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16th Mar 2017

Former Liverpool man Ryan Babel delivered a blast from the past in the Europa League

Still got it

Tom Victor

Liverpool fans got real pangs of nostalgia during Thursday’s Europa League last-16 second-leg fixtures.

No, we’re not talking about the deft lob from Iago Aspas which helped Celta Vigo make it through to the quarter-finals with a 2-0 victory away to Krasnodar.

It was a nice finish, mind you.

No, instead it was another former Reds player who stole the show in the competition, with Ryan Babel scoring twice in Besiktas’ 4-1 victory over Olympiacos, a result which saw the Turkish side progress 5-2 on aggregate.

Şenol Güneş’ team overcame the sending-off of Vincent Aboubakar – the second time the Cameroon striker has been dismissed in Europe this season – to make it into the final eight thanks to late goals from Babel and Cenk Tosun.

And if you were thinking the words ‘Babel’ and ‘Besiktas’ sound familiar, you’d be right. In fact, it was the Dutchman’s first European double since another famous game involving his current employers.

Babel’s Liverpool career might have ultimately petered out, but his time at Anfield coincided with regular Champions League football under Rafa Benitez.

So we shouldn’t be too surprised that his goalscoring exploits brought back fond memories for those who enjoyed the football played by the Merseyside club when Babel was on their books between 2007 and 2011.

And you read that right, he’s still just 30 years old.