Liverpool have reached their first Champions League final since 2007 after Strikes from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum confirmed the Reds’ place in the final despite the 4-2 defeat.
Liverpool will play Real Madrid in Kiev on May 26, because they got it right. They knew what they were best at, they knew what they had to do. They didn’t come to Rome in two minds about whether to dig in a steadfastly to defend a three-goal lead. Attack is the best form of defence, with this team.
Sadio Mane’s early goal to break the deadlock against Roma saw the Liverpool star write his name into the Champions League record books, alongside his two striking partners in crime.
Mane needed less than 10 minutes to open the scoring in the Stadio Olimpico, as Liverpool’s bid to defend the 5-2 lead picked up in the first leg got off to a perfect start.
After Radja Nainggolan’s horrendous pass was picked up, the striker was fed in by Roberto Firmino and finished in emphatic fashion past Alisson.
The trio of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Firmino have now hit no less than 29 goals in this year’s Champions League.
In both legs, Roma have only dominated at the point when Liverpool sought to close the game down. When both teams were at it, Liverpool were superior. Roma knew the size of their task but could not muster one of those periods that have set Liverpool apart in Europe this season – an attacking frenzy that as good as puts a tie to bed.
That is what happened at Anfield when Liverpool raced to a 5-0 lead and, for all their pressure, Roma could not replicate it here. They won the game, but too late to change the outcome of the tie. Radja Nainggolan scored the goal that put Roma ahead – but in the 86th minute. He converted the penalty that made the final score 7-6 on aggregate, but in injury time, almost the last kick of the match.
And while it may not reflect well on Liverpool that a team needing three goals scored four against them – particularly when Real Madrid are next up – it also speaks volumes that a team that had not conceded a goal at home in this competition all season should find itself a goal down after nine minutes and 2-1 down after 26.