English side Liverpool pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history as they overcame a 3-0 first leg deficit against Barcelona to win the match 4-0 with a 4-3 aggregate and progress to the competition’s final.
Having been written off from the tie by many given the relative difficulty of the task, the quality of the opposition and missing star players like Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino due to injury, Liverpool knew they had a herculean task on the night. But just as we keep learning in football, anything is possible, especially in European matches at Anfield.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Jurgen Klopp’s men conjured up four goals to win the second leg semi-final tie 4-3 on aggregate much to the shock of the footballing world. The comeback brings back memories of last year’s quarterfinals where Barcelona seemed in complete control of the tie against Roma having earned a 4-1 lead at home in the first leg, only to be shocked in Rome by 3 unreplied goals taking the aggregate to 4-4 with Roma advancing on away goals rule.
The fact that Liverpool played well in the first leg but was unfortunate to get anything, would have given the players and fans a glimmer of hope. The atmosphere at Anfield was electric as the players set out to achieve the unthinkable.
The men in red got off to a flying start when Divock Origi was on hand to tap in a rebound in the seventh minute after a forced save from Barcelona goalkeeper Ter Stegen. The goal seemed to spark the visitors to life as Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho made several attempts on goal without any luck. Half time came as a welcome reprieve for both sides.
Forced into a halftime substitution, Liverpool replaced an injured Andy Robertson with Geoginio Wijnaldum. And what could easily have been a potentially disruptive change, turned the game on its head in favour of the hosts. Barely 10 minutes into the second half, Liverpool found themselves level in the tie after a quick-fire brace from substitute Wijnaldum. Anfield was simply rocking with euphoria.
Barcelona was shocked but pressed forward nonetheless, trying to conjure up something against a resolute Liverpool defence to no avail. And just when they felt they could get back into the game, a moment of magic from Trent-Alexander Arnold with 10 minutes left, saw him take a witty corner catching the unsuspecting Barcelona defence off guard. His low cross found Origi who tapped in for their fourth of the night. Barcelona simply did not know what hit them.
Liverpool was finally ahead! All they needed to do was see off the remaining minutes and they did that to perfection. There were no words to describe the elation. They had achieved what very little expected they could.
No words could do justice to describe what they had done. It was a much-deserved victory for the English side but one has to question the mentality of the Barcelona side that simply did not turn up. Their horrible away form in European competition continues.
Muslihat Shaka reporting
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