After a 4-2 loss in the second leg at the Stadio Olimpico and a 7-6 win on aggregate against AS Roma in the Champions League semi final, Liverpool are through to the Champions League final of 2018, where they’ll face Real Madrid, the defending champion of the last two years.
Just like in the first leg, Liverpool conceded two late goals – One in the 86th minute, a long range shot by Radja Nainggolan, and the other a penalty kick in the 94th minute, also converted by Nainggolan. However, Roma players and the fans already knew that the match was so deep into extra time, they won’t get the chance to try and score a 5th goal which would have forced extra time.
The match began with Roma needing 3 goals to win on away goals, but after early minutes of pressure from the home side, as expected Liverpool countered and well. Nainggolan made a foolish mistake, which allowed Liverpool one of their famous counter attacked, ending with a Roberto Firmino assist to Sadio Mane and the opening goal.
It didn’t take long for Roma to get their hope back – A clearance attempt in the 15th minute from the Liverpool box bounced off the head of James Milner. Again, 1-1, which meant once again, the Giallorossi need 3 goals.
But once more, Liverpool took advantage of a Roma mistake, this time poor positioning and clearing after a cross to the box, which left Georginio Wijnaldum wide open from close range to head the ball into Alisson’s net. With that 2-1 lead, Liverpool knew Roma needed to score 3 goals to reach extra time; 4 to qualify to the final.
And Roma didn’t. While Liverpool slowly faded away, as some would expect, Roma never scored enough, nor did they create the urgency to topple Liverpool early enough, although some would say a handball and red card were deserved along the way, which would have obviously completely changed the match. Edin Dzeko scored in the 52nd minute to equalize, but Roma took the lead for the first time way too late.
This leaves us with one match to the end of the 2017-2018 Champions League season: Real Madrid, champions of the competition 3 times in the last 4 years and 12 times overall, against Liverpool, who last made the final in 2007 and last won the competition (their 5th win) in 2005. They’ll meet in Kiev on May 26. It’ll be a rematch of the 1981 European Cup final, which Liverpool won 1-0 thanks to a late goal by Alan Kennedy.