That Anfield European Night – View from the Kop – Barcelona (H)
Anfield… European Nights… another chapter etched into folklore and history. One of the greatest ever nights witnessed in L4 as Barcelona arrived in town, holding a 3-goal advantage from last Wednesday’s first leg. Back then I wrote an article saying we needed another special European night at Anfield and boy did it deliver.
The tried and tested routine of the team buses following the same route into the stadium was slightly altered with Liverpool’s team bus taking the varied route that saw them pass the Arkles and Shankly Gates whilst Barcelona avoided a possibly more hostile welcome using the tried and tested route, snaking up Anfield road, past the King Harry pub and into the ground. After the red smoke bombs had faded and the barriers had been removed, it was time for the noise levels in the ground to be cranked right up.
At any point during the almost 100 minutes of football, a Barcelona goal would have changed the whole night but just like the friendly at Wembley in 2016, Liverpool would triumph 4-0. Alisson was sporting an alloy goalkeeper kit with all of his kits deemed to clash with Barcelona or the officials although why his pink kit was ruled out is one for UEFA to comment on. Sadio Mane had an early run down the left and it was his ball that found Shaqiri who almost got Liverpool up and running very early on. Jordan Henderson saw his effort saved and it fell nicely into the path of Divock Origi to give Liverpool a lead after 7 minutes. My view though from the Kop was obscured so my last view before the ball was in the net was of that save by Ter Stegen. Coutinho and Messi had efforts at the Kop end with both the former Liverpool number 10 and the Barcelona number 10 testing the hands of Alisson.
Andy Robertson could have doubled Liverpool’s advantage in his cameo as he would eventually be replaced by Wijnaldum at half-time. Liverpool had a corner which Barcelona attempted a counter attack but again Alisson was able to deny the Catalan side. Virgil Van Dijk had a chance to score early in the 2nd half as Virgil Van Dijk attempted a backheel that almost caught Ter Stegen out. Suarez then tried to get a goal for Barcelona but his shot lacked pace. As Trent Alexander-Arnold lost the ball, he showed great determination to win it back and managed to find Wijnaldum who arrived to meet the ball and turn it past past Ter Stegen who showed no rush in allowing Liverpool the ball back for the restart but just a few seconds later the volume in Anfield was creeping up the decibel register once more as Origi’s ball towards the middle was overhit and after a brief link-up with Milner, Xherdan Shaqiri delivered from the left, Gini Wijnaldum rose highest and levelled the tie on aggregate with more than 30 minutes to play.
Messi was able to test Alisson again and fire back a warning shot that the tie may not be done and to not count them out of it, however Divock Origi would soon fire Liverpool through. My focus was on where Van Dijk or Matip would position themselves for a possible goal but before that could even happen, Trent Alexander-Arnold had spotted an opportunity and he took it, playing a short corner for Divock Origi to turn it home and give Liverpool the overall lead and queue celebrations from 4 sides of Anfield.
With the Kop in full celebratory voice, former striker John Aldridge ran across the front of the Kop punching the air in jubilation with a smile as big as the Mersey. The Liverpool players stood in front of the Kop, with an exception of those doing their media responsibilities linking arms to sing another iconic version of You’ll Never Walk Alone. An out-of-sync rendition of Imagine would soon follow as supporters showed, as expected, a lack of urgency to leave Anfield as the joy of reaching a 3rd European final in 4 seasons set in as well as the 2nd time a Jurgen Klopp Liverpool team had beaten a Barcelona side 4-0 since he took charge.