Europa League: Liverpool score 3 unanswered to win instant classic with Dortmund

AP Photo/Jon Super

A roundup of Thursday’s quarterfinal second-leg fixtures in the UEFA Europa League…

Liverpool* 4-3 (5-4 agg.) Borussia Dortmund

Wow. Just…wow. What have we just witnessed? Let’s start from the very beginning…

[ MORE: “You’ll Never Walk Alone” — A Liverpool-Dortmund duet ]

There have been better starts to games in the stories history of Liverpool, that much is for certain. From a fairly comfortable position, 1-1 after the first leg with a vitally important away goal, to 3-1 down on aggregate with two away goals shipped inside the second leg’s first 10 minutes.

The second half began much more positively than the first for Liverpool. Less than three minutes into the final 45, and Divock Origi pulled one back for the hosts, with credit to Emre Can for that delightful through ball.

That lifeline was thought to be short-lived, though, as Marco Reus made it 3-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate with three away goals for Der BVB less than 10 minutes later.

And then, things got really, really real for Dortmund. Philippe Coutinho pulled one back in the 66th minute and Mamadou Sakho pulled the Reds back to 4-4 on aggregate, within a single goal of advancing to the semifinals, with 12 minutes of regular time remaining.

So close, yet still oh so far from glory for Liverpool (again), right? Wrong, because Dejan Lovren — yes, Dejan Lovren — was ready to be a hero and send the Reds through to the Europa League semifinals from just about the unlikeliest of circumstances. Istanbul in 2005 it was not, but one of the most exciting, captivating and most dramatic games of football I’ve ever witnessed, it absolutely was. Take it away, Dejan…

Elsewhere in Europa League

Sevilla* 1-2 (3-3 agg. — 5-4 PKs) Athletic Bilbao
Sparta Prague 2-4 (3-6 agg.) Villarreal*
Shakhtar Donetsk* 4-0 (6-1 agg.) Braga