Liverpool reach Champions League final after miracle victory over Barcelona



Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and half-time substitute Georginio Wijnaldum saw a Liverpool side written off without two of their best players, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino, thump the Spanish champions 4-0, in feat that must surely rival even the turnaround in Istanbul as one of the finest in the club’s history.

With Firmino and Salah out injured, Jurgen Klopp gave starts to Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri in attack, while Virgil Van Dijk was fit despite a late injury scare on Monday.

Having rested his entire first XI for the 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo at the weekend, Ernesto Valverde returned to same line-up that had started in the Nou Camp a week ago, meaning both Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez featured on their old stomping ground.

In the days since that duo departed, Liverpool’s fab three of Firmino, Salah and Sadio Mane have become Anfield’s attacking heroes, but, as it was at Newcastle on Friday night, it was unlikely hero Origi who gave Reds fans reason to celebrate when he opened the scoring inside ten minutes.

was at Newcastle on Friday night, it was unlikely hero Origi who gave Reds fans reason to celebrate when he opened the scoring inside ten minutes.

Jordi Alba was at fault, nodding a wayward Joel Matip pass straight to Mane, and he fed Jordan Henderson, who weaved between two challenges before forcing Marc-Andre Ter Stegen into a low parry that left Origi with a tap-in.

The Belgian might have had another opening moments later had he not hesitated in chasing down an underhit back pass from Sergio Busquets, before Mane had a penalty appeal waved away.

At the other end, Suarez was, predictably, front and centre, earning chants of ‘cheat!’ from the home crowd for his playacting in a running feud with Brazilian midfielder Fabinho.

Fellow returnee Coutinho preferred to do his talking on the ball, and his curled effort from Lionel Messi’s pass provided Alisson with his first real work of the night.

Both James Milner and Fabinho put in hefty challenges on pantomime villain Suarez, the latter picking up a booking for his troubles, before the Uruguayan turned his attentions to Andy Robertson, renewing a rivalry that had begun in the Nou Camp tunnel a week ago with a kick out that would end eventually end the left back’s evening.

The Scot battled through to half-time, but was replaced at the interval by Wijnaldum, with Milner slotting in at full back.

You could wield every cliche in the book about the next goal being crucial, and both side almost had it within five minutes of the restart as Van Dijk backheeled into the arms of Ter Stegen, before Suarez extracted another sharp save from Alisson.

By the 56th minute though, Liverpool didn’t just have the next goal in the tie – they had the next two.

First, Trent Alexander-Arnold fizzed a trademark cutback into the path of the arriving Wijnaldum, who swept a powerful drive effort straight through Ter Stegen, who must’ve seen it late.

Then, within 31 seconds of the restart, before Barca had even had time to properly consider a repeat of the debacle of Rome a year ago, Wijnaldum was at it again, this time allowed to jump free as a bird to nod Shaqiri’s cross into the top corner and send Anfield into a state of giddy euphoria.

The visitors were rattled, and their tactic of trying to keep the ball at the back to take the sting out of the game only served to invite Liverpool on. 

Having scaled the mountain though, the hosts were also keen to calm things down, knowing an away goal would send them tumbling back to base camp.

Barca’s panicked state had not abided, typified by Nelson Semedo, just on as a substitute, deciding a cynical tug was the only way to halt Mane’s progress out wide, despite being both fresh and no slouch himself.

But from frantic and jumpy one moment, the Barca backline suddenly went to sleep, and were ruthlessly punished by a moment of genius from 20-year-old Alexander-Arnold.

The England man feigned to leave a corner to Shaqiri, only to spot Origi unmarked in the middle as Barca held a mother’s meeting over marking duties, and whip a ferocious low ball in that the Belgian helped brilliantly into the top corner.

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