Ainfield soccer miracle! Liverpool come back from the brink with last-gasp goal capping miracle night as Reds rally to reach last four
Liverpool 4-3 Borussia Dortmund (5-4 agg)
‘Liverpool come back from the brink with last-gasp goal to beat Borussia Dortmund as Reds rally to reach last four’
Henrikh Mkhitaryan gave Borussia Dortmund a dream start by drilling home from close range after five minutes
Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang doubled the lead after nine minutes with a clinical finish in the penalty area
Divock Origi pulled a goal back for Liverpool three minutes into the second half with a composed strike
A stunning Marco Reus goal looked to have killed the tie before Philippe Coutinho scored another for Liverpool
Mamadou Sakho headed home from close range on 77 minutes and suddenly, Liverpool were only a goal away
Dejan Lovren had the final say, rising highest to head home at the back post in the 91st minute
MARTIN SAMUEL AT ANFIELD: A stoppage time header from Dejan Lovren hauled Liverpool into the semi-final of the Europa League as Jurgen Klopp’s side somehow fought back from a first half onslaught by Borussia Dortmund. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang scored in the first 10 minutes to leave Anfield stunned. Divock Origi pulled one back in the second half before Marco Reus pulled the tie in Dortmund’s favour again. But Philippe Coutinho, Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren somehow got Liverpool through in one of Anfield’s most phenomenal European nights.
Spirit. Passion. Will. Longing. Sometimes raw emotion is enough, after all. Borussia Dortmund had the class, but Liverpool had something more. Something indefinable. Something that cannot be taught in coaching manuals, or captured in replays or revealed by reams of statistical analysis.
Something that lifted them beyond. Something that propelled them towards the realms of the fantastic. They were beaten.
They were done. And then they were not. Somehow, they returned from the beyond. Call it the spirit of Istanbul. Call it whatever you may, for nothing quite compares. This wasn’t even about Jurgen Klopp. This was about Liverpool: a club who never know when a cause is lost, and certainly not in Europe. Dejan Lovren (right) celebrates scoring the winning goal for Liverpool in an epic encounter against Borussia DortmundLovren jumped highest to meet a delivery into the penalty area to head home in the 91st minute at the Kop end at AnfieldLovren’s goal sparked phenomenal scenes inside Anfield as Liverpool somehow found a way back against DortmundThe full-time whistle sparked jubilant scenes from the Liverpool team, with Jurgen Klopp celebrating with match-winner LovrenLiverpool shake hands with the Dortmund players after somehow finding a way to win the quarter-final against the German sideThe Liverpool players acknowledge the support from the Kop with the victory and a place in the semi-final securedMamadou Sakho (left) and Lovren, Liverpool’s final two scorers to get them over the line, celebrate victory at AnfieldSakho and Origi pose for a selfie on the pitch at Anfield after Liverpool advance into the semi-final of the Europa League
They needed three goals. Not once in the game, as in Istanbul, but twice. They needed three goals after Dortmund had taken a 2-0 lead after nine minutes, and again when the score moved to 3-1 against them on 57 minutes. They needed three goals in little more than half an hour against one of the greatest sides in Europe.
And, yet, by sheer determination, they triumphed. Quite how, who knows? Divine intervention, an unexpected frailty in that mighty yellow wall, the inspiration of Anfield in full voice, simply having nothing left to lose? A sprinkling of it all, one imagines.
Every time they edged nearer the holy grail of 4-3, the decibel level went up. Yet, surely, deep down, no one thought it possible. Not even those who witnessed a miracle in 2005. That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that could never be repeated.
Could it? Yes, it could. The bald facts are that in the first minute of injury time, scores tied at 3-3, James Milner hit a deep cross that Dejan Lovren headed in at the far post. What took Liverpool to that place, however, is harder to explain.
Dortmund are a superb side. In the opening 10 minutes they had rocked Anfield to the foundations with the audacity of their play. Yet Liverpool destroyed them. Not beautifully, not by matching Dortmund’s at times gorgeous technique. Liverpool have good players, of course, but this was about a more elusive quality — an X factor.
It is a hoary old cliche but Liverpool just wanted it more. They wanted it so much it hurt. For by the end, from the effort alone, it must have hurt.
Why? Because Liverpool didn’t beat fools or flukes or mugs. For long periods Dortmund demonstrated a level of ability that would probably win our Premier League. Their first-half display was close to a masterclass. So wearing them down was an extraordinary task. Henrikh Mkhitaryan converted from close range to give Dortmund a perfect start after only five minutes of the match at AnfieldDortmund manager Thomas Tuchel turns to celebrate in the direction of the club’s away support after taking the lead against Liverpool Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang fired ruthlessly beyond Mignolet in the ninth minute as Dortmund produced an early blitz against Liverpool Striker Aubameyang celebrated his goal, which cemented Dortmund’s advantage in the tie, with his trademark acrobatics A stunned Emre Can reflects on Liverpool falling behind so quickly as the Dortmund fans behind him celebrate wildly
MATCH FACTS FROM ANFIELD
Liverpool: Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Lallana (Allen, 62), Milner, Can (Lucas, 81), Coutinho, Firmino (Sturridge, 62), Origi.
Subs not used: Ward, Skrtel, Smith, Ojo.
Goals: Origi 48, Coutinho 66, Sakho, 77, Lovren, 91.
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Papastathopoulos, Hummels, Schmelzer, Mkhitaryan, Castro (Ramos, 82), Weigl, Reus (Gundogan, 82), Kagawa, Aubameyang.
Subs not used: Burki, Bender, Sahin, Pulisic, Ginter.
