Rome, May 3: Liverpool are headed to their first Champions League final since 2007 despite falling 4-2 here in the semifinal second leg against AS Roma.
Thanks to a 5-2 triumph in the first leg at Anfield, the Reds prevailed 7-6 on aggregate and booked their ticket to the May 26 final in Kiev, where they will face a Real Madrid side that is hoping to hoist the trophy for a third consecutive year, reports Efe news.
Nearly 62,000 people filled the stands at the Stadio Olimpico here for Wednesday’s showdown between Liverpool — with the most away goals in the 2017-18 Champions League — and the hosts, who had yet to concede a goal at home in the current edition of the tournament.
Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco started the game with the clear intent of keeping four men behind the ball at all times, but the strategy broke down in the ninth minute, when a poor pass by midfielder Radja Nainggolan resulted in a goal for Liverpool by Sadio Mane.
But the home side pulled level on the night just six minutes later thanks to a Liverpool own goal as Dejan Lovren’s attempt at clearance bounced off teammate James Milner’s head to end up in the net.
Roma supporters, dreaming of a repeat of the team’s amazing quarterfinal comeback against Barcelona, urged their heroes on only to see the next goal go to Liverpool, courtesy of Georginio Wijnaldum’s header following a corner in the 26th minute.
The Italian side reacted by throwing bodies forward and nearly clawed back a goal in the 35th minute with a Stephen El Shaarawy strike that hit the post .
The teams went to the dressing rooms with Liverpool leading 2-1 on the night and 7-3 overall.
Six minutes after the restart, Edin Dzeko pounced on a loose ball and beat Reds keeper Loris Karius to bring Roma to within three goals on aggregate.
Liverpool withstood a series of Roma assaults in quick succession before getting a lucky break when the officials missed a hand ball by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Just when the tie appeared settled, Nainggolan scored from outside the area in the 84th minute, the first of what would turn out to be two goals in less than 10 minutes.
When the referee awarded Roma a penalty in the 93rd, Nainggolan stepped to the stop and converted to put his side up 4-2 on the night.
With just seconds left, however, that marked the high point for Roma and Liverpool escaped with the 7-6 win. IANS