrating,

Yet Kuyt had the last word, firing home the decisive penalty in the shootout which settled it.

Up in the stands one poor lady who had been racked with tension throughout the 120 minutes, exploded with joy. None other than Montse Benitez who had suffered more than anyone.

She watched the game with her hands clasped tightly and was praying during the penalties.

At one point she even hid behind a barrier barely able to look.

But once Kuyt’s shot hit the net, Mrs Benitez hugged everyone she could find in the directors’ box.

This remember was the woman who told Rafa not to take the Real Madrid job and stay at Liverpool. Anfield owes her.

You could not fault Chelsea’s effort at Anfield. They tried hard enough but it was a disjointed performance and they created few chances. This is a tired side.

Liverpool were strong and commanding at the back and brought the fans to a crescendo with the 22nd minute goal.

Joe Cole brought down Gerrard on the left and, as the Liverpool skipper lined up the dead ball, it looked a certainty he was aiming for the far post.

But, at the last moment, Gerrard rolled the ball sideways to Agger and the Danish defender smacked a left-foot shot low into the corner from the edge of the box.

It was one right off the training ground and was executed perfectly.

For all Liverpool had the lead, they knew a Chelsea goal would probably end their dreams.

And it almost came on 32 minutes after Javier Mascherano gave the ball to Didier Drogba.

His shot was firm enough but too close to Reina and the Spanish keeper saved well.

Michael Essien, who had a fine game at the back, should have turned in a close-range chance but the ball hit his shoulder rather than his head and bounced wide.

DIRK'S SPOT ON ... Kuyt's penalty seals victory
DIRK'S SPOT ON ... Kuyt's penalty seals victory
It was Liverpool who began the second half the stronger and Peter Crouch was denied by Cech’s legs.

Then Kuyt’s header cannoned off the bar before Essien threw himself to deflect Jermaine Pennant’s volley over the bar.

At the other end Jamie Carragher — immense on the night along with Agger — made a sensational clearance to prevent Drogba slotting home Ashley Cole’s cross.

So to extra-time where Liverpool again looked the stronger.

Kuyt scored his ‘offside’ goal — which would surely have caused merry hell had Liverpool not gone through — and Cech saved from Kuyt as the game ended.

Penalties would decide it and from the moment Zenden confidently walloped home Liverpool’s opener you got the feeling it was destiny that the men from Anfield should reach their seventh final.

Robben shot towards the bottom corner and Reina was across to save to put Liverpool in the box seat.

Alonso and Lampard both scored, then Gerrard rattled in another before Reina saved from Geremi.

It was fitting it should be left to Kuyt to complete the job.

Liverpool fans and players began the party while Chelsea collapsed in despair with skipper John Terry in tears.

Mourinho had disparagingly labelled Liverpool a cup side in the build-up to this tie.

Last night they proved the Special One was right — as always!

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