Liverpool FC mounts stunning, 4-goal comeback to dump Lionel Messi and FC Barcelona out of the Champions League for good, advancing to the final
- The result overturned a 3-0 deficit from the first leg at Camp Nou in Spain last week and saw the English team progress to the Champions League final.
- Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum made themselves heroes for the home side, while Lionel Messi cut a forlorn figure for Barça.
- Jurgen Klopp marvelled at his team in a post-match interview with BT Sport, calling Liverpool “f—— mentality giants,” before adding: “Fine me! Fine me if you want.”.
Liverpool entered the match facing a 3-0 deficit from the first leg when the team came unstuck because of a Lionel Messi masterclass at Camp Nou in Spain last week.
To make matters worse, Liverpool missed many key players from Tuesday’s starting line-up like Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah, and Naby Keita.
But the team never wilted, and two new Liverpool heroes announced themselves as Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum summoned the “Spirit of Istanbul” to score two goals each, sending Barça back to Spain empty-handed.
Liverpool is used to securing improbable comebacks having bounced back in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul, overcoming a 3-0 battering at half-time when Steven Gerrard inspired his team to a 3-3 draw and an immortal title win after a wild penalty shoot-out.
This, the team’s 4-0 (4-3 on aggregate) win on May 7, was every bit as epic as that extraordinary victory over AC Milan 14 years ago.
It all began in the seventh minute when Liverpool came out of the starting blocks with intent. Sadio Mane capitalized on a defensive mistake on the right wing and played the ball to Jordan Henderson whose penalty box shot rebounded into Origi’s path, and a near open goal was nothing short of inviting for the Belgian striker.
A score of 1-0 is where it stayed until after half-time, but Wijnaldum doubled Liverpool’s advantage in the 54th minute. If that goal gave the fans hope, the equalizer two minutes later gave them belief, as Wijnaldum once again had the ball in the net — 3-0, and the match, if it stayed there, would be destined for extra-time and, potentially, penalties.
But Liverpool did not want penalties. Liverpool did not even want extra-time, as Trent Alexander-Arnold, arguably the greatest right back in world soccer today, caught Barça’s defense napping in the 79th minute when he outfoxed the backline with an opportunistic corner-kick, which Origi fired past the goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen.
At 4-0 it was game over.
Though the goalscorers attract the headlines, in truth, it was as the old cliche goes, a team effort.
Liverpool’s forwards made the most of the opportunities they were afforded, the midfield was tight, if unspectacular, but Alexander-Arnold and even Andrew Robertson before he was subbed off produced textbook wing-back performances. The game also could not have been won without goalkeeper Alisson keeping his sheet clean, frustrating Barcelona’s players all night long by ensuring the 0 stayed in the 4-0 win.
Perhaps Mane summarized it best after the game when he said: “I don’t know what to say,” on the BT Sport broadcast.
Later, Jurgen Klopp added his thoughts to what is yet another historic Liverpool comeback, another immortal Liverpool story, in a competition the club has excelled in many eras.
“The whole performance, the whole game was too much,” he said. “Overwhelming. I actually would say … I said it was before the game; it was impossible. But to you [the media] I say we have a chance. I never can remember, like this, playing against maybe the best team in the world, not allowed to concede … winning is already difficult but winning with a clean sheet; I don’t know how we did it.
“The boys are f—— mentality giants. Unbelievable. Fine me! Fine me if you want. I’m not native, so I don’t have better words for it!”
Liverpool now advances to the Champions League final at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid on June 1, where it will play the winner of Ajax and Tottenham Hotspur’s semi-final on Wednesday.
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Minds were blown across English football on Tuesday morning as the most unlikely of heroes delivered a famous chapter and perhaps the EPL title.
Manchester City moved to within one win of retaining the Premier League title as captain Vincent Kompany’s thunderous strike earned a nervy 1-0 win over Leicester City on Monday.
The English champions were not as their fluent best, but got the one moment of real quality they needed from an unlikely source as centre-back Kompany unleashed a long-range shot into the top corner 20 minutes from time.
