Liverpool stuns Barcelona 4-0 to reach Champions League final

Liverpool delivered the greatest in a long line of famous comebacks to reach the Champions League final Tuesday, beating Lionel Messi’s Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield to overturn a three-goal deficit from the first leg.

Divock Origi scored twice, either side of goals by halftime substitute Georginio Wijnaldum early in the second half, to send Liverpool into its second straight final and set up a meeting with either Ajax or Tottenham on June 1.

It was only the third time in the history of the European Cup that a team came from three goals down after the first leg of a semifinal and progressed to the final, after Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barcelona in 1985-86. No team had done it in the Champions League era.

“The people from outside, they doubted us and thought we couldn’t do it,” Wijnaldum said. “But once again, we showed that everything is possible.”

The comeback was all the more unlikely given that Liverpool was without two of its first-choice forwards, Mohamed Salah (concussion) and Roberto Firmino.

Instead, it was Origi — the scorer of the fourth goal in the 79th minute — who made the seemingly impossible, possible. And it needed some remarkable ingenuity from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who pretended to walk away from taking a corner before quickly spinning round and sending in a low cross as Barcelona’s players dawdled. Origi swept in the finish.

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp said he didn’t even see what happened at the corner.

“We had to be serious, but we needed to be cheeky as well,” Klopp said. “Barcelona (defends) predictable things well but you need to be unpredictable at moments. I saw the ball flying in the net. I didn’t see the corner. (Substitute) Ben Woodburn looked at me and said, ‘What happened?’”

Given the opposition, a team featuring arguably the greatest-ever player in Messi, this likely will rank as Liverpool’s top European performance, rivaling the comeback from three goals down against AC Milan in the 2005 Champions League final.

There was also the 3-1 win over Saint-Etienne in the 1977 European Cup and the 4-3 win from 2-0 down against Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 Europa League quarterfinals.

For Barcelona, it was the second year in a row that it let a three-goal lead slip, having beaten Roma 4-1 at home in the quarterfinals before losing the return leg 3-0 to go out.

MLS: Cincinnati fired head coach Alan Koch after the expansion team’s 11th first-tier match — a 1-0 loss to the Quakes at Avaya Stadium on Saturday. Koch went 2-7-2 as the team scored a league-low eight goals. Assistant Yoann Damet will be interim head coach. … Atlanta acquired midfielder Justin Meram from Columbus for $100,000 in general-allocation money and the team’s second-round pick in the 2020 draft.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Liverpool-stuns-Barcelona-4-0-to-reach-Champions-13827331.php.

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