‘It was like Barcelona’: Jurgen Klopp likens Liverpool’s fightback against Villarreal to the memorable Champions League semi-final victory in 2019 as Reds boss speaks of delight at reaching his fourth final
- Liverpool were trailing 2-0 at the break but recovered to win 5-2 on aggregate
- Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3 in 2019 semi-final
- Jurgen Klopp’s side will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final
Liverpool climbed off the floor to reach their tenth European Cup final with a comeback that Jurgen Klopp insisted had shades of Barcelona.
Klopp’s side will line-up against Real Madrid or Manchester City on May 28 after a 3-2 win in Villarreal gave them a 5-2 aggregate success. It is the first time they had won away leg in the semi-finals since 1985 and they did so thanks to goals from Fabinho, substitute Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane.
But that gives only a snap shot of what happened as Liverpool were trailing 2-0 at the break and looking very much like their pursuit of the Quadruple was going to end here. As it was, Klopp made some tweaks, introducing Diaz for Diogo Jota, and they took off.
Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool’s comeback at Villarreal had shades of Barcelona
Liverpool survived a huge scare at Villarreal to reach the Champions League final
Liverpool came back from the dead against Barcelona in 2019 and did likewise against Borussia Dortmund in the 2016 Europa League quarter-finals but both those games were at Anfield, which is why Tuesday night’s achievement meant so much to Klopp.
Klopp, reaching his fourth Champions League final, said: ‘I am delighted. It feels like the first one. This is the best competition in the world, I absolutely love it and I love what Villarreal did here with the crowd pushing them on.
‘The game looked like it looked at half-time and the whole world was watching expecting 2-0 to become 3-0. But when we played through them for the first time and got into the half-spaces, I knew we had a chance. I don’t like to compare but, yes, it was like Barcelona and the other games.
Luis Diaz restored Liverpool’s two-goal aggregate advantage with a header at the back post
Sadio Mane sealed victory with a third goal after taking the ball around Rulli in 74th minute
Liverpool will play every game in the football calendar this season and Klopp said: ‘What did I say to them at half-time? Play better than the first half! We just had to stay calm. What can I say now? Only one chance to win a final is to get there.
‘We’ve played so many games, three competitions and are not finished yet. I know these stories, first half a lot of people might have been happy we got a knock. It’s difficult to reach three finals but we’ve made that happen.’
Fabinho started the comeback and said: ‘I think their team gave everything in the first half. We knew the first 15-20 minutes would be really important. They scored first and their fans felt it. They were supporting them and cheering for them so it was hard for us. But we had to try and play football and I think we did in the second half. We scored three goals and I think we could have scored four.’
Villarreal finished with 10 men after Etienne Capoue was sent-off and Unai Emery said: ‘We can be happy because of the way we were. But when you lose you are still sad. They deserve to play the final because at Anfield we didn’t play as we should have. The difference between the first and the second legs were the difference.’
Liverpool fought back from 3-0 down to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in 2019 semi-final
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