Collapse of the century! Valverde,Barca bottlers humiliate themselves in Anfield
Liverpool have pulled off one of the greatest comebacks in football history, demolishing Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield in extraordinary scenes to seal a place in the Champions League final.
In one of the craziest matches you’ll ever see, Divock Origi and Giorginio Wijnaldum each scored twice to reverse a three-goal first leg deficit and dump Lionel Messi and co. out of Europe in the most staggering fashion possible.
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Missing superstars Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, Jurgen Klopp’s side were written off by most ahead of this clash but another magical European night at Anfield has again yielded the unthinkable to rewrite history.
This victory ranks up with alongside that glorious night in Instanbul in 2005 as they reversed a three-goal margin to beat AC Milan to lift the trophy – even for a club with the Reds’ incredible continental history, this shapes as one of the most incredible of all time.
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson claimed his squad’s togetherness ensured they never doubted they could beat the odds against Lionel Messi and his star-studded team.
“Unbelievable! I don’t think many people gave us a chance. We knew it would be difficult but still possible,” Henderson told BT Sport.
“The belief we have in the changing room is amazing. We knew we could do something special at Anfield. Look at the fans and the lads – this is a special night. This is up there with the best.
“We wanted to start fast. We got an early goal which helped. It wasn’t just the goal, it was getting after them and putting them under pressure.
“We knew if we showed personality and heart then we’d have a chance.”
Andy Robertson said they never stopped believing.
“Who’s going to the final? We are. That’s all that matters,” he said.
“I’ve said so many times this season but what a team. We believe. People wrote us off, but we believed if we got off to a good start we could do it.”
Origi gave them the dream start in just the seventh minute to provide a glimmer of hope for this magisterial comeback. But as Alisson made some big stops to deny Messi, Luis Suarez and others in the first half few dreamed this was possible.
As it turned out, this team defied the odds as they have done so often this season, to find another gear and get the job done. An injury to Andy Robertson looked likely to end their hopes, as the Scot was replaced at halftime following a collision with Luis Suarez – but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Wijnaldum said they three-goal defecit never daunted them.
“After the game in Spain, we were confident we could score four at home. Once again we showed that everything is possible in football,” he said.
“We believe it from the start. People from outside, they thought it was not possible but we still managed to do this.”
– ‘I was really angry’ –
Wijnaldum revealed he was frustrated to have been left on the bench after he started the first leg and he channelled that anger into his dynamic second half display.
“I was really angry at the manager that he put me on the bench but I had to do something to help the team when I came on,” he added.
And finally the miracle was completed in the 79th minute in controversial fashion as unlikely hero Origi crowned one of the greatest showings we’ve ever seen. Alexander-Arnold took a quick corner to catch the defence sleeping, and the Belgian kept his cool to slot the ball calmly into the top corner and land one of the craziest comebacks you’ll ever see.
After Messi had led one a demolition at the Camp Nou, the Reds largely kept him quiet in the return leg as they continued to forge forward.
Alisson, a veteran of last season’s Roman miracle to knock off this Barcelona team, was busy and made a string of top saves to keep yet another clean sheet to make it possible.
Jordan Henderson and James Milner ran tirelessly all day while the likes of Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk were massive at the back.
It truly is a triumph against all believability, and one which now sees this incredible season set up for deserved glory. But an absolute disaster for Barcelona, who had zeroed in on this trophy as their ultimate prize for a campaign that has already brought a La Liga triumph.
And with that Liverpool will face Spurs or Ajax in the Champions League final.
Their second European final on the trot.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson Becker; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson; James Milner, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson (capt); Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi, Sadio Mane
Coach: Jurgen Klopp (GER)
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic, Arturo Vidal; Lionel Messi (capt), Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho
Coach: Ernesto Valverde (ESP)