Liverpool had a mountain to climb as they looked to overturn a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final.
The Reds’ attack was depleted as they were without superstars Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. Firmino was ruled out with a muscular injury while Salah had suffered a concussion in their last outing against Newcastle United.
Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho returned to the familiar territory of Anfield whereas Belgian forward Divock Origi, who has been Firmino’s understudy all season, started this season-defining match. Liverpool needed to show the same levels of energy as they did in their weekend win at the St James’ Park.
Barcelona had no controlled possession in the opening stages and when Jordi Alba committed a mistake, Sadio Mane pounced to help Origi open the scoring in the seventh minute. Barca had their first effort in the 14th minute when Alisson tipped Lionel Messi’s effort over.
Alisson was proving to be a key figure as he made another good save from Coutinho with Suarez lurking nearby. His counterpart Marc-Andre ter Stegen was soon called into action when he made an awkward save from Andy Robertson.
As the second half got underway, Liverpool had plenty of fire in their bellies and played with big hearts and sound minds. Within a space of three minutes in the second-half, dynamic Dutch midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum, who had replaced Robertson at the start of the second half, turned the game on its head by scoring two quickfire goals.
Suddenly, the players of Barcelona started to think about the last season’s night in the Italian capital whereas Liverpool was seeing shades of Istanbul. Barcelona who hadn’t lost in any of the Champions League matches this season, was in total disarray.
It was men versus boys and the boys belonged to the Barcelona camp. Jurgen Klopp's men were smelling blood at this point with the deafening sound of the Kop spurring them on.
Then in the 79th minute, something remarkable happened. Trent Alexander-Arnold played in a cheeky corner and with Barca players having switched off, Origi slammed the ball into the roof of the net to put the dagger in Barcelona’s heart. Liverpool saw off the final minutes of the game without much fuss.
4-0 it finished to Liverpool, 4-3 on aggregate. Barcelona was dumped out of the Champions League yet again. Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard and Sir Kenny Dalglish, who were present in the stands, had just witnessed the greatest European night at Anfield.
Liverpool was scaling the heights with two players from the Low Countries, Origi from Belgium and Wijnaldum from the Netherlands.
(Featured Image: Twitter/Liverpool)
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Studied at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi. Lives and breathes Football, the beautiful game.