In a second leg tie against a side containing the world’s best player and a couple of lads who desperately wanted to leave Merseyside, Liverpool sent Barcelona back to Span a shell of the team that they thought they were.
Liverpool broke Barca 4-0 in possibly the greatest European night Anfield has ever seen.
No Roberto Firmino, no Mo Salah, no problem! Liverpool’s courage, belief, and brains erased a 0-3 deficit and as such, The Reds return to the Champions League Final for the second consecutive year.
Things could not have started better as Divock Origi struck in the 7th minute. Although they failed to get another before half time, the match was already on its way to finding the knife’s edge.
After Luis Suarez kicked out at Andrew Robertson off the ball forcing Gini Wijnaldum to come on as a substitute after the break, there was a barely time to take a breath. Liverpool continued to press the Catalonian club.
It did not take long for the Dutchman to make his mark. Two goals in two minutes from Wijnaldum squared the tie and piled even more pressure on the Blaugrana. Messi and company stood at ground level of an Anfield unleashed and looked shell shocked.
Then Trent Alexander-Arnold sealed his fate in the history of his boyhood club when he alertly had the entire Barcelona side off with the cheekiest of corners that Origi turned in before anyone blinked.
Madness descended upon Merseyside.
Here are four findings from the match.
For the second consecutive match, Divock Origi booked his name in Liverpool lore. After his late heroics in Newcastle, the Belgian forward bookended his best performance as a Red with the goal that started and ended the Reds’ greatest European home triumph. Both goals were products of sheer determination, alertness, and will. He pounced on a rebound to kindle the comeback and read the situation to slot home the winner. Apart from the goals, he threw himself into the match with abandon, using perception, power, and pace, matching Sadio Mane’s menace. Should Liverpool win the European Cup, a player who looked on his way out will live in legend.
While the minutes seemed to mount on the midfielder’s legs, few can claim to have had a greater impact across the campaign than Gini Wijnaldum. His work-rate, versatility, and selflessness can go overlooked. At times, he frustrates and divides supporter opinion. However, the Dutchman has always been a big game player for the Reds. Surely frustrated not to start, Wijnaldum made the most of every minute on the pitch. Playing as an eight and forcing a shift in the shape of the team meant he could drive forward as a late runner or third man. His two-minute brace blew the tie wide open. Yet, his late piece of dribbling through the midfield left four Barcelona players chasing ghosts added to his Champions League charm.
He is just 20-years-old, and yet he must have been privately frustrated not to start at Camp Nou. Few will ever believe there could be a good reason not start to start Trent Alexander-Arnold in a must-win match. The local lad defied logic in a performance for the ages. Two assists do not even tell the tale. His defensive display will not get the plaudits it deserves because it was going forward that he etched himself in history. Eager to make up for a minor errant pass, Alexander-Arnold picked the ball off Jordi Alba and slashed the cross that Gini Wijnaldum lashed home to reignite all hope for the home side. However, songs will be sung about the brass he showed on the late corner that caught the Spanish side asleep.
The one-time most expensive goalkeeper in the world turned heads upon arriving at Anfield. Alisson Becker has continually justified the cost. Across the campaign, he has probably preserved a dozen points in the league, but he has rarely looked larger than he did against Barcelona. The Brazilian was absolutely immense. With the Catalans needing just a goal to put the tie to bed, Alisson snuffed multiple strikes to keep his most complete clean sheet to date. Denying Phillipe Coutinho and Lionel Messi in the first half fed the home side’s hope. Yet his swashbuckling second-half saves from Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, and Jordi Alba signalled the stars. After last year’s home shutout with Roma, Barcelona must have Becker nightmares.