Liverpool have form for stunning European comebacks and this will go down alongside the best of them as they snatched an added-time winner to beat Borussia Dortmund in a modern-day Anfield classic.
All hope seemed lost at 2-0 down – 3-1 on aggregate – after ten minutes and later at 3-1 behind on the night and 4-2 adrift over the two legs, but the hosts dug deep and produced a remarkable turnaround which ended with Dejan Lovren scoring a dramatic winner. A 4-3 win carried Liverpool through 5-4 on aggregate.
Manager Jurgen Klopp’s assertion back in November that “we decide when it is over” rang true as his players gave every part of their being to put them into the Europa League semi-finals.
In a blistering start, Dortmund looked to be sending Liverpool out of the competition with the sort of football on which they have made their name.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s volley from Gonzalo Castro’s cross was worthy of a goal but Simon Mignolet saved well, only for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to fire in the rebound.
With the away goal cancelled out, Dortmund went for the jugular, with another swift counter-attack. A brilliant pass from Marco Reus in behind Mamadou Sakho was superbly converted with ferocious power by Aubameyang.
If Dortmund’s start had been electrifying, Liverpool’s opening to the second half was not far off matching it. Within three minutes, Divock Origi poked Emre Can’s through-ball past Roman Weidenfeller, and the newly-installed roof on the half-constructed new Main Stand nearly came off.
But within ten minutes Reus had made it 3-1 to seemingly put the game to bed after another exquisite pass inside the full-back, this time by centre-back Mats Hummels.
Substitutes Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen were introduced on the hour and the changes were just the lift the team needed. When Philippe Coutinho drilled home from the edge of the area hopes of a Mission Impossible rose again.
Sakho’s stooping header 13 minutes from time made it even more likely as Dortmund tried to shut down the game, almost abandoning any attacking intent for the sake of self-preservation.
It proved in vain as in the first of four added minutes a clever free-kick saw Sturridge backheel to James Milner who crossed for Lovren to head in.