AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino

Liverpool advances to Champions League Final

Leave a comment
  • Liverpool qualifies for 8th UCL Final
  • First since losing to AC Milan in 2007
  • Will face Real Madrid on May 26 in Kiev
  • WATCH: Goals from Mane, Wijnaldum

Georginio Wijnaldum and Sadio Mane scored in Wednesday’s 4-2 UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg loss as Liverpool advanced past Roma 7-6 on aggregate to clinch a berth opposite Real Madrid in the final.

Radja Nainngolan scored twice to go with an Edin Dzeko marker and a James Milner own goal but i Lupi was sloppy with the final ball for most of the match.

Liverpool’s eighth UCL Final berth ties Barcelona for the fifth-most all-time, behind Real Madrid, Juventus, Bayern Munich, and AC Milan.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Nainngolan’s mistake on the left of midfielder allowed Liverpool a 3v2 break on i Lupi.

Roberto Firmino led the rush, and his pass was in tune with Sadio Mane’s run. The Senegalese forward buried his chance beyond the reach of Alisson.

The lead didn’t last, as Roma got a goal back when Patrik Schick’s pressure forced Dejan Lovren into a clearance that bounded off James Milner’s face and past Loris Karius. Roma would again need three more goals, and had 75 minutes.

Alisson dragged his back leg to make a great save on Mane, but Wijnaldum restored the four-goal cushion in the 26th minute with a header off a corner kick.

Stephan El Shaarawy saw a deflected effort bound off the post in the 35th minute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

El Shaarway’s 52nd minute shot rebounded to Dzeko, who scored for the fifth-straight UCL game to pull Roma within three.

Cenzig Under flicked an over-the-top pass toward goal, but it bounded to Karius as it remained 2-2 at the hour mark.

Trent Alexander-Arnold could’ve given away a penalty when he blocked an in-tight shot with his hand, but there was no call.

Nainngolan smashed a 23-yard shot across goal and off both goal posts to make it 3-2 in the 87th minute.

Ragnar Klavan handled a ball in the second of three minutes of stoppage time, and Nainngolan scored that one, too.

CL Preview: Liverpool looks to finish the deal vs. Roma

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Real Madrid is already into the Champions League final. It would appear that Liverpool has one foot in the match as well, but there are 90 minutes more to take care of before that is for sure.

The Reds hold a 5-2 first-leg advantage after stomping Roma at the Kop, but it’s that 1 that has fans worried. After a stunning first 70 minutes that looked to be the best Liverpool performance maybe in years, the final 20 ticks were nervy, ruining the clean sheet and giving the second leg in the Italian capital more than a smidge of intrigue.

Can Roma do it again?

The Italian club stunned runaway La Liga champions Barcelona just last round, reversing a 4-1 first-leg deficit and winning the second meeting 3-0 and advancing on away goals. Now, they’ll need a repeat performance of that once-in-a-generation comeback, a task so tall considering Liverpool’s form.

But Barcelona was in good form too. In fact, they haven’t lost all season in league play, a stunning invincible record that has seen them already confirmed as league champions. Somehow, Roma kept Lionel Messi and company out of the net and grabbed the three goals required to advance.

And yet, if Barcelona was a mountain to climb, this is Kilimanjaro. The Reds feature Mohamed Salah, a player not only in contention for Premier League Player of the Season, but also maybe in the best form of any attacker in the world. If Liverpool scores once, Roma would need four. If Liverpool scores twice, Roma would need six, effectively ending the tie.

Reds manager Jurgen Klopp thinks that while Barcelona may have been naive, Liverpool certainly is not, thanks to red flags from the comeback in the previous round. “Barcelona thought probably that it’s decided,” he said. “Everybody is telling us that it’s possible for Roma to beat us 3-0 or 4-0. Nobody told Barcelona. Not that I needed it but, we have the warning.”

The main scoring threat for Roma could come in the form of former Premier League striker Edin Dzeko. The Bosnia & Herzegovina international will play against Liverpool for the 13th time in his career across all competitions, the most against any team he has ever faced, level with Bayern Munich. He has four goals in those games, but Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco expects big things from their leader.

“All the players need to feel responsible and be pleased about that [feeling],” Di Francesco said in his pre-match press conference. “As coach, I’m pleased to have this responsibility, but the players are the ones doing it on the pitch. Even more so with Dzeko – I hope he can be our Salah from the first leg, so he can pull things back and determine a great comeback. A player of his quality, ability – it’s right that he has this responsibility.”

Part of winning the Champions League is shocking the world, part of it is overcoming adversity, but part of it is also taking care of business. That is what Liverpool need to do on Wednesday, with kickoff from Stadio Olimpico at 2:45 p.m. ET. If they complete the performance, a date with Real Madrid in the final awaits – a worthy adversary expected to prevail but also with plenty of fallacies. That opportunity will not come if they do not take care of business.

Comeback kids Roma defiant after loss: “We are not beaten yet”

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

AS Roma turned around a three-goal first leg deficit against Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, and i Lupi feel prepared to do it against Liverpool, too.

Roma fell 5-2 to the Reds on Tuesday, but again struck late to bring away goals back to Italy. This time, it was Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti ruining a host’s clean sheet.

[ MORE: Match recap | Klopp reacts ]

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco was not thrilled with his side on the night. From ASRoma.com/En:

“We weren’t on their level tonight – we were lacking a bit of strength and physical presence,” he said. “We let them swamp us too easily on occasion.”

A better second leg is almost assured, but can Roma complete another comeback?

“I have total belief,” Di Francesco said. “You can’t just give in during a game, especially in this type of competition. Sometimes you take a few hits, but the team wasn’t able to stay in the game and at times we lost a bit of unity.”

Sporting director Monchi admits that he thought his side was cooked before Dzeko opened Roma’s account.

“Up until the final 10 minutes we were out of the competition,” he said. “Now we still have some hopes, and we must take this small chance and do the same thing we did against Barcelona.”

Former Spurs defender Federico Fazio, now with Roma, thinks it can be done.

“We always focus on the positives,” said Fazio. “We are fighters and we will give absolutely everything until the last second. We are not beaten yet, once again with the strength of our fans behind us we will fight to the last moment to try and turn this tie around.”

Klopp reacts to Liverpool’s 5-2 win, Ox’s “bad news” injury

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
1 Comment

Liverpool won Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League semifinal 5-2 against Roma at Anfield, but it’s show-stopping 80-minute isn’t carrying a ton of momentum in the echoes of the final whistle.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 5-2 Roma ]

That’s because of two factors:

  1. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was stretchered off the field with an ugly injury
  2. The two in the score line came in the final 10 minutes, as Liverpool almost inexplicably lost focus.

Before we get to Point No. 2, here’s Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp on “The Ox”:

“Oxlade-Chamberlain is probably a really bad injury,” Klopp said on BT Sport in England. “That is bad news for us. The squad doesn’t get bigger at the moment so we need to be creative in the next few games.”

As for the Roma goals, Klopp was frustrated but ultimately happy to walk away with a three-goal lead.

Edin Dzeko headed home the Roma opener in the 81st minute before Diego Perotti converted a penalty kick after James Milner handled a ball in the box. Roma collected shot attempts in the final 10 minutes to finish the match 21-14 in Liverpool’s favor.

Klopp did not think it should have been a PK.

“Long term perfect performance for pretty much 80 minutes or so,” he said, via the BBC. “We made defensively one mistake. Penalty is not a penalty but that is the situation and now it is 5-2. Of course we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again.”

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

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
Leave a comment

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.