Hello, Anfield: a house of marvels

May 8, 2019

Liverpool staged one of the all-time great European comebacks to oust Barcelona and book a place in the UEFA Champions League final.

Liverpool overturned a first-leg deficit against Barcelona to reach a second straight UEFA Champions League final

Liverpool overturned a first-leg deficit against Barcelona to reach a second straight UEFA Champions League final©AFP/Getty Images

All you need to know in 60 seconds …

Liverpool produced a sensational second-leg comeback to eliminate Barcelona, overturning a 3-0 deficit with a 4-0 triumph at Anfield to set up a final date in Madrid on 1 June with either Ajax or Tottenham.

Wijnaldum and Alexander-Arnold celebrate

Wijnaldum and Alexander-Arnold celebrate

Jürgen Klopp’s side took the lead on the night when Divock Origi poked in after Marc-André ter Stegen had parried a Jordan Henderson shot, although Barcelona could have hauled themselves level before the interval, Alisson denying Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho.

Georginio Wijnaldum replaced the injured Andy Robertson at half-time and promptly scored twice in three minutes, the first a low drive, the second a powerful front-post header. Messi’s free-kick deflected wide shortly afterwards and Origi completed the turnaround, steering in at the front post from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quickly taken corner.

View from the stadium: Matthew Howarth

Origi wheels away after scoring Liverpool's fourth goal

Origi wheels away after scoring Liverpool’s fourth goal

Anfield was shaking well before Origi ignited the Liverpool fans’ hopes of another remarkable European recovery – and, boy, was it shaking at full time! After Wijnaldum’s quickfire double at the start of the second half, it felt like there was only going to be one outcome. This famous old ground has witnessed plenty of astonishing comebacks down the years, but this – surely – tops the lot. It still hasn’t sunk in, and it won’t for a while.

Man of the match: Georginio Wijnaldum

Wijnaldum's double tilted the balance in Liverpool's favour

Wijnaldum’s double tilted the balance in Liverpool’s favour

When Wijnaldum was chosen as a ‘false’ centre-forward last week at the Camp Nou there was general shock. Nothing, at all, in comparison to the state of seismic shock his man-of-the-match impact had on Barcelona, this tie and … most of world football. Where last week his movement was shrewd and penetrating but his impact in the box was that of someone unused to arriving there, this time he was in his element. Two goals in just over 120 seconds for this likeable Dutchman whose impact resembles that of a long-ago Liverpool super-sub, David Fairclough, who perpetually came off the bench to do remarkable things. Few more remarkable than this.

Key stats

1: This is the first time Origi has ever scored twice in a European fixture.

2: This is only the second time Wijnaldum has scored more than once in a European match – he got a hat-trick in PSV’s UEFA Europa League qualifier against Zeta in August 2012.

Liverpool reach back-to-back UEFA Champions League finals

Liverpool reach back-to-back UEFA Champions League finals

3: This is the third time Liverpool have reached successive European Cup finals (1977, 1978 and 1984, 1985).

3: This is the third time a team has won a European Cup semi-final after losing the first leg by three goals – after Panathinaikos (1971) and Barcelona themselves (1986).

6: This is only the sixth time Barcelona have conceded four goals in a UEFA competition game – the last time they did so, against Paris in the 2016/17 round of 16, they still won the tie on aggregate.

9: Liverpool have won nine of their 11 European Cup semi-finals – and nine of the last ten.

11: Liverpool have now won their last 11 two-legged European ties.

 

What does it mean?

On a night of high drama at Anfield, Liverpool produced a comeback for the ages to reach a second successive European Cup final, the club’s ninth. Ajax or Tottenham will be the opponents and a win would take the Merseyside club to six titles, clear of Barcelona and Bayern, behind only AC Milan (7) and Real Madrid (13).

What’s next?

Liverpool are still in with a chance of lifting the Premier League, knowing that a win at Anfield against Wolves on Sunday and a Manchester City slip-up at Brighton would end a 29-year wait for the English title. Then, the Madrid showpiece beckons on 1 June.

There are two games still to go in the Liga but, with the title already wrapped up, the next big date for Barcelona is 25 May when they take on Valencia in the Copa del Rey final in Sevilla.

 

 

SOURCE: dailymail.co.uk


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *