Liverpool did the unthinkable after beating Barcelona on a balmy night at Anfield by four goals to nil, winning the tie 4-3 on aggregate to move into their second successive UEFA Champions League Final.
It was one of the most unforgettable nights in Liverpool’s illustrious history, made all the more incredible when you consider Jürgen Klopp’s ‘boys’ began without the injured Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
Injuries meant a rare start for Divock Origi, and it was the Belgian who opened the scoring in the seventh minute, finishing from close range after Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved from Jordan Henderson, after a driving run full of intent from the Liverpool captain.
The recipe demanded an early goal, but Liverpool couldn’t add to it before half time. Instead, it was the Catalans who had the better chances with Lionel Messi bringing Alisson to life with a snapshot and then blasting wide from a corner, but the magical man was a shadow of the star who destroyed Liverpool in the first leg with those two goals.
The half time break was a critical moment for Liverpool with Andy Robertson unable to continue after an earlier tussle with Luis Suarez. Klopp sent on Georginio Wijnaldum, and within ten minutes of the restart, the Dutch star had created so much hope Anfield was at bursting point.
With 54-minutes on the clock, Trent Alexander-Arnold robbed a Barcelona defender before raiding down the right. The young full-back looked up, saw Wijnaldum sprinting into the area, and his low cross found him.
Wijnaldum put the ball into the back of the next, and Liverpool were 2-0 up.
Two minutes later, Wijnaldum did it again, wiping out Barcelona’s advantage, this time heading home at the near post after a cross from Xherdan Shaqiri.
But Barcelona would score, right?
Barcelona always scores.
Not on this night, in fact, they didn’t even look like scoring with the only chance of the second half easily saved by Alisson at the near post from Messi.
Then in the 79th-minute a magical moment for Alexander-Arnold.
Liverpool won a corner on the right, and as Barcelona was setting up their defensive line, Alexander-Arnold feigned to leave the corner to someone else, before spotting Origi in acres of space. Alexander-Arnold quickly ran back to the corner, found Origi in the box and the Belgian found the top corner – cue ecstasy.
Barcelona bombed forward as you would expect, but the Liverpool backline handled them with ease. There were jubilant celebrations at the final whistle with numerous Liverpool players in tears as Anfield erupted in a chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone.
It was such a deserved win for Liverpool, who outplayed Barcelona at the Nou Camp for long periods of the game despite losing 3-0. They become the second English side to make back-to-back Champions League finals since Man Utd in 2008 & 2009.
If you had a punt before the match at Liverpool making the final, you would have found odds of 18/1. For Barcelona, it’s another disaster after going out in the quarter-finals last year after once again losing a three-goal first leg lead.
Liverpool will compete in their ninth Champions League Final in Madrid on June 1, as the firm favourites with Ajax playing Tottenham Hotspur in the second Semi-Final on Wednesday night, and for the first time since 2013, you will not see either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in the final.