Liverpool has qualified for the semi-finals of the Europa League after staging an incredible comeback against the German giants Borussia Dortmund. It was unarguably the most exciting match of the season, and it will be remembered alongside the most dramatic knock-out games in the history of the beautiful game.
The first leg of this quarter-final tie at Signal Iduna Park ended 1 – 1. The Reds had an away goal advantage going into the second leg at Anfield. However, they found themselves trailing 2 – 0 after the first eight minutes at home. Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang netted a goal in the opening ten minutes, thereby making the task very difficult for the hosts.
The score stayed 2 – 0 until the half-time break, but no one could have predicted what was in store for the second half. Divock Origi got one goal back in the 47th minute, giving hope to the home fans. But Marco Reus’ 57th-minute strike seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. To progress, Liverpool had an uphill task of scoring three more goals.
Coutinho scored Liverpool’s second goal of the night in the 66th minute, and Sakho added the third in the 77th minute. There was a belief in the stadium as one more goal would see them through to the next round. In the stoppage time, Dejan Lovren stepped up and scored the header past Weidenfeller. The already loud Anfield erupted as the Merseyside giants staged one of the greatest comebacks in the history of football. Their triumph over Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund is being compared to their famous victory over AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final in Istanbul.
It was the Liverpool players who did everything on the pitch, but Jurgen Klopp deserves a lot of credit for motivating his men to register an outstanding victory over his former club.
“Tonight, it was brilliant, outstanding, wonderful, emotional, everything!” said Klopp in his post-match press conference. “I will not forget it. It’s special.
“We need experiences like this. We now have a milestone, that’s good, really good.”
“To be honest, I thought from the first minute we were in the game,” Klopp said. “Then after nine minutes we were 2-0 down.
“Very often, that means the game is over. But not here, not with this Liverpool team. That’s great to be part of.
“At half time, the atmosphere was good. I was satisfied with the game. Not with the goals, but with the game in general.
In his half-time speech, Klopp reminded his young side of the 2005 Champions League final and took it as a blueprint to explain that it is possible to achieve the impossible.
“I told the lads this; a few older Liverpool players who now work as television experts played in a game where they were 3-0 down at half-time in a Champions League final. So even when it is not really likely, it is possible. And we should try to go for it.
“When we scored for 2-1, you could feel something in the stadium. Everybody felt it. But then Dortmund produced a brilliant moment for 3-1.
“In football, as in life, that is the moment where you have to show character. That’s what the lads did. It was pretty cool to watch.
“To come back in a game against this high-quality opponent like this, sure you need a bit of luck but everybody who saw the game has to say it was deserved.
“At the end, I wasn’t even sure the ball from Dejan was in for a long time! But it was, and…well…good!”