Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down on aggregate to secure their place in the final of the Champions League
Surely, truly, this was the greatest night even in Liverpool’s incredible, impossible European history.
Surely it was the greatest performance in the club’s entire history too. Even with Istanbul, even with Rome. This surpassed them all as Jurgen Klopp made the impossible happen.
And only at Anfield could this happen. Only with this crowd, only with this team could this happen.
Could this Champons’ League miracle happen? Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum were the heroes, but then, they were all heroes. Players and fans.
Even now, Barcelona are asking what did happen? They left the pitch shellshocked and in tears.
They left with their reputation in tatters. This great, majestic, magnificent team was reduced to rubble by an atmosphere which destroyed them.
Never before has this famous old stadium been shaken to its very foundations like this. The noise, the sheer power of the Kop was greater even than in the 2005 semi, which is regarded as the benchmark.
This was football at its most raw, and most beautiful, the sheer ferocity and emotion of a quite astonishing night making even Lionel Messi look a mere mortal, and Barcelona a pub team at times. Never in their history can they have given the ball away so often.
That is what this occasion did to them. They could not handle Anfield. In the modern parlance of social media, they simply bottled in the firestorm they faced. And at the end of it all, Liverpool are back in the Champions’ League final.
It took all the genius of Klopp to get them there. It is one thing feeding off the greatest atmosphere in club football, but another executing the perfect game-plan without a moment’s hesitation or nerves. This was a clinical performance wrapped in emotion.
Klopp had said they needed to stay smart, not to get too carried away at the start. Some hope. It was deafening, intimidating, pulsating. No plastic, just real fans and a real stadium.
It worked too. Never have Barcelona looked so uncomfortable on the ball than in the first 15 minutes, surely never have they been so rattled as a team. Within 60 seconds, Liverpool could so easily have scored, only a desperate Jordi Alba lunge denying Jordan Henderson a tap in.
Henderson was at the heart of everything, backed by the imperious confidence of Sadio Mane. After seven minutes, the early goal arrived. You swear the roof physically lifted.
It was a fine goal too as Mane beautifully read a defensive header from Alba, and fed Henderson who jinked into the box. His left foot shot was saved, but Origi was alive and turned home the rebound.
Barca had their moments, but they always look rattled. Luis Suarez was exposed by the Kop as a cheat – hacking Andy Robertson off the ball and eventually forcing the full back off. But even that was a mistake by the visitors.
It meant Wijnaldum came on after the break, and he provided perhaps the greatest contribution a substitute has ever delivered with two goals in two impossible minutes. First, Alexander-Arnold nicked the ball from Alba, and his cross was brilliantly converted by the Dutchman.
Then he smashed home a header from Shaqiri’s cross. The sound was off the charts, as was Barca blood pressure. From that moment, they knew it was over.
It was Origi who put them out of their misery, with a goal 11 minutes from time that could have them building a statue, such has been his dramatic season. Alexander-Arnold deserves a medal too, spotting him free at a corner and firing to the neat post for him to convert first time.
There were tense final minutes as Liverpool defended their lead, but it was never in doubt. Klopp and the Kop were never going to be denied.
At the end Mohamed Salah ran onto the pitch, wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan “Never Give Up”. These Reds – all of them – don’t know the meaning of those words.