Sports

Barcelona Cakewalks Into Champions League … Wait, What? Liverpool Won?!?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 07:  Divock Origi of Liverpool (27) celebrates as he scores his team's fourth goal with team mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final second leg match between Liverpool and Barcelona at Anfield on May 07, 2019 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Divock Origi celebrates his second goal against Barcelona in Liverpool on May 7.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool completed one of the greatest comebacks in soccer history on Tuesday, beating Barcelona 4–0 at Anfield to win its Champions League semifinal 4–3 on aggregate. The home side put in a performance of vigor and purpose, battering their hapless opponents for the duration. Barcelona, meanwhile, played like dog poop.

After winning the first leg 3–0 in Spain, all Barcelona had to do to secure a spot in the final was not concede four goals. That plan was put on wobbly ground when Liverpool’s Divock Origi tapped in a rebound in the seventh minute. Origi doesn’t normally start for Liverpool, but the team’s two star strikers—Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino—were both ruled out with injuries.

The score was 1–0 at halftime, and Barcelona’s approach to the second half appeared to be a rehash of their first-half game plan (but with an added commitment to self-inflicted humiliation). Liverpool substitute Georginio Wijnaldum scored after 54 minutes, and he put Liverpool up 3–0 with a leaping header two minutes after that.

The match was poised to go into extra time, but a lapse in concentration from Barcelona was met with some impudent cleverness by Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold. With the Barcelona defense collectively staring into space, the right back threaded a corner to Origi, and the striker confidently converted the crucial fourth goal.

On Monday, Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp outlined the challenge his squad were preparing to face. “Two of the world’s best strikers are not available, and we have to score four goals to go through in 90 minutes,” he said. It sounds like a Mission Impossible assignment, but Liverpool managed to complete it with 10 minutes to spare.

For Liverpool, Tuesday’s result joins 2005’s miracle Champions League Final comeback as a moment that will forever be etched into club lore. Barcelona, meanwhile, only has to look back as far as last year’s quarterfinal to find a collapse of similar infamy. Despite beating Roma 4-1 in the first leg, Barcelona lost the following match 3–0 and got knocked out due to away goals. Going by a sample size of just the last two years, the best and most storied club in the entire world has made a habit of handling elimination matches like the Toronto Raptors.

Tuesday was Liverpool’s night, though, and they await the winner of Ajax-Tottenham in the final. Free bit of advice for Liverpool’s eventual opponents: Try not to let them score four goals. It’s a lot harder than it sounds.