Jurgen Klopp wanted Tuesday evening to be a celebration for Liverpool. He certainly got that, and then some.
Against all odds, Liverpool completed an incredible comeback, defeating La Liga champions Barcelona 4-0 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate to advance to the UEFA Champions League final, with fringe players making absolutely key contributions. Divock Origi, a backup for most of the season, scored a brace, including the game-winner, and Georginio Wijnaldum, who came on at halftime, scored twice in two minutes to put Liverpool level on aggregate.
[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]
Barcelona had no answer for Liverpool’s energy and the Anfield atmosphere, which was electric all night. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and co. all had their chances, but Liverpool goalkeeper Allison made five saves and came up huge in the first half. Liverpool today was more clinical than Barcelona, and in the end, even a reserve-laden side was clearly better on the night than the Spanish giants.
For Liverpool, it’s back to back appearances in the UEFA Champions League final, where they’ll meet either Tottenham or Ajax. Should Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino be fit for that June 1 date in Madrid, the Reds will certainly be favorites.
It took just six minutes for Liverpool to find the game’s first goal. With Sadio Mane running in on goal, he played Jordan Henderson into the box. Henderson’s shot was saved by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen but it was parried right into the path of Origi, who made no mistake from six yards out.
With the lead and the wind at its back, Liverpool pushed forward looking for more, leaving plenty of space in behind for Barcelona to exploit. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba all had chances on goal but time and time again in the first half, Alisson came up huge. Like Liverpool in the first leg, Barcelona on the road couldn’t find its finishing touch.
In the second half yet again, it took less than 10 minutes for Liverpool to score again. After Trent Alexander-Arnold misplaced a pass, he won the ball back from Alba and dribbled down the right wing. Alexander-Arnold’s cross took a slight deflection and ended at the feet of Wijnaldum, who had only been introduced to the field at halftime.
Like a lightning bolt, Wijnaldum raced onto the ball and fired a strike at goal, one that ter Stegen got a hand to but couldn’t keep out.
Two minutes later, with Liverpool pushing Barcelona to its limits, Wijnaldum tied the score on aggregate. Xherdan Shaqiri, who hasn’t seen much of the field until recently this season, whipped in a glorious cross into the box. Wijnaldum, in the 66th minute, was the only one to rise, met the ball at his apex and headed it into the top corner to send the Anfield crowd into hysterics.
Klopp’s side weren’t finished though. In the 79th minute, Alexander-Arnold looked to be leaving the ball for a teammate to take a corner kick. However, he noticed that Barcelona had lost its focus and ran back to the ball and fired a low cross into Origi. The Belgian met it and first-timed a strike into the side netting to amazingly put Liverpool in the lead.
Over the final 11 minutes plus stoppage time, the Reds held on and secured a most famous win at Anfield, and a ticket to Madrid for the Champions League Final.