Manchester City: Ederson, Kyle Walker, Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte, Fernandinho, David Silva, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Bernardo Silva, Gabriel Jesus
Liverpool: Loris Karius, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino
ALLEZ! ALLEZ! ALLEZ!
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SEMIFINAL NIGHT IS COMING TO ANFIELD!
Second-half goals from Mo Salah and Bobby Firmino gave Liverpool a 2-1 victory in the second leg and a 5-1 triumph on aggregate. It was an unbelievable end to a night that began nowhere near ideal for the Reds.
Most people would barely have settled into their seats when Virgil van Dijk’s mistake allowed City in to score their first goal in the third minute. The big Dutchman brought the ball out of defence but was pushed away from the ball and he stopped waiting for the referee’s whistle that never came.
The space that was vacated by Van Dijk was filled by Sterling who squared it to Gabriel Jesus to give City the perfect start.
After that, it was relentless pressure from City as wave after wave of sky blue kept hitting the Reds, but much like the second half at Anfield, the rearguard stood firm for the large part.
But it took two huge slices of lady luck for Liverpool for the score to remain unchanged at half-time. Bernardo Silva cut in on that sweet left peg of his and unleashed a curler, that brushed the head of Dejan Lovren and absolutely smashed into Loris Karius’ far post.
Barely a minute later, Liverpool got a nice helping hand from the officials, as what looked a good goal from Leroy Sane was ruled out by the assistant’s flag being raised. On watching back, it is still difficult to figure what the assistant raised his flag for.
Liverpool came out a different team in the second half. The ball was being kept better. Wijnaldum and Milner were able to shrug off a manic City press, and Liverpool were slowly but surely getting into it.
And sure enough, the goal that sealed the tie arrived soon enough. Who scored it? Does it need saying? It shall be said anyway.
Mo Salah picked up the ball from Chamberlain and played it through to Mane on the right side. The Senegalese weaved his way through, but Ederson could only parry it off Mane’s feet into the left foot of Salah.
THE LEFT FOOT OF SALAH. DEATH KNELL FOR MANCHESTER CITY
That goal knocked the stuffing out of City, and it was a matter of being professional for Liverpool.
But they went on and only won the second leg itself. Firmino pressed Otamendi on the left side and won the ball back. He ran through one-on-one with Ederson and played a finish off the post to set off unadulterated joy at the away end at the Etihad.
From then till the referee’s final whistle, “Allez Allez Allez” was the only sound heard inside the Etihad.
A bunch of mighty Redmen. A proud German leading them. Now, they are in a Champions League semi-final! European royalty, they said, didn’t they?