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Liverpool stun Barcelona to reach Champions League final

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7th May, 2019
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Liverpool have beaten Barcelona 4-0 to overturn a three-goal deficit and reach the Champions League final 4-3 on aggregate.

Liverpool delivered the greatest in a long line of famous comebacks to reach the Champions League final on Tuesday, beating 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 has done it in the Champions League era.

The comeback was all the more unlikely given Liverpool were without two of their first-choice strikers, 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.

Given the opposition, a team featuring arguably the greatest ever soccer player in Lionel 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.

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.

Liverpool manager Juergen 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.

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They took that to heart.

An early goal was needed to really give a shaken Barca team the jitters and it arrived after seven minutes, with Origi tapping into an empty net after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen could only parry out a shot by Jordan Henderson.

Wijnaldum, who came on for Andy Robertson, made an almost instant impact, making it 2-0 by sweeping home a low cross from Alexander-Arnold.

Two minutes later, he made another run into the area and met a cross from Xherdan Shaqiri with a firm header into the corner past a flat-footed Ter Stegen.

Then came the coup de grace after cheeky play by Alexander-Arnold. Origi scored and Barcelona had no answer.

Alexander-Arnold said of his quick thinking: “I think it was just instinctive. It was one of those moments where you see the opportunity.”

Origi paid tribute to his team-mates and also the fans who created the atmosphere on which Liverpool thrived.

“I think it was more about the team,” said Origi. “We fought so hard. We fought until the end. It shows we have a good mix of talent and hard work.”

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