Liverpool beating Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-final was astonishing, bewildering and bloody brilliant. It was supreme dynamism, it was Arya Stark killing the Night King, it was ET going home; it was everything for fans of this great old club.
It was a victory in the mirror image of their manager – the unflinchingly Jurgen Klopp who never gives up, who is more positive than a room full of batteries and lights up life with smiles and bear hugs.
The moment the theme tune was drowned out by a crowd who were a living, breathing mass of up-for-it maniacs this was game on.
From a 0-3 starting position against a side that contained the greatest player of all time, the Reds had to come out the blocks quicker than a juiced-up Ben Johnson used to back in his heyday. It worked as super-strong Sir Divock of Origi – in for the concussed Mo Salah – gave the Kop what they craved namely an early goal.
In goal Alisson was so brave he looked double-backboned – making five saves including an exceptional block to deny Jordi Alba one-on-one.
Trent Alexander-Arnold produced a moment of breath-taking intelligence and vision to fake – then take – the corner from which Origi brilliantly slammed in No 4. Anfield was rocking on another volcanic night under the lights.
Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk kept Lionel Messi quiet – enough said – while Andy Roberston roughed up the Argentine then got a kicking off the ball himself by arch villain Luis Suarez.
The former Red had promised not to celebrate at Anfield like he did in the Nou Camp and he was true to his word as his team had absolutely nothing to shout about. I heard Suarez went home, looked up his family tree and found out he was the sap
Liverpool fans can even thank him for it was his snide kick that meant Robbo could not continue and the unplayable Gini Wijnaldum came on at the break and scored two quick-fire goals to level the tie.
It’s all going like Klopp-work for Liverpool in Europe with the German NEVER having lost a two-leg knock-out tie.
What made this wondrous achievement even more remarkable was that it came just 24 hours after the crushing disappointment of seeing Vincent Kompany score the goal of his life against Leicester to keep the domestic title race in Manchester City’s hands.
In the league with just one game to go, Liverpool have conceded just 22 goals and kept 20 clean sheets in 37 matches. Whatever happens on Sunday – those rampant Reds have Madrid to look forward to on June 1.
Tottenham should also be proud of their efforts in Europe this season – unlike a certain T May.
At 3-0 down (agg) in Amsterdam at half-time it needed something special and they got it. Lucas Moura became just the fifth different player to score a hat-trick in a Champions League semi-final, after Alessandro Del Piero, Ivica Olic, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.
His last goal came in the fifth minute of injury time and left gutted Ajax players flat out on the floor as they crashed out on the away goal rule.
Tottenham had looked odds on to go out at the group stage after losing two and drawing their first three games but a superb 1-1 draw at Barcelona saw them save their skins.
Despite an injury list that would make Guy’s Hospital wince Mauricio Pochettino’s men battled their way past Borussia Dortmund and memorably Manchester City and now this exciting Dutch side.
THERE will be no Champions League football at Old Trafford next season – and Manchester United only have themselves to blame.
Drawing 1-1 at a frankly terrible Huddersfield side shows exactly how far the Red Devils have fallen. They were devoid of ideas, rhythm, skill and creativity.
United have failed to win both Prem visits to Huddersfield (D1 L1) — the only side to go to the John Smith’s more than once in the PL without winning.
Everywhere you looked there were failings. Ashley Young still at right-back and still captain; Phil Jones still allowed to defend; Paul Pogba still doing his trademark pretend run-walk; Luke Shaw still eating pies and Alexis Sanchez still stealing a living.
David De Gea has failed to emulate the kind of form that saw him claim the most clean sheets last season (18) and has fallen well short by his standards, making just seven from his 37 Premier League matches this term.
There are eight other goalkeepers who have registered more clean sheets than the Spaniard this season, including relegated Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge (8). In contrast Liverpool stopper Alisson has 20.
As a team United haven’t kept a clean sheet in 14 games – their worst run since 1970!
In the last eight league games Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s side have been playing like a relegation-level team – picking up just eight of the 24 points on offer. For a squad that has in the region of £650 million splurged on them it is totally unacceptable, shambolic and clueless.
Too many players put in a rotten performance against the already-relegated Terriers who had lost 14 games and scored just nine goals on home turf before the weekend.
Sanchez was given his first start since March 2 as fellow strikers Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial were both missing through injury and it took just 54 minutes for him to once again join them on the treatment bench.
It must have hurt Jose Mourinho to see how his players reacted at first to his axe – winning game after game – but he must be feeling pretty smug now.
We all laughed in August 2018 and again in January when he said finishing second with this squad was one of his biggest achievements – we’re not laughing now. The Portuguese was spot on – it was miraculous.
Now fans need Solksjaer to pull off a similar miracle in the summer – his nostalgia-fuelled references to the 1990s have already worn very thin and his words need to be backed up by action in the transfer market.
It sounds daft to anyone over the age of 30 but for how much longer can United be considered a huge club? Since Sir Alex Ferguson left they have finished seventh, fourth, fifth, sixth, second and now fifth or sixth. Once it gets to 10 years since a title it becomes a hard slide to reverse – just ask Liverpool.
AND finally they’ve only Gunn and blown it and gifted Chelsea a place in Europe’s elite competition next season – and more than likely arch-rivals Tottenham.
Arsenal’s tame 1-1 draw with Brighton saw the Blues secure their spot with a second-half show of defiance and pride in beating Watford 3-0.
Tottenham imploded at Bournemouth with Son Heung-min and Juan Foyth both deservedly sent off either side of half-time. That it took until injury-time for Bournemouth to finally break through was scant consolation.
But luckily for Spurs, Manchester United and Arsenal both contrived to draw very winnable matches so barring a nightmare of Freddy Krueger type proportions there will be Champions League football at WHL2 next season.