UEFA Champions League – Semi Final 1-Leg 2: Liverpool in the Final
AS Roma battled against Liverpool at the Stadio Olimpico to pull off an unlikely comeback and book a place for themselves in the final. The first leg had finished 5-2 in favor of Liverpool who came into this match firmly in the driving seat.
It ended up being another enthralling game which Roma won 4-2. However, Liverpool still progressed to the final courtesy of having won 7-6 on aggregate across both games.
- Roma started the match with intent and were immediately on the attack. They tried to play with directness and put in dangerous balls for Edin Dzeko to get on the end off. They did find some joy in their approach and produced one particularly good chance that Dzeko headed wide under pressure from the imposing Van Dijk.
- However, all of AS Roma’s early efforts were thrown away courtesy of sloppiness in midfield. Radja Nainggolan miscued a pass in the center of the park and handed it straight to Roberto Firmino. Like most of the season, Firmino made the opposition pay. The Brazillian played a wonderful through ball for Mane who coolly finished from about 12 yards out.
- Liverpool’s one goal lead on the night didn’t last for long though and, once again, they showed fragility on the defensive end. Stephan El Shaarawy’s header across goal created havoc inside the box. Dejan Lovren ended up kicking the ball straight into James Milner’s face who deflected it back past Karius and into the net.
- Liverpool took the own goal on the chin and continued to probe the Roma defence. Salah, who was having a quiet game, had a shot on goal and Andy Robertson made a slaloming run into the box to create a chance which Mane was unable to finish.
- The goal did eventually come for the visiting side and this time it was the Italians who shot themselves in the foot. Roma failed to convincingly clear a corner and Dzeko’s header fell kindly for Wijnaldum who made no mistake in front of the Roman keeper.
- The half ended with end to end football. Both teams created chances but it was Roma who had the better ones. The hosts hit the post and had a strong penalty appeal turned down as the first half came to a close.
- The second half started with Liverpool looking to completely kill the tie off. They created some good openings through the more active Salah but nothing to worry Roma too much.
- In fact, it was Roma who created the best early opportunity after Edin Dzeko was put through on goal. Dzeko smartly rounded the keeper who brought him down to the ground. It looked a blatant foul and a penalty but Dzeko was adjudged to have been offside. The call for offside was very tight and could have gone either way.
- Roma got a goal soon after the penalty shout however after Edin Dzeko calmly controlled the ball and slotted it home after El Shaarawy’s shot had been parried by Karius in the box.
- Both sides created half chances for themselves and tried to take the lead on the night. Sadio Mane and Cengiz Under in particular had decent opportunities to change the score line.
- Around the hour mark, Roma had another strong penalty appeal turned down. This one was a certain penalty and Liverpool were mightily fortunate to escape. After deflecting the ball to Patrick Schick, Trent Alexander-Arnold blocked the forward’s shot with his arms and it looked pretty deliberate. The referee didn’t see it however, and waived off the Roman protests.
- The game continued to be frantic after the penalty appeal but it wasn’t until the 88th minute that the game got its fifth goal when the ball came across to Radja Nainggolan, who just leathered it from 25 yards out. Lorus Karius stood and watched as the ball rattled off the inside of the post and into the goal.
- The goal set up a nervy finish to the game as Roma continued to throw men forward. They got the just rewards for their courage as well and were awarded a penalty which Nainggolan duly converted. The goal meant Roma lead 4-2 on the night and needed just one more goal to force extra time.
- In the end, the Romans simply didn’t have enough time and, despite their brave efforts, it was Liverpool who advanced to the final.
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