The results against Manchester City were pivotal. Last night’s 5–2 win against Roma has the potential to be defining. It was one of those truly special European nights at Anfield. And the performance, for 80 minutes, was up there with our very best (despite Roma’s collapse).
Where to begin with the superlatives… Firmino and Salah danced like Michael Flatley in Riverdance and struck deadlier than a viper. Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold galavanted down the wings like a fully-charged Duracell Bunny. Big Virg oozed effortless class against the dangerous Edin Dzeko throughout. Milly rolled back the years like Roger Federer, comfortably winning his battle against Strootman and De Rossi. Hendo was back to his dominant best, a swashbuckling pirate whipping his crew into shape. And, lastly, an honourable mention for big Gini, who needed a performance from the bench. It was a sight to behold seeing Gini Wij burst forward like a bounding gazelle and sting the keeper’s gloves with a well struck left-footed effort.
All-in-all, the Reds were simply too hot to handle.
Yet, right at the end, Roma proved they are not dead and buried… A lapse in concentration and two quick-fire goals offer a glimpse of hope. Liverpool take control, but Roma will retreat, lick their wounds, and give it everything they have a week from now.
However, as happy as I am, beneath the celebrations one cruel moment stood out for me. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain — a player loved by players and fans alike and a player who had worked his bollocks off to cement his name in the Liverpool first XI (and possibly even England XI). Seeing him writhing in pain, forced to go off after a brilliant sliding tackle on Kolarov, was a sorry sight, especially with the World Cup just around the corner. It could also be a crucial moment for the club, who now face the end of the season run-in without senior midfielders Lallana, Can and the Ox.
Ahh how victory can be bittersweet.
A defining moment for Klopp
Klopp is rightly adored right now. But for all the adoration, he needs those memorable moments to cement himself as legendary. To date, the Europa League final loss is his most memorable.
I said to a fellow fan before the game, ‘regardless of the Man City wins, if Liverpool get knocked out here and the best season Klopp ever has with us is 4th in the league and semi finals of the Champions League, will that be good enough?’. For me (and most with me), the answer was no. That makes this step towards the final a defining one. An appearance in the final of domestic football’s biggest tournament is monumental. It is a game changer. People remember finals.
As Klopp now sits just a small toe away from potential glory, he must be delighted in the shape of the squad. Since January (and the infamous Coutinho debacle), Salah has grown from strength to strength, winning the PFA Player of the Year award and smashing records left right and centre. Firmino has also become the striker Liverpool were crying out for, mixing his tenacity with a more clinical side. And defensively, which still presents some question marks, Liverpool have improved massively, led by Big Virgil.
The Reds are perfectly placed to become the first and only side to score in Europe against Roma at the Olimpico this season. In the second leg, Roma has to attack. That plays into the Reds hands. It beckons to be another great spectacle for the neutral, but this Liverpool team looks like it is going places.
This is King Salah’s world, and we should enjoy being a part of it.
35′: Liverpool 1–0 Roma (Salah)
45′: Liverpool 2–0 Roma (Salah)
56′: Liverpool 3–0 Roma (Mane goal + Salah assist)
61′: Liverpool 4–0 Roma (Firmino goal + Salah assist)
68′: Liverpool 5–0 Roma (Firmino)
Which goal was your favourite?