Liverpool became just the fourth team in history to win a Champions League knockout tie after trailing by three goals from the first leg, with Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum each bagging a brace as they swept Barcelona aside at Anfield and prevailed 4-3 on aggregate.
For Liverpool it means a ninth European Cup/Champions League final. In the history of the competition, only Real Madrid (16), AC Milan (11) and Bayern Munich (10) have ever played in more, further cementing the Reds as a legend of Europe’s elite club competition. They are also the first English club to reach consecutive finals since Manchester United in 2008 and 2009.
Standing in for Roberto Firmino, Origi was the man who opened the scoring on the night, his first ever Champions League goal and the 50th Liverpool player to score in the competition.
The game, and tie, then swung on the double from Wijnaldum early in the second half, with as little as 122 seconds between his first and second goals that put Liverpool 3-0 up on the night, and level on aggregate at 3-3.
And when Trent Alexander-Arnold smartly caught Barcelona napping with a quickly taken corner, Origi was able to stroke home the goal that won the tie and booked Liverpool’s ticket to Madrid. For Alexander-Arnold, it was a 14th assist this season, more than any other Reds player.
Liverpool relied on big performances to get the result. Fabinho was fired up in central midfield and enjoyed better passing accuracy (89.6%) than anyone in a Barcelona shirt who started the game. Joel Matip, meanwhile, passed with 93% accuracy during the 90 minutes.
Elsewhere, Alisson made five saves in Liverpool’s goal to keep Barcelona at bay. Had any one of those efforts been scored, the tie could have finished very differently.
Liverpool ceded the majority of the possession to their opponents – 57.1% overall – but had more shots during the course of the game, with 11 – seven of which were on target. And despite being out-passed by more than 150, they won a higher percentage of their tackles, made more recoveries, enjoyed a territorial advantage (52.3% to 47.7%) and supplied more crosses.
For Barcelona, defeat represents a third elimination in their last four Champions League semi-finals. It has already been established that Liverpool are only the fourth team ever to overturn 3-0 aggregate deficit, but the Catalans have now been on the receiving end of it twice in two years after losing in similar circumstances against Roma in last season’s quarter finals.
Lionel Messi was not at his brilliant best on the night, but his direct involvement in every shot that Barcelona had on the eight – five shots, three chances created – showed just how much the Catalans rely on their talisman, despite enormous talent in every position.