City move back one point clear of Liverpool and will become the first side in a decade to retain the title at Brighton on Sunday as long as they match or better the Reds’ result at home to Wolves.
Kompany’s strike was heralded as one of the goals of the season — and his effort of perhaps securing his team the EPL title was all too much for the veteran.
He was clearly emotional during his lap of honour after the game, prompting speculation Kompany may have played his final ever league game at City’s home stadium.
Kompany is off contract at the end of the season — and was again unable to declare his future after the seismic result.
Manager Pep Guardiola said he will sit down with Kompany over a beer this off-season to have a chat about his future.
“We spoke with him and his agent. At the end of the season we are going to talk to him,” Guardiola said.
“He is an incredible human being and he helps me a lot. Always I was sad I could not use him a lot but this club is what it is because of people like Vincent. At the end of the season after the FA Cup we will see.
It was revealed after the game that Kompany’s own teammates had told him not to shoot just moments before he unleashed his rocket to the top corner.
“Today was a little bit of frustration, everyone was saying ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot’ and I could really hear it; I thought hold on a second, I’ve not come this far in my career for young players to tell me if I can take a shot, and I just had a go,” he said.
“I’ve scored goals like that in training. It’s 15 years I’ve been in top-level football, midfielders telling me ‘don’t shoot, play the ball wide’ and every time they miss, for 15 years I’ve been saying ‘I promise you, one day I’m going to have a shot from outside the box and I’m going to score a goal and you’re going to be really happy with that one’.
“It’s a big goal, we’ve not achieved anything but it was an important win against a very, very strong team.”
After edging past Newcastle 3-2 on Saturday night, Liverpool, who have not won the league since 1990, were left praying that former manager Brendan Rodgers could do them a favour at the Etihad.
Leicester’s marked improvement since Rodgers took charge in February was on show in an impressive display from the visitors as City were made to sweat but just got over the line for a vital three points.
City took time to settle, but the hosts began to impose themselves as the first half wore on.
Sergio Aguero came closest to opening the scoring with a header that clipped the inside of the post and was palmed clear by Kasper Schmeichel.
David Silva also flashed a shot across goal and Schmeichel forced into another comfortable save by Bernardo Silva before the break.
Yet, it was not until after the break that City upped the tempo to lay siege on the Leicester goal.
Raheem Sterling headed a glorious chance over then skewed wide as the pressure built.
Leroy Sane was soon thrown on as an extra attacking weapon and Ilkay Gundogan sent another warning shot across the bows of Schmeichel’s goal.
Sterling then saw huge shouts for a penalty waived away for a shove by Ben Chilwell, but Leicester had the chance to provoke panic inside the Etihad when Harry Maguire drove forward and fed James Maddison, who curled inches wide.
City thought their moment had come when the ball fell kindly for Aguero inside the area, only for Schmeichel to make a miraculous stop.
Kompany looked short of options as he strode forward before unleashing a rocket of a shot that arrowed into the top corner.
Leicester still had a huge chance to answer Liverpool’s prayers three minutes from time, but against his former club Kelechi Iheanacho shot wide with just Ederson to beat and a titanic tussle for the title remains in City’s hands heading into the final day.
MORE ON VINCENT KOMPANY:
Vincent Jean Mpoy Kompany is a Belgian professional footballer who plays as a centre back and captains the English club Manchester City, as well as playing for the Belgium national football team. In the 2011–12 season he was awarded the captaincy of Manchester City, leading his club to win the Premier League that season, their first league title in 44 years.
Kompany began his professional career at Anderlecht, spending three years at the Belgian club before moving to Bundesliga club Hamburg in 2006. In the summer of 2008, at the age of 22, he completed a transfer to his current club, Premier League side Manchester City. He has since established himself as an integral part of the Manchester City squad and is one of the bargain buys of the revolutionised City era, blossoming into one of the Premier League’s best centre-backs. Kompany was included in the Premier League Team of the Year for two years in a row in 2011 and 2012 as well as being included in the 2014 team, and won the Premier League Player of the Season in 2012. Regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, he was listed 23rd in “The 100 Best Footballers in the World” by The Guardian.