The scenes at Anfield were simply spectacular as Liverpool completed a jaw-dropping comeback from 3-1 down to win 4-3, defeating Borussia Dortmund 5-4 on aggregate over two legs of quality football. The atmosphere was lively, and the volume was deafening, only silencing to honor the 96 victims of the Hillsborough incident. It wasn’t easy for the Reds, but it was just another European night as Jürgen Klopp’s men inscribed their names into Liverpool lore.
The visitors strike twice early
Despite the wonderful scenes that took place before the match, it would be nothing but tragedy as Liverpool suffered a massive breakdown within eight minutes. Poor defending saw Liverpool swept away by Dortmund’s counter attack as smart pass over the top found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Simon Mignolet did well to stop Aubameyang’s close range effot, but Henrikh Mkhitaryan was first to the loose ball to tuck home for the visitors.
Shortly after, Liverpool would concede once more. A Liverpool turnover sent Dortmund away on the counter attack with Marco Reus threading a beautiful through ball to Aubameyang. The Dortmund striker made no mistake, firing into the top right corner. Mamadou Sakho should have done better to cover the run of Aubameyang, getting caught flat-footed and nowhere near his man.
The chances for Liverpool would come as the home side refused to lie down. Divock Origi had a multitude of chances to bring Liverpool back into the tie, but the young striker simply wasn’t able to finish. His first effort came from a difficult angle, and another came in the form of a flick from a James Milner cross. Both chances would go just wide of the goal as Liverpool continued to fail to put their chances away.
Dortmund would nearly kill the tie off in the 32nd minute as Lukas Piszczek sent a dangerous cross towards Aubameyang. The Dortmund striker was unmarked and had the entire goal to work with, but a smart intervention from Mignolet tips the cross just out of Aubameyang’s path. Liverpool had been enjoying most of the offensive possession, but that had slowly changed as Dortmund carried the momentum into the break.
The Reds go marching on, scoring four goals in the second half
After a goalless first half for Liverpool, it only took minutes out of halftime for the Reds to find the net. Emre Can slipped a perfect ball down the middle that Origi ran onto. The Liverpool youngster did well to fight off both Dortmund centre-backs and slot home under Roman Weidenfeller. The roar from the Kop was deafening as the Reds found a way back into the match.
The visitors would not be daunted by the Anfield crowd, and did well to respond only eight minutes later, silencing the crowd. Mats Hummels threaded a neat pass through the shambolic Liverpool defense to find Marco Reus. Despite the narrow angle, Reus’ shot was pin perfect as it sailed past Mignolet and snuck into the net on the far side post.
A double change from Jürgen Klopp, introducing Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen into the fray, would mark the turning point of the match for the Reds. Shortly after their introduction, Philippe Coutinho would offer Liverpool a lifeline. It was a brilliant solo effort from the Brazilian magician as he cut inside onto his right foot and struck a low and hard effort past Weidenfeller.
Liverpool still had a mountain to climb, and despite growing pressure from the home side, Dortmund looked very solid to deny the Reds at every opportunity. There were plenty of corners for Liverpool, but there was growing frustration as Milner consistently failed to get any of them past the first man. It was almost fitting that on the first corner kick not taken by him that Liverpool found themselves level. Coutinho sent the ball into the box, and the Dortmund defenders did poor to clear the danger as Sakho nodded home, atoning for his earlier defensive sins.
The stage was then set for an electric close to the tie with Liverpool searching for the winning goal in the last 10 minutes. The Reds would battle to see any of the ball as Dortmund looked to close the match and advance on away goals. However, the pressure of the tie eventually got to the visitors as they committed a foul on the right side of the pitch. Milner would play the free kick to Sturridge and sprint up the field to collect the return. His resulting cross was met by Dejan Lovren who nodded home, completing Liverpool’s dramatic comeback.
This was a match that lived up to all of the hype. Kopites just felt that this would be another one of their special European nights, and while the match didn’t start bright, Liverpool persevered to deliver what was certainly the best match of the Europa League season. Not only did they win, the Reds also saved their season and hopes of reaching the Champions League as the top four race seems to be all but over. The stakes were as high as they get, and Liverpool leaped a massive hurdle to punch their ticket to the semi-finals.