UEFA Champions League Classics: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Watch this 2018/19 semi-final decider in full on UEFA.tv – after reading this.

Divock Origi after scoring the decisive goal at Anfield
Divock Origi after scoring the decisive goal at Anfield

At 3-0 down following the first leg of their 2018/19 UEFA Champions League semi-final, injury-ravaged Liverpool looked dead in the water. Not so.

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Context

First leg highlights: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool
First leg highlights: Barcelona 3-0 Liverpool

But for missed chances and clinical Barcelona finishing, Liverpool might have won the opening leg at Camp Nou; as it was, Ernesto Valverde's side ran out with a 3-0 victory – a commanding lead in any circumstances, and even more so when the Reds lost Roberto Firmino (groin) and Mohamed Salah (head) to injury for the return fixture. "Two of the world's best strikers are not available for tomorrow and we have to score four goals to go through," said Jürgen Klopp on the eve of the rematch. "It doesn't make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch we will try."

Key players

Georginio Wijnaldum: A regular starter at Anfield, the Dutchman admitted after the game that he was "really angry that the manager put me on the bench" in the Barcelona decider. He would put that fury to good use when he came on.

Alisson Becker: When Liverpool came off worst in the 2018 UEFA Champions League final, some put it down to goalkeeping errors. Signed in summer 2018 from Roma to shore up their rearguard, Alisson’s shot-stopping impressed against Barcelona.

2018/19 Champions League: top ten goals
2018/19 Champions League: top ten goals

Divock Origi: With Sadio Mané the only fit member of Liverpool's attacking trident, Jürgen Klopp had to make good use of his squad, with Belgian striker Origi invited to make a rare start after scoring the winner off the bench in a league game against Newcastle.

What happened

Jürgen Klopp's side took the lead on the night when Divock Origi poked in after Marc-André ter Stegen had parried a Jordan Henderson shot, although Barcelona could have hauled themselves level before the interval, Alisson denying Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho.

Georginio Wijnaldum replaced the injured Andy Robertson at half-time and promptly scored twice in three minutes, the first a low drive, the second a powerful front-post header. Lionel Messi's free-kick was deflected wide shortly afterwards and Origi completed the turnaround, steering in at the front post from Trent Alexander-Arnold's quickly-taken corner.

Reaction

Klopp reaction to amazing Liverpool turnaround
Klopp reaction to amazing Liverpool turnaround

Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool manager: "The whole performance, the whole game was actually too much. It was overwhelming. I said to the boys before the game that it was impossible, but because it was them, they had a chance."

Divock Origi, Liverpool forward: "It was more about the team. We did so well. We knew it would be a special night. We wanted to fight for the injured guys. We fought so hard."

Georginio Wijnaldum, Liverpool midfielder: "After the game in Spain, we were confident we could score four and win 4-0. People outside doubted us and thought we couldn't do it. But once again we showed everything is possible in football."

Andy Robertson, Liverpool defender: "Who's going to the final? We are. That's all that matters."

Elsewhere that night

Tottenham confirmed their place in the final with a dramatic success against Ajax the following night. The only other UEFA games on the night of 7 May were UEFA European Under-17 Championship finals group matches in the Republic of Ireland: Iceland 1-2 Hungary, Portugal 2-1 Russia, Spain 1-0 Germany, Italy 2-1 Austria.

Aftermath

See how Liverpool celebrated their Madrid glory
See how Liverpool celebrated their Madrid glory

Salah and Firmino were fit again by the time of Liverpool's final meeting with Tottenham Hotspur; the Egyptian put the Reds ahead from the penalty spot in Madrid, but Origi added another chapter to his personal legend at Anfield when he came off the bench to make it 2-0. Liverpool duly celebrated their sixth European Cup success.

UEFA Champions League disappointment took some of the gloss of Barcelona's season, though calls for Ernesto Valverde's dismissal went unheeded. The Blaugrana had already retained the Spanish title before the Liverpool game, and ended up finishing 11 points clear of runners-up Real Madrid before losing to Valencia in the Copa del Rey final.