Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona: Valverde’s side stunned at Anfield
English Premier League giants Liverpool produced one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history as they overturned a 0-3 deficit to eliminate Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the semi-finals on Tuesday night.
Only one week ago did the 2018-19 La Liga champions thrash Liverpool 3-0 at Camp Nou, though, arguably, many felt the scoreline flattered Barcelona. Few at the time felt Ousmane Dembélé’s careless miss in stoppage time would come back to haunt Ernesto Valverde’s side.
Liverpool took the lead inside seven minutes when Jordi Alba’s careless header fell kindly for Sadio Mané. The Senegalese forward laid the ball into the path of Reds captain Jordan Henderson, whose effort was parried fortunately into the path of Divock Origi to tap home from a couple of yards.
Origi was starting in place of the injured Roberto Firmino, whilst their superstar, Mohamed Salah, was also injured.
Barcelona had opportunities to equalise on the night and score that away goal which would have surely killed off the tie. Lionel Messi’s effort was tipped over the bar by Alisson and Philippe Countinho didn’t connect too well with an effort that was comfortable for the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Alisson did well to close down and deny Jordi Alba in first half stoppage time as the English side went into the break ahead 1-0 but still down 1-3 on aggregate.
Perhaps Liverpool head coach got a lucky break when Andy Robertson went off injured at half-time, replaced by Georginio Wijnaldum. The move saw James Milner moved from central midfield to left-back with the Dutch international forming additional attacking support.
As fortunes would have it, it was Wijnaldum who connected with a low, driven cross from the right by Divock Origi, to power and effort home, below Marc-André ter Stegen. The German goalkeeper would save just three of the seven efforts he faced at Anfield.
Wijnaldum’s first goal came on 54 minutes and his second only two minutes later. This time the Dutch international found space inside the six-yard box to head home at the near post as Xherdan Shaqiri picked him out with a cross from the left wing.
Barcelona rarely tested Alisson in the Liverpool goal during the second 45 minutes and were made to pay 12 minutes from time. Further schoolboy defending from the Spanish league champions.
Trent Alexander-Arnold caught the Barcelona defence napping as they prepared to defend a corner and drove a low cross towards Divock Origi, seven yards out. The striker, unchallenged flicked the ball across goal into the top corner, giving ter Stegen no chance.
4-0 with less than quarter-of-an-hour remaining. One away goal would have been enough from Barcelona, but the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez couldn’t muster anything. Liverpool progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
Ajax host Tottenham Hotspur in the second semi-final tomorrow with the Dutch Eredivisie league leaders bringing a 1-0 advantage back from North London last week.