Liverpool FC best FC Barcelona 4-0, 4-3 on aggregate, to advance on to the Champions League Final.
Liverpool entered their second match against Barcelona today with the deck stacked decidedly against them. Down three points to Barcelona, and with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino missing due to injury, the outlook for Liverpool looked bleak.
Head Coach Jurgen Klopp was forced to make changes to his starting XI, with Origi and Shaqiri as starters. Barcelona’s starting XI would remain the same as the previous match, including the ever dangerous Lionel Messi.
In a press conference the day before the match, Klopp was surprisingly optimistic. He recognized that to win against Barcelona and advance would be a monumental task for the team, but said that Liverpool would have to take it, ‘step by step.’ To win against Barcelona, Klopp said his team would have to be ‘perfect’, containing Messi and Barcelona and denying them any opportunity to score, while creating abundant chances themselves. Barring the chance for a victory, Klopp said Liverpool should, “fail in the most beautiful way . . . with a close result.”
There would be no beautiful failure for Liverpool though. Klopp’s steadfastness and optimism, the team’s determination, and the support of the atmostphere at Anfield saw the team stage a historic comeback.
Origi put the Reds on the board early with a goal in the 7′. At the half, Liverpool was up 1-0, but still losing on aggregate, 1-3. The effort from the team was admirable, but, there was doubt as to whether or not Liverpool would prevail over Barcelona.
Another goal in the 54′ by Wijnaldum accelerated the momentum of the second half. He scored again two minutes later in the 56′, bringing Liverpool and Barcelona level on aggregate, 3-3. It was now anyone’s match.
Messi created several dangerous chances for Barcelona, but the ball just couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Then, in the 79′, Origi scored Liverpool’s fourth goal of the match. The Reds had just surpassed Barcelona. Another tense ten minutes ensued, followed by five minutes of stoppage time. In the end, Origi and Wijnaldum’s goals propelled Liverpool to their 9th Champion’s League Final.
Mohamed Salah was seen wearing a shirt emblazoned with the phrase, ‘never give up.’ It seemed he knew, just as Klopp did, that the Reds were capable of an astounding victory. No beautiful failure necessary.