A heart stopping semi-final: Resurgence with very narrow margins

Rome –

While I was watching the match, I was saying to myself what is this Liverpool team up to. And AS Roma, they are indeed a surprise turn in this year’s UCL. As I mentioned in my earlier article that they are the team of upsets, indeed they have done that with the mighty Spanish giants Barcelona in the quarters and they almost did the same with Liverpool in the semis. Stadio Olympico looks to be more like a colosseum seems to be more of a haunting ground now for any team that visits there to play against the home side.

Barcelona got a taste of it during the quarterfinals when almost the entire world thought that Barca have progressed into the semis after a dominating performance at Camp Nou against Roma. But destiny held a different tale for the Spanish super giants.

Liverpool were so close to make the same thing repeat in the semis finals. And talking about Liverpool they are having a very good season in Premier League this year, a wonderful performance in UEFA Champions League as well. But while I was watching the match I was unable to identify the Liverpool which decimated the same Roma team in the reverse fixture at Anfield, destroyed through Pep’s wonder team of Manchester City, are now being man handled over here in the Olympico.

With the lights of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mo Sallah who returned to his former home ground were not that impactful, especially Sallah who’s going through the most splendid year of his career. It was just that this 4-2 defeat to a highly flawed Roma – to make it 7-6 on aggregate, reflected as many of Liverpool’s own flaws alongside their strengths.

One of the flaws which I think is because of the comfort that they had during the first leg lead, and the distinctiveness of the situation, not to mention the natural nerve instinct that comes into play when you’re so close to something this special. The Liverpool’s players were so determined to make it was summed up at the final whistle which was blown straight after Radja Nainggolan had scored the penalty to bring his side within one goal difference of injury time.

Roma did go for the final showdown in the last 15 minutes of the game, but the truth was the foundations had already been laid for the path to Kyiv during the first leg.

Sadio Mane’s early finish was wiped out by a hugely unfortunate James Milner own goal but Georginio Wijnaldum soon nodded in from close range to leave the Serie A side four behind overall at half-time. Edin Dzeko punctuated a concerted spell of pressure from the hosts after the interval but the Reds dug in and Radja Nainggolan’s late double had no effect on the tie’s outcome. Jürgen Klopp’s team march on to a first appearance at the summit of European club football since 2007 and Real await them in Kiev later this month. “We shall not be moved,” sang the travelling Reds. Their incredible Champions League journey continues to Kiev and a battle for the trophy against Real.

The key highlights of the match

· Mane extended the lead to four in ninth minute

· Milner own goal gave Roma equaliser shortly after

· Wijnaldum header secured crucial second away goal

· Dzeko levelled again on the night and Nainggolan double won the match

· But it is the Reds who will face reigning champions Real in Kiev on May 26.


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