Liverpool pulled off an incredible fightback on another breathless European night at Anfield to reach the last-four of the Europa League.
Jurgen Klopp’s side looked finished after Dortmund raced into a two-goal lead inside nine minutes.
But they refused to give up and pulled off a remarkable comeback with Dejan Lovren’s rising to head in a 91st minute winner in front of the Kop.
It was a night that brought back the unforgettable European evenings of the past at Anfield — and the stunning victories over St Etienne and Olympiakos.
The German side twice held two-goal leads but second half goals from Divock Origi, Phillipe Coutinho and Mamadou Sakho set up the dramatic finale and Lovren was the late hero as he rose to head in a stunning header.
The tie had looked effectively over in the space of nine minutes with Thomas Tuchel’s dynamic youthful side ripping Liverpool apart in a devastating opening spell.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who opted to move to Dortmund ahead of Liverpool in 2013, rounded off a lightning quick-counter attack for a fifth-minute opener.
And Dortmund repeated the dose four minutes later when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang smashed in a second in front of a dumbstruck Kop.
Origi pulled a goal back at the start of the second half with a neat goal and Coutinho renewed hope in the 66th minute after Marco Reus had added a third for the visitors.
Sakho then headed in a third with 13 minutes later and Liverpool laid siege on the Dortmund goal before Lovren’s late header to send Liverpool through to the last-four.
Jurgen Klopp had welcomed his former side to his new home in England and then watched them tear into his hopes of winning a first trophy with Liverpool in the opening nine minutes.
Liverpool looked to have made their task virtually impossible after failing to cope with the opening burst from a Dortmund side who looked fresh and vibrant after Tuchel had several key men in their derby against Schalke 04 at the weekend.
It was a completely different performance to the side that had laboured at the Westfalenstadion seven days earlier. Tuchel had admitted before last night’s game that Klopp’s homecoming at affected his players more.
It was another emotional night that started with an incredible show of unity with both sets of fans joining in a deafening version of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ — just as they had done a week earlier in Germany.
And it had it even more significance coming a day before the 27th anniversary of the Hillsbrough tragedy — with the away fans holding up a mosaic of the number 96 in memory of the Liverpool fans who died during the minute’s silence that followed.
But the ‘freundschaft’ was temporarily put on hold for 90 minutes with a place in the semi-finals at stake and a golden opportunity to secure a spot in next season’s Champions League.
Within five minutes the Germans were ahead after Coutinho carelessly gave the ball away in midfield. Former United midfielder Shinji Kagawa sprinted clear and with Liverpool struggling to keep up. The ball was worked to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang whose close-range volley was kept out by Simon Mignolet only for Mkhitaryan to tap in the rebound.
Just four minutes later it got even worse. Liverpool again lost possession in the Dortmund half with Marco Reus bringing the ball clear before feeding Aubameyang with a clever pass and the Gabon international smashed the ball past Mignolet for his 37th goal of the season.
It stunned an Anfield that had been anticipating a golden opportunity to add to their extraordinary record of five European Cups and three Uefa Cups.
The streets around Anfield had been lined with fans as the team bus arrived at the ground and the reception even took Klopp by surprise. “I don’t know if you have been outside — it’s my first time that I have seen something like this — it’s a good start to the night,” he admitted.
It was a similar welcome the players had received arriving to the ground three years ago when Liverpool looked set to win the Premier League title. That day they froze — losing 2-0 to Chelsea — and it seemed to have an adverse effect again. Liverpool tried battle themselves back into the tie. Origi, who was again preferred to England striker Daniel Sturridge after his goal in the first leg and two against Stoke City at the weekend had a shot saved low by Roman Wiedenfeller and clipped another effort wide.
Alberto Moreno volleyed horribly off-target while Adam Lallana had an embarrassing airshot as he looked to lash the ball in from eight yards.
But they found a lifeline just two minutes into the second half when Origi raced onto Coutinho’s through-ball and tucked the ball under Wiedenfeller. It gave the Kop a new lease of life after the first half punch to the stomach but Reus raced onto Matts Hummels exquisite pass to curl the ball around Mignolet to restore their two-goal advantage.
Coutinho pulled it back to 3-2 in the 65th minute when he curled a delightful strike around Wiedenfeller from the edge of the box after a neat one-two with Origi.
And 12 minutes from time, Mamadou Sakho headed Liverpool level from a corner.
Liverpool laid siege on the visitors and found the breakthrough in the 91st minute when Daniel Sturridge tossed the ball into the net and Lovren rose at the back post.
Reus almost stole it back with a 94th minute free-kick that drifted inches wide but the Reds weren’t to be denied.
Mignolet, Clyne, Lovren, Sakho, Moreno, Lallana (Allen 62), Milner, Can (Lucas 80), Coutinho, Firmino (Sturridge 63), Origi.
Ward, Skrtel, Smith, Ojo.
Weidenfeller, Piszczek, Papastathopoulos, Hummels, Schmelzer, Mkhitaryan, Castro (Gundogan 83), Weigl, Reus (Ramos 83), Kagawa (Ginter 77), Aubameyang.
Burki, Bender, Sahin, Pulisic. Booked: Hummels, Piszczek, Schmelzer.
Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
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