Lovren completes stunning comeback
Liverpool 4 B Dortmund 3
Published 15/04/2016 | 02:30
The ghost of Jurgen Klopp's past against a premonition of his future, and if the future means more magnificent European nights like this one, then victory over Borussia Dortmund could be the start of something remarkable for Liverpool and their electrifying new manager.
Quite simply, his Liverpool team rode a wave of emotion in a spectacular second leg that saw them come from behind twice to snatch a place in the Europa League semi-final in injury-time against one of the best teams in Europe. Two goals down within nine minutes, 3-1 down on 57 minutes, back to 3-3 at 77 minutes, Liverpool won the game with a back-post header from Dejan Lovren, and Anfield went into a frenzy.
These are the nights, and these are the performances for which they brought Klopp to Anfield but no one thought that he would do it so soon or against as great an institution as the club he took to the very top in Germany, who were, until this night, unbeaten this year.
Klopp turned again and again to the home fans, urging them to make more noise, generate more emotion for the cause. Two goals behind to a Dortmund team who looked exceptional, Klopp's players came back with goals from Divock Origi, Philippe Coutinho, Mamadou Sakho and then Lovren.
In a great Dortmund side the quality of Marco Reus, scorer of his team's third goal, as well as other luminaries such as Mats Hummels and the excellent young Julian Weigl, always looked like it would prevail - but Klopp's Liverpool are different. They do not give up.
Through all the pageantry pre-kick-off, the two sets of supporters joining together to sing an extended You'll Never Walk Alone, and then the Hillsborough mosaic on the Kop and the minute's silence for the 27th anniversary this was a game in which emotions, painful or otherwise, were stirred before the start.
Then we began, and Dortmund reminded English football, their hosts and former manager just why they are one of Europe's form teams. If the first leg in Germany had been a series of frustrations for the great yellow machine then this was them operating at maximum capacity and it was impressive.
Klopp's team looked baldy exposed at times in midfield, with often just Emre Can left to man the fort in midfield and the punishment was brutal.
It took Thomas Tuchel's side four minutes to score their first, a goal that began with an error by Coutinho in the Dortmund half and ended around 20 seconds later with Simon Mignolet picking the ball out of his net.
Liverpool's Brazilian misjudged a pass to Alberto Moreno and from there Henrikh Mkhitaryan carried the ball forward swiftly. It went from Shinji Kagawa to Gonzalo Castro and then into the area where Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had his shot saved. Following up was Mkhitaryan to guide the ball home.
There is always a danger that a mistake can leave you vulnerable to the counter-attack but it was the shocking precision with which Dortmund had ripped through the home side that seemed still to be on Liverpool minds when they conceded the second.
This was the ninth minute when Reus stole the ball from Origi in the Dortmund half and charged forward over the halfway line.
Reus' pass from the left channel with his right foot was exceptional, evading midfield and defence to reach the right foot of Aubameyang, who finished high into the net at Mignolet's left post. Klopp's team already needed three goals to reach the semi-finals.
Liverpool had chances after that in the first half, but Dortmund had plenty too. Nagging at the Liverpool team was the knowledge that, to score, they had to start taking chances in defence and they had seen what Dortmund could do when they did that.
Klopp did what he could to make them believe it was possible, turning to the fans behind him with fist clenched demanding that they get behind his team.
Adam Lallana had a chance but could not get his feet sorted out in time. Origi flicked a cross from James Milner wide. At the other end, however, there were chances for more and Aubameyang was a much greater threat than he had been in the first leg.
Klopp had a strange situation to make sense of to his players at half-time - a performance that had its bright points but was being measured against another from one of the silkiest teams in Europe. The early goal arrived, however, for Liverpool three minutes into the second half and suddenly they had something to aim for.
It was a beautifully worked, right through the heart of Dortmund's midfield and defence. The architect was Can, who exchanged passes with Milner and then Roberto Firmino before clipping a ball beyond Dortmund's back four for Origi to stretch out his right boot and push beyond Roman Weidenfeller.
Reus scored the third for Dortmund nine minutes later, finishing cleanly after Hummels had played arguably the best pass of the night, a left-footed lock-picker that was threaded past three red shirts on to Reus' toes.
Klopp made his big change of the night. On came Joe Allen and, critically, Daniel Sturridge for the final charge.
On 66 minutes Coutinho drove in Liverpool's second, right-footed, after cutting in from the left and bouncing a pass off Milner. It was a superb goal and at last the Brazilian had truly affected the game for his team.
When Sakho headed in the equaliser the chase was on. Sturridge set up Milner, who crossed for Lovren to score the winner and bring the evening to an astonishing crescendo. (© Daily Telegraph, London)