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Liverpool on late let-off: “You can’t do that in the Champions League”

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Count Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson among those let down by the final 10 minutes of their UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg on Tuesday.

The Reds took a 5-0 lead and conceded goals to Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti to give the visitors hope with two away goals heading back to Italy for the May 2 second leg.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

“It felt as though we were in full control but we basically gave them two goals, you can’t do that in the Champions League,” Henderson said. “At the same time we played well, we will go there with a three goal advantage.”

Reds center back Virgil Van Dijk was visibly frustrated even when discussing the boss-level effort in building a lead which should be very hard to erase in Rome.

“It was a fantastic evening, lot of good goals,” Van Dijk said. “A lot of passion, frustration, but the last minutes stays in my mind right now. … It can’t happen. Obviously we know Roma have a lot of quality but we need to do better. But we have a 5-2 lead to take with us to Rome. It’s going to be very tough, but we’ll be ready.”

So 3-0 or 4-1 would do it for Roma next week in Italy, but that’s far easier said than done. Liverpool fans won’t be booking too many flights for Ukraine yet, but Jurgen Klopp will be scouting Bayern Munich and Real Madrid on Wednesday with an eye toward Kiev.

UEFA Champions League semifinal predictions

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With the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League to kick off over the next few days, let’s take a look at both games and predict which teams will make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.

[ MORE: Champions League scores

Liverpool or Roma? Real Madrid or Bayern Munich?

Here’s the lowdown as two eagerly anticipated games take center stage across Europe.


Liverpool vs. AS Roma
First leg: Apr. 24, 2:45 p.m. ET at Anfield
Second leg: May 2, 2:45 p.m. ET at Stadio Olimpico

This should be one heck of a tie with defending optional for both teams but both have very different ways of playing. Jurgen Klopp will unleash the fluid trio of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on an often brittle Roma defense but the Italian giants have a giant in their own up top in the shape of Edin Dzeko. How Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool’s defense deal with the threat of Dzeko will likely decide the outcome of this game. Liverpool will look to feed off the famous Anfield atmosphere to wrack up a big first leg lead before they head to Roma for Leg 2, and I fancy Salah to blow his old team away in the first leg. Liverpool to advance 4-2 on aggregate.

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid
First leg: Apr. 25, 2:45 p.m. ET at Allianz Arena
Second leg: May 1, 2:45 p.m. ET at Santiago Bernabeu

A proper heavyweight clash as Bayern and Real do battle knowing that whoever wins will be the favorites in the final. Cristiano Ronaldo is in the form of his life (again) after a slow start to this season and Zinedine Zidane’s side made hard work of it against Juventus in the last round but are on course for a third-straight UCL trophy. As for Bayern, they have been in imperious form and you feel like Robert Lewandowski can get the better of Real’s center backs. Expect this to be a tight game with extremely high quality from both teams. Real being at home in the second leg is a big advantage. Real Madrid to advance 3-2 on aggregate. 

Biggest snubs in Premier League Team of the Year

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With 11 players announced for the PFA Premier League Team of the Year on Wednesday, there is plenty of debate flying around about who deserved to make it and which players were snubbed.

[ MORE: USMNT to play England ]

Bearing that in mind, below is a look at some of the biggest snubs as five players from Man City made it in the team, three for Tottenham and one each from Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool.


Goalkeepers
David De Gea is a worthy selection in the PFA Team of the Year for the fourth-straight season, but Man City’s Ederson will have been a little disappointed. The Brazilian has made a huge difference to City’s defense and ever single defender seems more confident with him in goal, even if he takes risks with his exceptional range of passing. Nick Pope has also had a great season for Burnley after standing in for the injured Tom Heaton.

Defenders
You can’t argue with Kyle Walker at right back. He’s been solid all season long and although Antonio Valencia and Kieran Trippier have been steady, they don’t have the same attacking impact as Walker. As for central defenders, well, Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen getting in wasn’t really a surprise such was the lack of competition in that area. Cesar Azpilicueta and James Tarkowski will feel hard done by, while Virgil Van Dijk has had a strong start to life at Liverpool since arriving at Anfield in January. Otamendi deserves it, but if Toby Alderweireld was fit and playing regularly then he may have been selected over Vertonghen. At left back there aren’t many options and if Benjamin Mendy was fit he would’ve been a strong contender. Ashley Young has been great this season and Andrew Robertson from Liverpool must have been close, such was Robertson’s strong second half of the campaign after becoming a regular.

