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Liverpool booked their place in the final of the UEFA Champions League after producing a miracle comeback to beat Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield and complete a 4-3 aggregate win:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
Another Champions League miracle 🔴
Liverpool complete the comeback and are through to the final!
(via @brfootball) https://t.co/aNWnK8xTwv
LeBron James @KingJames
👏🏾‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️‼️ AMAZING NIGHT FOR THE REDS. WOW‼️‼️ #YNWA❤️ https://t.co/n9tuwtaj8z
The Reds got off to a dream start with the opening goal after just seven minutes following a poor header from Jordi Alba.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only parry a shot by Jordan Henderson, and the ball fell to Divock Origi to slot home.
A frantic first half saw Liverpool continue to press and cause the visitors problems, but Barcelona also went close to grabbing an away goal.
Goalkeeper Alisson tipped a Lionel Messi shot over the crossbar, and the Barcelona captain also went close twice with low shots.
Jurgen Klopp was forced to bring on Georginio Wijnaldum for the injured Andy Robertson at half-time, and the Dutch midfielder scored two goals in two minutes to level the tie.
He grabbed his first with a low shot past Ter Stegen after a cross by Trent Alexander-Arnold and then headed Xherdan Shaqiri’s cross past the German goalkeeper to spark wild celebrations.
The game appeared to be heading towards extra-time until Origi secured a memorable win with 11 minutes of normal time remaining.
Alexander-Arnold played a clever corner that caught the Barcelona defence napping and allowed Origi to sweep the ball past Ter Stegen.
B/R Football @brfootball
Trent Alexander-Arnold caught Barca napping
A nightmare for Barcelona. Dreamland for Liverpool https://t.co/fjeSTvG5dw
Liverpool Show They Are Europe’s Top Team
Liverpool’s 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona sends them into the Champions League final for a second year in a row and shows they are the top team in Europe.
The Reds may just miss out on winning the Premier League title this season, but there is no denying that when it comes to European competition they are the team to beat.
The Reds were forced to overcome not just a 3-0 deficit from the first leg, but also the loss of key attackers Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to injury.
In came Origi and Shaqiri, and Liverpool went on the attack from the first minute, roared on by passionate home support (U.S. only):
Origi’s goal gave the Reds optimism that a comeback could be on, and they did not let up throughout the 90 minutes.
Fabinho led the charge with a brilliant performance in midfield full of drive, desire and tenacity:
Robbie Dunne @robbiejdunne
Fabinho on a yellow and he has marked Messi out of the game. Played that perfectly too.
Barcelona were reduced to simply hacking the ball clear at times as they could not cope with Liverpool’s intensity, and the goals duly followed.
Liverpool were guilty of failing to take their chances in the first leg, but they made sure that was not the case at Anfield.
Substitute Wijnaldum made no mistake with his two efforts to level the tie before Origi netted the winner:
Statman Dave @StatmanDave
Georginio Wijnaldum & Divock Origi both scored with 100% of their shots vs. Barcelona tonight.
Everybody said they had to take their chances, they absolutely did. 🙌🙌🙌 https://t.co/gmt04aldMj
Barcelona may have expected Liverpool to tire in the second half after their efforts, but the Reds saw it out with some comfort to complete another memorable night at Anfield:
The Reds will now head into the final against either Ajax or Spurs as heavy favourites to lift the European Cup for a sixth time in their history, and it is difficult to envisage anything other than a Liverpool win.
Valverde Should Be Sacked
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde must take the blame for his side’s humbling at Anfield, as the Spanish champions were once again dumped out of the Champions League after a collapse away from home.
The Catalan giants could have hardly been in better shape going into the tie. They had a healthy first-leg lead and were well-rested after Valverde changed virtually his whole team against Celta Vigo on Sunday.
Barcelona lost Ousmane Dembele in that game due to injury, meaning he was unavailable to play against Liverpool.
Squawka’s Muhammed Butt felt Dembele should have been saved for Tuesday’s match:
Muhammad Butt @muhammadbutt
if Dembélé had been protected and started this game he’d have been slicing through Liverpool at will (whether he’d actually finish any chance is obv. up for debate) https://t.co/ZedFrbL1bx
Barcelona’s cause was not helped by Valverde’s team selection. The Barcelona boss again started with Sergi Roberto at right-back despite the 27-year-old having struggled against Sadio Mane in the first leg.
The decision not to include Nelson Semedo in defence meant Barca suffered from a real lack of pace in attack, as noted by Ben Hayward at the Evening Standard:
Ben Hayward @bghayward
Barcelona have settled after a shaky start. With Dembélé missing, they are lacking pace in this team and that is why Semedo’s exclusion was a surprise. He and Malcom options later in the game… #LIVBAR
Liverpool started predictably strongly and got an early goal, but Barcelona looked shell-shocked and simply could not cope with the Reds’ approach.
The visitors could not keep possession for any length of time and were reduced to making panicked clearances that gifted the ball straight back to the opposition.
Barcelona did have some chances of scoring an away goal, but this time even Lionel Messi could not conjure up a goal.
The result brings back bad memories for Barcelona of last season’s exit at the hands of Roma when Barcelona blew another three-goal lead.
Sports reporter John Bennett said the defeats are what Valverde will be remembered for:
John Bennett @JohnBennettBBC
First Roma… Now Liverpool… Ernesto Valverde has done some good work but he’s going to be remembered for two unforgivable “remontadas”.
Valverde has enjoyed great success in his short time at Barcelona on the domestic front. He has won La Liga twice in his two seasons at the Camp Nou and is on target to win the double for a second time.
However, the Champions League is the trophy the club covet more than anything else, and his inability to deliver the European Cup means it is time for the Catalan giants to part ways with the 55-year-old.
Liverpool go on to face either Tottenham Hotspur or Ajax in the final at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on June 1. Ajax lead Spurs 1-0 after the first leg, and the two teams play again on Wednesday at the Amsterdam Arena.
Barcelona play their penultimate La Liga fixture on Sunday against Getafe at the Camp Nou. Liverpool finish their Premier League campaign at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.