Liverpool's Champions League comeback

Kop-a-hoop

From left: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum celebrating with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson after scoring their third goal in the 4-0 Champions League semi-final, second-leg win over Barcelona on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS
From left: Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum celebrating with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson after scoring their third goal in the 4-0 Champions League semi-final, second-leg win over Barcelona on Tuesday. PHOTO: REUTERS

Reds overcome odds to reach 2nd successive final, aim to make amends for last term's loss

LONDON • Unbelievable, unforgettable, unyielding. For many years to come, Liverpool fans will recall with pride what their passionate, inspired team did on Tuesday night.

They overturned the odds, they overwhelmed Lionel Messi, they overcame Barcelona. They made history. They reached the Champions League final for the second straight year.

This was supposedly mission impossible, but Liverpool believed and so Anfield celebrated the greatest night in its long, glorious European history.

It was classic red fury from the Jurgen Klopp heavy metal playbook.

When they come out and play like this, there is something brilliantly reckless about them. Wherever this team go from here, whatever they end up winning, you suspect moments like these will remain the fondest memories.

There was so much to savour for the Reds faithful - the doubles of Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum, the tireless running of Trent Alexander-Arnold, the leadership of skipper Jordan Henderson, the unending work of Sadio Mane and the five huge saves of Alisson.

On European nights, Liverpool seem to do the most extraordinary things of all.

Klopp had used his pre-match programme notes to pay tribute to his "monsters" for the way his side had kept fighting throughout the season, taking the Premier League title race to the final day.

Yet coming into the reverse fixture of their semi-final and three goals down with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita missing, it appeared to have been a campaign when they seemed to have won everything - points and admiration - but no trophies.

Instead, a season of oh-so-close moments may just have become one of the most remarkable of all after a 4-0 crushing of Barcelona that reportedly left Messi inconsolable in the dressing room.

Liverpool will travel to the June 1 final in Madrid as the favourites to lift their sixth European Cup. Despite Klopp's record in major finals - he won his first and has lost the next six - few will bet against him.

Hailing his players as "mentality giants", the German said: "I know what everybody says about me and losing finals, that's alright.

ALWAYS ALERT

It was just instinctive. It was just one of those moments where you see the opportunity and obviously Div (Origi) was switched on to finish it off.

TRENT ALEXANDER-ARNOLD, on the corner kick routine that caught out Barcelona for the winner.


ALWAYS TRYING

If only winners have the right to exist, we can pack it all to one spot and stop trying. Life for me is trying and trying over and over again - and having fun and feeling passion while trying.

JURGEN KLOPP, on his losing record in finals.

"But it's the fourth final that we are in and that's pretty special already. Last year, we really felt we have to go back (after the 3-1 loss to Real Madrid in Kiev), we have to go back we can't let it stand like this.

"With any other team, I wouldn't think it (the comeback) was possible. Putting in a performance like this on the pitch is unbelievable.

"I am really proud to be the manager of this team. What they did tonight was really special. I will remember it forever. We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality."

Henderson also revealed Klopp's team talk prediction of "a special night to tell their grandchildren about" had galvanised the players, adding: "The players could see that the manager believed, which helped us believe in what he said.

"No matter what happens, you keep fighting right until the final whistle goes. We will continue to do that on Sunday and in the final as well. Two big games to look forward to, we just have to keep that spirit and then we will be OK."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 09, 2019, with the headline 'Kop-a-hoop'. Print Edition | Subscribe