Goals: Mkhitaryan 5, Aubameyang 9, Reus 57.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir
It is hard to imagine Liverpool will play better in Klopp’s first year in charge. Indeed, it is hard to imagine any English team will hit a similar height this season. There hasn’t been a comeback like this in years: coming up to 11 of them, to be precise.
The opening nine minutes puts Liverpool’s achievement into relief. At the end of that brief spell, they were so far adrift the contest looked as good as over.
Liverpool created chances and missed them, had lots of possession and failed to capitalise on it, threatened without ever convincing they could level the scores.
Dortmund, by contrast, were hugely impressive. They played the game Klopp’s Liverpool achieve in their dreams. Fast, high-pressing, but with real, technical excellence.
If the plan of coach Thomas Tuchel was to surprise Liverpool with the ferocity of attack, it worked. Liverpool seemed stunned, this being the traditional gameplan of the underdogs.
Instead, it was Dortmund who seized the initiative. They are a true counter-attacking team and Liverpool played into their hands.
Philippe Coutinho was at fault, giving the ball away on the left flank. Dortmund came back instantly through Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He sped down the flank and found Shinji Kagawa, who played the ball to Gonzalo Castro. His chip picked out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, whose shot was well stopped by Simon Mignolet only to fly out to Mkhitaryan, who had continued his run into the box. He finished smartly. Now Liverpool had to score.
The message would have gone out, don’t concede a second. Oh my. Marco Reus hustled in midfield, won the ball, played a wonderful pass into the box and Aubameyang did the rest.
His shot left Mignolet utterly defeated. Anfield stood, stunned. There had been super-human efforts in European competition before, but Steven Gerrard is an ocean away now. At that point, Dortmund were rampant. The scoreline really could have been anything from there. Liverpool boss Klopp tries desperately to cajole his side into a reaction after Dortmund’s blistering start stunned AnfieldDivock Origi, starting in attack ahead of Daniel Sturridge, had an effort deflected away as he tired to haul Liverpool back into the tieLiverpool’s dejected players trudge off the pitch at half-time, knowing three goals are needed to advance in the Europa League
Origi (right) gave Liverpool hope with a composed finish early in the second half, threading the ball under goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller
Origi grabbed the ball out of the night and encouraged more noise from the Liverpool fans after scoring in the second half
EUOPA LEAGUE SEMI-FINALISTS
The draw will take place in Nyon at 11.30
So it is to Liverpool’s credit that they kept the hope alive. They had chances, through Divock Origi, Robert Firmino and Coutinho.
And then, almost immediately after half-time, a real glimmer of hope. Milner and Emre Can combined to put Origi away, and the man who is increasingly becoming Klopp’s first pick as striker took his chance perfectly, accelerating from a chasing pack before finishing smartly past goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. Marco Reus quietened the atmosphere by rifling brilliantly past Mignolet 11 minutes after Origi struck Liverpool’s firs
Nine minutes later, Dortmund delivered what looked to be the coup de grace. It was captain Mats Hummels who set it up with a beautifully weighted ball to Reus, helpfully played onside by Mamadou Sakho, who was slow to spot the danger again.
Mignolet came haring out but the damage was done, Reus tucking the ball away and, with it, Liverpool’s hopes. They were back to needing three. It was mission impossible.
That they refused to give up even then was as much testament to the Kop as to Klopp. With the anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy hours away, emotion was high at Anfield. The atmosphere before the game was immense, intense yet also quite beautiful. Marco Reus (right) quietened the atmosphere by rifling brilliantly past Mignolet 11 minutes after Origi struck Liverpool’s first
And Mamadou Sakho headed in after 77 minutes to leave Liverpool only a goal away from going ahead in the quarter-final tie
It was the longest rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone that many had heard, Gerry and the Pacemakers slowly fading out, to allow the stadium to take over.
By the time the Kop had finished singing, the lady from the German radio station in the seat next to me was in tears. It was truly moving, truly powerful. And that mood continued throughout. They didn’t give up for them; and they wouldn’t give up on this team either.
Anfield’s determination to believe knows no bounds on nights like this, and Klopp is a perfect leader. Together they lit flames of incredible resistance. It was Coutinho who scored the second of the night, capitalising on a clever one-two and finishing with a curling shot as sweetly targeted as Kevin De Bruyne’s winner against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.
Still, the gap was two goals. Incredibly, with 12 minutes remaining, Liverpool levelled the match. While Can went down for treatment, Hummels took the opportunity to deliver a ship-steadying team talk to his Dortmund team-mates.
He must have a touch of the David Brents, though, because from the restart Liverpool scored. Daniel Sturridge flicked on the corner at the near post, Sakho planted his header from four yards at the far post. Klopp, on the touchline, went doolally. He should have saved himself for the final wonder, 13 minutes later.
When it happened, when the Kop somehow sucked the fourth of the night in with their mighty lungs, the noise was incredible, almost dizzying. It felt surreal, like a vision, or a dream. It wasn’t a dream. They did it. They really did it.
And when everyone returns to earth they will make the pragmatic realisation they are now three games off the Champions League, too. Are you watching, Manchester? Of course they are; we all are. In wonder and, yes, disbelief.Central defender Lovren (centre) had the last say, heading in strongly at the back post to send Liverpool into the last fourThe Kop pays tribute to the 96 supporters who died at Hillsbrough on the eve of the 27th anniversary of the disasterThe Dortmund supporters were in fine voice before kick-off against Liverpool at Anfield in the second leg of the Europa League clashThe Liverpool team bus inches its way between crowds of supporters as the atmosphere intensified as kick-off approahcedFlares were lit, banners were held aloft and songs were sung by supporters as the Liverpool team arrived at Anfield for the quarter-final
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