Underdogs to Finalists: Liverpool's journey to the UCL finals
In the 2005 Champions League final staged at Istanbul, Liverpool miraculously beat AC Milan on penalties after trailing by 3 goals for a whole 54 minutes. In 2007 however at Athens, AC Milan had their revenge and beat Liverpool convincingly when the two coincidentally met again in a Champions League final. On Saturday 26th of May 2018, Liverpool will be back on the Champions League final stage but this time, against champions Real Madrid.
The Kops have been underdogs throughout the tournament and we have taken a look at their journey from the group stages to the final.
Group stages: Tough start
Liverpool’s campaign started with a whimper. The Reds surrendered a lead late on at Anfield in their group opener that allowed Sevilla to walk away with a point, before a poor performance in Russia saw the Reds sitting on just two points from their opening pair of games.
The Reds next four group games would see them score 20 goals and take 10 points from a possible 12, sealing the all important top spot in their group.
First up was a trip to Maribor in which the Reds’ potent attack exploded into life. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were both at the double, while Philippe Coutinho (remember him), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold all got themselves on the score sheet in a 7-0 demolition of the Slovenian side.
MATCH FACTS: Liverpool vs NK Maribor pic.twitter.com/dVnrAyGQmi— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) November 1, 2017
Sevilla however, still managed to give Klopp’s men their biggest hiccup in the competition thus far.
Despite leading 3-0 at half-time thanks to some stellar set-piece work and one blistering counter-attack that of course, ended in one of those cheeky Roberto Firmino ‘no look’ finishes, nothing is ever that simple for this Reds squad. Alberto Moreno conspired to have a meltdown in the second half while the rest of Liverpool’s defence and midfield forgot how to play football.The game ended at 3-3.
This result left Liverpool in need of three points to ensure top spot in the group .The answer? A second 7-0 group stage victory.
Mané Magic: Liverpool FC 5 – 0 FC Porto
Porto aren’t Real Madrid. They’re no Barcelona and they’re certainly no Manchester City. However, they are still a very good side and Liverpool beat them 5-0, ending the tie before the second leg. It was in this game that Mané scored his first hat-trick for the club.
Liverpool used up all their goals in the 1st leg vs Porto, and that was more than enough.— FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) March 7, 2018
Watch 90' in 90"👇 pic.twitter.com/oZlgBSD5Lz
The second leg was a less entertaining affair, finishing 0-0 after both sides opted to rest players for upcoming league matches but that was all it needed to be.
A Battle of Wit and Tactics: Liverpool FC 5 – 1 Manchester City
This was perhaps among the most confusing tie of the tournament. Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola was rightfully wary of Liverpool. Surprisingly, the eventual Premier League champions had it so tough that they were 3-0 down within 30 minutes of the first-leg.
In the second leg, Gabriel Jesus put Liverpool hearts in mouths in the opening minutes when he capitalised on a rare mistake from Virgil van Dijk but the Reds shored up their defences and kept the home side at bay until half-time. In the second half of the game, Liverpool were re-energised, revitalised and looked to have a renewed sense of purpose and belief about their football. Mohamed Salah scored the all important away-goal. Roberto Firmino put some gloss on the scoreline but the result was already sealed.
Liverpool were through to the semi-finals.
Manchester City vs. Liverpool tonight:— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 10, 2018
15 chances created 🎯
1 goal ⚽
Liverpool vs. Manchester City tonight:
2 chances created 🎯
2 goals ⚽
Definition of clinical. pic.twitter.com/k5nyiSB0cM
Semi-finals: Liverpool FC 7 – 6 AS Roma
Liverpool were 5-0 up with 15 minutes remaining at Anfield in the first leg of their semi-final tie against Roma. It was in the second leg that the tables changed.
Dzeko pulled one back for the visitors with ten remaining before a penalty gave Roma a second away goal. Despite the combination of this statistic and going into halftime 2-1 to the good thanks to a first ever away goal for the club from Gini Wijnaldum and a counter-attack finished in fine fashion by Sadio Mané, Liverpool decided to just gift Roma at least a glimmer of hope.
Radja Nainggolan sent an absolute thunderbolt in off Loris Karius’ post. The final kick of the game made it 7-6 to the Reds on aggregate as Nainggolan grabbed his second with another penalty given but it was too late for Roma’s comeback.
The first leg had sealed it for Liverpool sending them back to the stage that gave them so much glory in 2005.