In Eindhoven Liverpool took control of the match early and captain Gerrard scored the first goal in the 27th minute, diving over teammate Dirk Kuyt to head powerfully into the bottom corner after a cross from the right from Steve Finnan.
It was Gerrard's 15th goal in the European Cup, making him Liverpool's all-time leader in the competition.
Missing key players Alex, Ibrahim Afellay and Arouna Kone from the spine of their team, the Dutch championslooked shakey at the back and in the 49th minute an appalling crossfield pass from Teddy Simons was intercepted by Riise, who dispatched a trademark 25m left-foot drive past the helpless Heurelho Gomes.
Liverpool put the result well beyond doubt just after the hour mark when another testing cross from Finnan was headed in by Crouch.
Simons described the result as "painful" and admitted that “their [Liverpool] players were more disciplined and we made plenty of mistakes."
The only blemish on Liverpool's evening came when Fabio Aurelio was carried off the field with a leg injury to be raplced by Mark Gonzalez.
|Van Buyten silences the San Siro [AFP]|
Liverpool will now be dreaming of a repeat of their magical night in Istanbul two years ago when came from three goals down to edge AC Milan on penalties and lift the trophy.
A repeat of that final is still a possibility but Milan will first have to come away from Germany with at least a 2-2 draw next week after Van Buyten’s late strike gave the German’s a slight advantage.
It was Van Buyten's second goal of the night as the big Belgian defender first cancelled out a first half header from Andrea Pirlo then Kaka's 83rd minute penalty.