In the first leg in Barcelona, despite a brave performance, Liverpool fell to a humbling 3-0 defeat. With the lack of an away goal, many commentators were already calling it a day on the tie, particularly with the injuries that had begun to plague the team. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were both ruled out. However, many others knew that a tie is never settled at half time. With the spirit of Istanbul still looming large in the memory of many, tonight saw Liverpool defy the odds.
Liverpool Defy The Odds to Stun Barcelona and Reach Champions League Final
Quick Out of the Block
Before the match, there was much speculation over who would replace the injured duo of Salah and Firmino. When the line-ups were announced there were some doubts whether Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri could live up to the occasion. Origi quickly expelled these doubts putting the hosts into a one-goal lead on the night with seven minutes on the clock. Liverpool played the rest of the half at a frenzied pace, not allowing the visitors to settle into a rhythm. The goal, however, was not to be breached again prior to the interval.
The Super-Sub Saves The Day
Injury meant that Andy Robertson couldn’t take his place back out on the pitch for the second half. In his place, Georginio Wijndalum was substituted on. Within ten minutes of his introduction, Wijndalum made his presence felt. On the 54th minute, Trent Alexander-Arnold displayed the benefits of Klopp’s gegenpress system, winning the ball back high up the pitch. He drove the ball low into the area, where the onrushing Wijndalum met him. There will have to be questions asked of the keeper, but it means very little to the Kopites. It was truly game on.
Within a couple of moments, the substitute found himself in the box once again. Following a whipped cross from Shaqiri on the left wing, Wijndalum powered his header home. Extraordinarily, Liverpool found themselves on level terms bringing the tie towards extra-time. Not only that, but all the momentum was now in their favour. From the powerful position which they had been in, Barcelona would now undoubtedly take extra-time.
Barcelona Caught Napping
Liverpool continued to probe following the equaliser. However, the breakthrough with just over ten minutes of regulation time left to play, came off the back of astonishingly sloppy defending from Barcelona. On the 79th minute as Alexander-Arnold prepared to take a corner, the entire Barcelona defence seemed to be asleep on their feet. He took the corner quickly, along the ground to the feet of Origi who was unmarked in the centre of the area. Origi made no mistakes with such a gift-wrapped opportunity, rifling the ball into the top corner.
Barcelona upped the tempo somewhat in the last ten minutes plus stoppage time. However, despite long periods without the ball, Allison never came under much pressure in Liverpool’s goal. The Merseysiders will now go on to face the winners of tomorrow’s tie between Tottenham Hotspur and Ajax, in the Champions League Final.