Midfielders
The only other player you could say should’ve made this midfield is Fernandinho. His destructive style laid the foundation for Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva to be otherworldly (and get in the PFA Team), yet Christian Eriksen has been immense for Spurs and probably deserves to just edge in ahead of Fernandinho. Nemanja Matic‘s strong start should be noted, as to should N'Golo Kante plodding along nicely and Eden Hazard, on his day, ripping teams apart.

Forwards
Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane simply had to be in this team, and they are. Yet the other spot is a real tricky one. Sergio Aguero got the nod as the third striker and with the Argentine waiting seven seasons to get in a PFA TOTY, now was his time as he has 143 goals in 206 PL appearances. AKA the best minutes per goal rate in PL history. Yet when you look around the league, the likes of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane will feel aggrieved to not get in this team. Perhaps Sane and Sterling could’ve been in midfield over Eriksen, while Firmino and Mane have been outshone by Salah’s goalscoring but have been hugely important in Liverpool’s fine season. You can only pick 11 players and you can make a solid argument that at least seven forwards deserved a spot…

Everything is coming up Liverpool

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Is a Liverpool victory in the UEFA Champions League written in the stars?

While defeating AS Roma is no easy task, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds avoided Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in Friday’s semifinal draw.

[ MORE: UCL draw | Europa draw ]

A potential 90-minute battle with Real Madrid or Bayern Munich for a sixth UCL title is drastically better than two legs, and don’t sleep on the idea that a final would occur after Liverpool has decided its Premier League standing.

Roma is no pushover, knocking out Barcelona after winning a group with Chelsea and Atletico Madrid, but it’s working way too hard to claim this draw was anything but the best case scenario for the Reds.

Liverpool’s last round defeat of Manchester City was by far the toughest ask of a relatively straight-forward path to the semis, though it started with admittedly the toughest route out of the playoff round with Bundesliga side Hoffenehim.

The Reds drew Porto in the Round of 16, waltzing to a 5-0 aggregate win after facing one of, if not the easiest draws in the group stage (Sevilla, Spartak Moscow, Maribor).

To boot: While Roma was very good over two legs and unlucky in the first, surely Liverpool wasn’t counting on Barcelona blowing a 4-1 first leg advantage to i Lupi.

Even the league fixtures benefit Liverpool’s odds against Roma, with the Reds traveling to West Brom before the first leg and hosting Stoke City before the second.

While Roma’s fixture list isn’t especially tough, it features a pile up. I Lupi have a three-match week ending with a visit to SPAL before the first leg, and hosts Chievo Verona before Liverpool hits Rome for the second leg.

No team in the semifinal has gotten there by luck, and Liverpool may just be taking strong steps toward reclaiming its status as a world power.

There’s no question the Reds’ attack, paced by the incredible Mohamed Salah, is as exciting as any in the world. Virgil Van Dijk has helped improve the defense, but the Reds are doing it with a midfield missing a key box-to-box piece (That void will be filled by Naby Keita next season).

Klopp deserves plenty of credit for doing this without a real disruptor in the center of the park, although Emre Can may be the most under-appreciated piece of his set-up. And he’s been regularly untested full backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in what’s turned out to be a masterstroke.

In other words, Klopp’s project probably didn’t expect to be challenging for a Champions League win at this stage of his Anfield revolution. And it’s fair to say they should be playing relatively carefree with the house’s money as the final month of the season approaches Merseyside.

Que SeraSera, indeed.

Guardiola sent to stands for 2nd half; G. Jesus, Dzeko goals (video)

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The UEFA Champions League is 45 minutes away — 90 combined — from knowing its first two semifinalists.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Both Manchester City and AS Roma have put a dent in their comeback bids with early goals, but still remain three and two goals shy of victory.

Manchester City 1-0 (1-3 aggregate) Liverpool

And then there’s this, as a furious Pep Guardiola will not be in the coach’s seat for the second half after arguing with referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz. There were five yellow cards in the first half, and Man City was denied a goal when a ball came off Karius and Milner before a ruled offside Jesus put it in the goal.

Heads whipped up to the clock. It read just over two minutes, and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus had just shaped a shot around the splayed Loris Karius to make it 3-1 on aggregate.

There was controversy in the start of the play, as Raheem Sterling knocked into Virgil Van Dijk while the Liverpool man was hoofing a long ball.

Sterling then keyed the opener, and Jesus slotted to make it 1-0.

AS Roma 1-0 (2-4 aggregate) Barcelona

Barcelona has only lost once in 48 matches, but that mark is under fire at the minimum as Edin Dzeko‘s sixth minute marker has i Lupi deservedly on top in Rome.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]