Liverpool one step from paradise

Roma 4 Liverpool 2 (Liverpool win 7-6 on aggregate): Liverpool’s Champions League dream is now one step away from becoming a reality.

Only Real Madrid stand in the way of their sixth European Cup after they booked a place in the final last night.

However, they did so in one of the least convincing ways possible, as they lost 4-2 to Roma.

In the end, their attacking talents got them out of a jail, as goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum inside 25 minutes, and either side of James Milner’s own-goal, put them ahead.

However, second-half goals from Edin Dzeko and a late brace from Radja Nainggolan made it a nervy night for manager Jurgen Klopp.

In the end, thanks to their commanding 5-2 lead from the first leg, Roma’s goals proved to not be decisive, but they kept things interesting.

They were no worries for Liverpool during the first leg over a week ago and, as such, Klopp made just one change from the team that started that match, with Wijnaldum replacing the injured Alex- Oxlade Chamberlain.

After being picked apart at Anfield, Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco reverted to a back four in defence after the troubles his back three had against Liverpool’s attacking trident of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane last week.

The hope for Roma was a back four would prove more successful at stopping that lethal trio, who have now amassed a staggering 29 goals between them in the Champions League this season.

However, within 10 minutes the boisterous Stadio Olimpico was silenced, as Liverpool took the lead. The breakthrough came thanks largely down to Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan, who inadvertently passed the ball straight to Firmino on the halfway line.

From there, the Brazilian broke forward to feed Mane, who coolly slotted the ball past goalkeeper Alisson.

It was a goal that knocked the stuffing out of Roma, but they were gifted a way back into the match just six minutes later in bizarre fashion. Unlike one of Liverpool’s slick counters, this was a goal born out of a simple ball punted into the box that Stephan El Shaarawy managed to head back into play.

Even then it looked like there was little danger, but Virgil van Dijk’s hoicked clearance rebounded off Milner and into the back of the net. Suddenly, those from the Eternal City believed again.

However, just like they had before, Liverpool drained the atmosphere out of the Stadio Olimpico again by scoring.

This time it came via yet more defending that was not really befitting of a Champions League semi-final, as Dzeko’s headed clearance from a corner merely put it on a plate for Wijnaldum to nod the ball.

Roma had gone from not conceding a goal at home during the whole of their Champions League campaign this season, to leaking two in 25 minutes.

Knowing that their task was now verging on the impossible, they desperately tried to get men forward and El Shaarawy was proving their best outlet.

The winger was causing plenty of problems down the left and his deflected effort struck the post 10 minutes before the interval.

Six minutes after half-time Roma did get a lifeline, though, as Dzeko made amends for his early error by firing the ball home after Loruis Karuis could only parry El Shaarawy’s shot straight to him.

Roma were now well and truly going for broke and Cengiz Under was thrown on as they essentially opted for four players upfront.

The substitute almost had an instant impact, too, but his deft touch on Daniele De Rossi’s lofted through ball couldn’t beat Karuis.

Liverpool were rocking and Roma were denied a strong shout for a penalty, as Patrik Schick’s shot struck Trent Alexander-Arnold’s arms.

The Reds just need to see out the final 25 minutes without conceding and they would book themselves a place in the final in Kiev on May 26.

They managed to do just that, but by no means in a calm fashion, as Nainggolan scored twice in the final four minutes.

Firstly, the midfielder fired home a long-range strike from outside the box.

Then substitute Ragnar Klavan gave away a soft penalty and the Belgian stepped up to a bag his second, but it was not enough.

Subs for Roma:

Under for Lorenzo Pellegrini 53, Gonalons for De Rossi 69, Antonucci for El Shaarawy 75.

Subs for Liverpool:

Klavan for Mane 83, Solanke for Firmino 87, Clyne for ,Alexander-Arnold 90.

Referee:

Damir Skomina (Slovenia).


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