Uefa Champions League semi-final second leg Liverpool 4 Barcelona 0 (4-3 on aggregate)
Don’t waste time pinching yourselves, it wasn’t a dream. Liverpool really are in the Uefa Champions League final after producing one of the greatest comebacks in European football history.
Was it the greatest? That’s debatable. Remember how Barcelona beat Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 two years ago to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit?
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But at Anfield on Tuesday night the boot was on the other foot as Barca were blown away by the Merseyside club.
It was one of the most thrilling nights the famous Anfield stadium has seen - the greatest in the words of their former captain Jamie Carragher - as the Reds scored four unanswered goals to cancel out the three-goal advantage Barcelona had built in last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou.
This was the second successive season that Barcelona have gone to pieces in the Champions League knockout phase. Last season they lost 3-0 to Roma in the quarter-final second leg and the pressure will be intense this morning as Ernesto Valverde and his players wake to realise that, no, it wasn’t all a horrible nightmare.
In contrast, Liverpool have the unadulterated luxury of tuning in the TV on Wednesday night to see whether they’ll face Ajax or Tottenham in the final on 1 June in Madrid.
“The whole game, the whole performance was too much,” said a stunned Jurgen Klopp at the end of the unforgettable 90 minutes. “It was overwhelming. I watched in my life so many football games but I can’t remember many like this.”
Asked to sum up his players and their never-say-die attitude, the Liverpool manager replied: “If I have to describe this club then it’s a big heart and tonight it was pounding like crazy. You could hear it all over the world.”
The heartbeat was heard loudest in Barcelona, a city that today is mourning, as their players became the first since 1986 to fail to defend a three-goal first-leg deficit to win a semi-final in this competition. The losers on that night were Sweden’s Gothenburg and the victors? Barcelona.
But last night they had no answer to a rampant Liverpool side that scored their first goal on seven minutes when Divock Origi was on hand to tap a rebound into the visitors’ net.
That gave the Liverpool fans hope, and the hope turned to hysteria in the space of two minutes early in the second half when substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored twice to level the aggregate scores.
The force was now emphatically with the home side and Barcelona seemed to shrink as the atmosphere inside Anfield intensified.
Their defence looked dazed as Alexander-Arnold swung in a quick corner on 79 minutes and Origi found himself with the time, and the space, to bury the ball into the Barca net, and with it the Spanish side’s hopes of European glory.
What they said about the ‘greatest’ ever night at Anfield
Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona head coach: “They kind of us rolled us over, really. It is a terrible result for our fans and for ourselves.”
Luis Suarez, Barcelona striker and former Liverpool star: “We are very sad, we are in a lot of pain. For their fourth goal we looked like schoolboys.”
Alan Shearer, former England striker: “I have never seen anything like this before.”
Jamie Carragher, former Liverpool defender: “Greatest night ever at Anfield.”
Rio Ferdinand: “What Liverpool produced here is breathtaking. It’s amazing. It’s only really football that does this to you.”
Spanish newspaper Sport headline: “Crushed like a cockroach.”
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager: “It’s 10 past 10, most of your children are probably in bed but these boys are f*****g talented giants. It’s unbelievable. Fine me if you want.”
Best tweets from the ‘miracle of Anfield’
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