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Liverpool complete epic comeback v. Barcelona, reach UCL final (video)

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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.

Premier League Friendly Roundup: Leicester, Norwich in action

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Ayoze Perez got off to a great start for his new club on Tuesday, as Leicester topped Scunthorpe United, 1-0.

Perez, who arrived earlier this month from Newcastle in a $38 million transfer, scored on a first-time strike in the box that proved to be the difference in the game.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brendan Rodgers side got a chance to get minutes for plenty of first-team regulars. Johnny Evans, Jamie Vardy, Perez and Youri Tielemans all started. Wes Morgan, new signing James Justin, Rachid Ghezzal all came off the bench.

An interesting note was that Harry Maguire, the target of serious transfer interest from Manchester United, came off the bench at halftime and played the second half of the game. According to the latest reports, Man United and Leicester City are still very far apart regarding a transfer fee, so Maguire looks set to remain for the time being.

Elsewhere, Norwich City continued its preseason tour of Germany with a friendly match held behind closed doors. Norwich beat Bonner SC, 4-1, with goals from Adam Idah, Onel Hernandez and Teemu Pukki.

UCL Roundup: Red Star, The New Saints (Wales) advance to second round

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Second legs are underway in the UEFA Champions League first qualification round, and both Red Star Belgrade and The New Saints from Wales are through to the second round.

Here’s a short roundup of UCL action on Tuesday:


Red Star Belgrade 2-1 Sudova (2-1 on Aggregate)

The Serbian giants advance to the next round with a big 2-1 win over Lithuanian Champions Sudova. Richmond Boakye and former Chelsea midfielder Marko Marin both scored in the first half. Red Star Belgrade was set to keep a clean sheet but Sudova scored late.

With the win, Red Star Belgrade moves on to face HJK Helsinki in Finland in the second round.


The New Saints 1-0 Feronikeli (3-2 on aggregate)

Welsh Premier League side The New Saints defeated Kosovan club Feronikeli, 1-0, thanks to a goal from Irish forward Dean Ebbe. Ebbe came off the bench and headed home a lofted ball into the box.

Feronikeli had chances to take the lead early, including twice in the first ten minutes, but blasted shots in the box well over the wall.

UEFA Champions League Second Leg Results

Shkendija 1 – 2 Nõmme Kalju 
Saburtalo 1 – 3 FC Sheriff
Valletta 1 – 1 F91 Dudelange
HB 2 – 2 HJK 

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

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In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.

MLS Notes: Shea out for season with torn ACL, and more

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It appeared Brek Shea had finally gotten his career back on track, only for a serious injury to end his season prematurely.

Atlanta United announced on Tuesday that Shea had suffered a “right knee injury” that will involve season-ending surgery. An earlier report from the Athletic stated it was a torn ACL, which could leave Shea sidelined into the start of next season.

[READ: de Ligt arrives in Turin]

Shea has made 10 starts out of 19 appearances so far this season for Atlanta, where he’s often played as a left wing back or left midfielder, offering speed down the flank and a deeper starting position to connect with Atlanta’s talented attackers. A good season from Shea could have propelled him back into the USMNT conversation, especially if he took part in next season’s January camp. Now, that option is off the table.

Here’s some more MLS news and notes:

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