Liverpool reach semi-final as they send Man City Champions League dream up in smoke

Liverpool players celebrated with fans at the end of the game. Net.

By the time it was all over it was hard not to reflect on the line from that old Anfield song about enduring a storm and emerging on the other side triumphant and stronger for the experience, although Jurgen Klopp could never have imagined this would go as well as it did.

The storm did come for Liverpool in the first half, when Pep Guardiola’s team seemed to occupy every critical part of the pitch in every moment and were ahead within two minutes in a torrent of pressure that made the head spin.

Yet, by the end, it was not just that City had failed to score the three goals required to level the tie, they had not even won the match, and it is Klopp’s side who go through to the Champions League semi-finals with an emphatic 5-1 ­aggregate win.

Guardiola was sent off at half-time and obliged to watch from the stands, as his team derailed after a goal from the sublime Mohamed Salah in the 56th minute that changed the mood as completely as Paul Pogba’s first had done here three days earlier. When the Egyptian came off with a few minutes left to play – the Etihad emptying, the away fans raucous – Klopp hugged his goalscorer for so long that you wondered if they might watch the last few minutes together arm-in-arm.

Somehow Liverpool had survived the first-half onslaught that followed Gabriel Jesus’s goal, and they were lucky a second for Leroy Sane’s was wrongly ruled offside, perhaps confirming all Guardiola’s misgiving about the Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz. Lahoz had no hesitation in sending off the City manager, although you wonder why Guardiola gave him the opportunity.

There were heroic performances from Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk in defence, in contrast to a Nicolas Otamendi horror show in the second half, who gifted Roberto Firmino the second goal. City have now lost three in a row and will go to Wembley to face Tottenham on Saturday with the possibility that it could be four. A team briefly considered invincible has been beaten three times now by Klopp.

 

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