Liverpool have shocked the world. Heading back to Anfield after losing a dispiriting 3-0 first leg in Barcelona, Liverpool needed something resembling a miracle to reach their second straight Champions League final. And they found one, somehow, winning 4-0 at home and booting Barcelona out of the competition in the same completely humiliating fashion that Roma did last year.
Everything leading up to the game seemed to be tilting in Barcelona’s favor, even if they were not the better team in the first leg. Liverpool were forced to play their best lineup over the weekend to beat Newcastle and stay within striking distance of Manchester City in the Premier League, losing Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the process. Meanwhile Barcelona, who’ve already locked up the domestic title, got to rest everyone and play a lineup of relative scrubs. A single away goal would have forced Liverpool to score five, and Lionel Messi had yet again proved his ability to conjure goals from nothing.
Instead, Liverpool took over. Divock Origi, starting in place of the injured Firmino, scored in the seventh minute, and Liverpool controlled the game from the jump as Barcelona mostly seemed content to defend. Halftime sub Georginio Wijnaldum proved to be just the boost Liverpool needed, as he scored back-to-back goals in the 54th and 56th minutes to tie up the aggregate scoreline.
With over half an hour left, Liverpool still needed to prevent an away goal from forcing them to score five on the night to advance. The eventual winner came 20 minutes after Wijnaldum tied it. Trent Alexander-Arnold manufactured a corner, then caught Barcelona sleeping with an extremely cheeky delivery. The Barca defense was paying attention to Xherdan Shaqiri as he trotted to the flag, but Alexander-Arnold rushed back to the ball and slipped it to a waiting Origi. The Belgian smashed it in to close the door on Barcelona’s hopes.
Barca have now been on the positive end of greatest two-legged playoff comeback in soccer history as well as the losing end of two of the worst such comebacks. Meanwhile, Liverpool will await the winner of Ajax-Tottenham in the final in Madrid, with a chance to redeem last year’s heartbreak in the city of the team that beat them.