Wed | Dec 1, 2021

Stunning! - Liverpool shock Barcelona in delightful UCL comeback

Published:Wednesday | May 8, 2019 | 12:23 AM
Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game during the Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield, Liverpool, England, yesterday. Liverpool won 4-0 to progress to the final.
Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum (centre) celebrates scoring his side’s third goal of the game during the Champions League Semi Final, second leg match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield, Liverpool, England, yesterday. Liverpool won 4-0 to progress to the final.

LIVERPOOL, England (AP):

Liverpool delivered the greatest in a long line of famous comebacks to reach the Champions League final yesterday, beating Lionel Messi’s Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first leg.

Divock Origi scored twice, either side of goals by half-time substitute Georginio Wijnaldum early in the second half, to send Liverpool into their second straight final and set up a meeting with either Ajax or Tottenham on June 1.

It was only the third time in the history of the European Cup that a team came from three goals down after the first leg of a semi-final and progressed to the final, after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona in 1985-86. No team had done it in the Champions League era.

“The people from outside, they doubted us and thought we couldn’t do it,” Wijnaldum said. “But once again, we showed that everything is possible.”

The comeback was all the more unlikely, given that Liverpool were without two of their first-choice forward line, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.

Instead, it was Origi – the scorer of the crucial fourth goal in the 79th minute – who made the seemingly impossible possible. And it needed some remarkable ingenuity from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who pretended to walk away from taking a corner before quickly spinning round and sending in a low cross as Barcelona’s players dawdled. Origi swept in the finish.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he didn’t even see what happened at the corner.

“We had to be serious. But we needed to be cheeky as well,” Klopp said. “Barcelona defend predictable things well, but you need to be unpredictable at moments. I saw the ball flying in the net; I didn’t see the corner. [Substitute] Ben Woodburn looked at me and said, ‘What happened?’”

Given the opposition, a team featuring arguably the greatest player ever in Messi, this will likely rank as Liverpool’s greatest European performance, rivalling the comeback from three goals down against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

There was also the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne in the 1977 European Cup and the 4-3 win from 2-0 down against Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 Europa League quarter-finals.

For Barcelona, it was the second year in a row that they let a three-goal lead slip, having beaten Roma 4-1 at home in the quarter-finals in 2018 before losing the return leg 3-0 to go out.

“I apologise to the fans,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said, “because after the Rome thing, it happens again. It is very hard to fall like that.”

Klopp had delivered a stirring speech on the eve of the game, telling his players to “fail in a beautiful way” if they were to get eliminated.

They took that to heart.