Rome, May 3 (TNS): Five-time European champions Liverpool reached the champions league final on Wednesday albeit a 4-2 defeat in the second leg of the intriguing semifinal at the hands of AS Roma at Stadio Olimpicio.
The Reds suffered their first defeat at the hands of the Italian outfit but did enough to go through to the final in Kiev.
Liverpool’s winger Sadio Mane scored a crucial away goal for the away side but the lead was cancelled out by an own goal by James Milner in the 15th minute, making it 1-1.
On a corner, Liverpool exploited Roma’s zonal marking and won the second ball, as Gini Wijnaldum scrambled in a goal which turned out to be a winner.
Midway through the second half AS Roma’s prolific goalscorer Edin Dzeko equalized for the Italians, cutting the deficit to three goals.
Roma’s Belgium star made the score even more dramatic as he scored a brace in last five minutes of the game, including a penalty in the dying seconds.
The tie finished 7-6 on aggregate, as Naingollan could not get his side over the line, and Liverpool hung in the last minutes of the game to get a ticket to Kiev.
Liverpool’s jubilated manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game, “It was the first semi-final for most of the boys – it’s completely normal that you have to keep your nerve in situations like this. We deserve it 100%. It’s right that we lost the game tonight, but Real Madrid needed luck last night and against Juve in the last round. We have two weeks to prepare for the final. Let’s go there and try our best.”
Meanwhile, Roma’s coach Di Francesco praised his boys and said, “The lads have done something extraordinary and I can assure you it’s not easy for players, after gifting two goals to go 2-1 down, to come back. It was almost a perfect game. This has got to convince us that we can compete at these levels.”
Liverpool will now take on Real Madrid in the all-important final, and their first in 11 years on May 26 in Ukraine.