Thursday, April 18, 2024

Liverpool stun Barcelona with Champions League comeback

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LIVERPOOL, England – Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history to beat Barcelona 4-0 on Tuesday, overturning a three-goal first-leg deficit and advancing to their second successive final with a 4-3 aggregate victory.

Two goals each from stand-in forward Divock Origi and half-time substitute Georginio Wijnaldum left Lionel Messi and Barcelona utterly shell-shocked after a Liverpool performance full of passion, belief and determination.

Juergen Klopp’s side will play the winner of Wednesday’s other semi-final between Ajax Amsterdam and Tottenham Hotspur, with the Dutch side leading 1-0 from the first leg in London. 

“It was overwhelming. I would say it’s impossible,” said Klopp, amid wild celebrations at the final whistle when his team stood in front of their famous Kop stand to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone with fans.

“Playing against the best team in the world. Winning with a clean sheet, I don’t know how the boys did it. It’s unbelievable,” added the German.

“I saw James Milner crying after the game on the pitch. It means so much to all of us. There are more important things in the world but creating this emotional atmosphere together is so special.”

Liverpool became only the third team in the history of the European Cup or Champions League to come from three goals down after the first leg of a semi-final and progress after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona themselves in 1985-86.

It was a night that will be remembered by Liverpool fans alongside their fifth European Cup win in Istanbul in 2005, when they came back from 3-0 down at half-time to win on penalties.

For Barca, who went out on away goals to AS Roma in the quarter-finals last year, after winning the first-leg 4-1, it was a bitter occasion that will raise many questions for coach Ernesto Valverde.

Messi, whose two goals in the first leg had given his team a seemingly comfortable advantage, was unable to influence the game with an away goal that would have been decisive.

The scoreline was remarkable enough in itself, but the fact that Liverpool overcame five-times European champions Barcelona without two thirds of their usual strike force made it extraordinary.

With inspirational Egyptian Mohamed Salah and key Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino injured, Juergen Klopp had to play Belgian reserve Origi alongside Sadio Mane, with Swiss attacking midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri also given a rare start. (Reuters)

 

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