Think about the greatest atmospheres and greatest occasions you have ever seen or experienced at Anfield since the day Bill Shankly walked into the famous old ground 60 years ago and vowed to turn it into a bastion of invincibility.
Now, put them to one side, move them each down a rung, and put this unbelievable, lung-busting, raucous, incredible, magical, legendary night at the top of the list. Better than the first ever European trophy in 1973, when a Kevin Keegan-inspired Liverpool beat Borussia Moenchengladbach. Better than Olympiakos 2004 when Stevie Gerrard scored that remarkable goal in a Champions League-winning season.
Better than Inter Milan in 1965 when Shankly ordered the FA Cup be paraded around the ground to whip up the crowd It tops St Etienne in 1977 when super-sub David Fairclough hit a winner. It sits ahead of the Anfield stands shaking — along with Chelsea’s legs — when they faced Jose Mourinho’s side in the Luis Garcia ‘ghost goal’ semifinal of 2005.
It eclipses the celebrations when Liverpool won on penalties against the same team, and the same manager, at the same stage, in 2007. Last night was the greatest that Anfield has ever seen.
Quite simply, Liverpool couldn’t have done any more, on the pitch or off it, to make it any more special. From 3-0 down to 4-3 up against Lionel Messi and Co.
The stuff that dreams are made of, the story that will make Divock Origi, who scored the first and final goal despite playing only a bit part until the last fortnight, a full-on Liverpool legend.
Manager Jurgen Klopp called for a football party before the game and his players delivered that; but so did the supporters, filling the air with noise, energy, and an intensity that not even Merseyside has seen before.
It’s an atmosphere Klopp has helped to build, of course, and his inspirational programme notes played a part too at a club which has grown in stature, togetherness, and belief in a remarkable season which could still end in Premier League glory, too.
Looking ahead to the challenge of hauling back a 3-0 first-leg defeat, he said: “Here is one thing everyone inside Anfield knows, including our opponents. This Liverpool never stops. This Liverpool never quits. We won’t do ‘if only’.”
The breathless, relentless action which followed left fans in no doubt their Liverpool were up for the battle Origi’s early goal helped, of course, but the action was so fast and the pressing so intense that there was barely a single moment to take a breath, except when captain fantastic Jordan Henderson briefly halted play with an injury that, thankfully, he recovered from.
Liverpool were without Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Naby Keita, but they looked no worse for it.
“Even with Mo and Bobby it would have been a massive challenge, that is how it is in football,” said Klopp.
So, I am happy for the boys that get the opportunity tonight and they all have to deliver. It is a big one and we will try really hard.
That’s an understatement because Liverpool did far more than try hard: they gave it absolutely everything, with Sadio Mane in particular a whirlwind of energy and skill.
The problem for the Reds, however, was that Barcelona showed no sign of compromising their own attacking principles and always looked dangerous on the break, forcing Alisson into three excellent saves in the first half and another two after the break. Let’s put the task Liverpoolfaced in this tie into perspective.
Not only were they playing probably the greatest team in Europe but they were also looking to become only the third team in the history of the European Cup or Champions League to recover from three goals down to reach the final (Panathinaikos in 1970-71 and Barca themselves in 1985-86).
So, when sub Gini Wijnaldum swept in a second after 54 minutes and then made it 3-0 a minute later with a wonderful header, there was barely an ounce of oxygen left in the Anfield air as the history books opened up ready for Liverpool to make an entry.
Ultimately it was Origi who took the pen in his own hands and wrote the words in beautifully crafted script, converting a 79th-minute corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold to win the tie and put Liverpool into the Champions League final.
But every single person inside Anfield, every fan in every seat, deserves to sign their own name alongside that of their hero. They created an atmosphere that we will never, ever forget. The greatest comeback, the greatest escape, the greatest night of all