Liverpool beat Roma 5-2 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final and here are 3 things that worked perfectly for The Reds
The footballing world had their eyes glued to Anfield as Liverpool hosted Roma in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semi-final and my word, what a match we witnessed!
Liverpool qualified after a thumping 5-1 aggregate win over fellow English team Manchester City and AS Roma reached the semi-finals after an incredible comeback against Barcelona.
The first half was an end-to-end affair and surprisingly, it was Roma who started the game on the front foot. Liverpool took their time to settle in and the deadlock was broken in the 35th minute by none other than Mohammed Salah.
The Egyptian’s effort was simply unreachable for Alisson as Salah curled the ball into the far-post which went into the back of the net after grazing the underside of the crossbar.
It was Salah who stole the headlines once again as he doubled their lead with a delicious chip over Alisson who charged forward after being put through on goal by Firmino.
The second-half started in similar fashion and despite Roma’s best efforts to get back into the game, Mane and Firmino got on the score sheet after brilliant work from Salah. Firmnino got his second in the 68th minute as he rose highest to meet Milner’s corner.
Roma fought back and found themselves back in the game through Edin Dzeko who expertly finished past Karius after he was picked out by Naingollan. And, just 4 minutes later, the visitors were awarded a penalty after Milner was penalised for a handball inside the box.
Perotti stepped up and made no mistake to make the scoreline 5-2 and provided a case for optimism for the Roma faithful and a nervy end to Liverpool.
Here are 3 things that went right for Liverpool today:
#3 A strong second-half
Yes, despite conceding twice late on, Liverpool did not give Roma even a sniff of the goal in the second half, while they themselves scored three.
Liverpool took their time to settle in the match and at times it looked as if it was not the easy fixture that appeared on paper, particularly in the first-half.
Roma got off to a strong start and Liverpool’s midfield took time to find their feet. Roma’s high pressing, in the beginning, may have caught Liverpool off-guard as many of their passes went wayward.
However, after racing to a 2-0 lead at half-time, one might have expected Roma to come out firing on all cylinders in the second-half but that was not the case as Liverpool completely dominated proceedings when the game restarted and proved to be a tough nut to crack.
Even though forward Patrick Schick was brought on by Di Francesco, Liverpool’s defence stood tall and negated any influence the forward tried to inject.
Roma found the going tough in the second-half and despite bagging two valuable away goals towards the end of the game, there were times when even the most optimistic of Roma fans thought that the tie was over, particularly when Liverpool went 5-0 up.
#2 Wijnaldum stepped up brilliantly
In a match of high stakes, it takes a great deal of tactical nous and mastery from managers to roll out the perfect system in a bid to thwart their opponents.
Chamberlain had one of his finest performances in a Liverpool shirt against Manchester City in the quarter-finals over the two legs and Klopp decided to hand him the start ahead of Wijnaldum because the former provides more going forward.
However, in the 18th minute, Klopp had to go back to his drawing board as Chamberlian had to be substituted after he attempted a tackle on the flank. Wijnaldum was subbed-in and he, despite not being as skilful on the ball as many of his teammates stepped up and put in a strong performance.
Roma were the better team in the first quarter of the match and this was largely down to their midfield being completely outplayed by their Italian counterparts. Wijnaldum’s introduction turned out to be a blessing in disguise as his presence made their midfield more stable and helped Liverpool to take advantage.
He complemented Henderson and Milner perfectly and at times when Roma looked to be on the front foot and hoped to get back into the game, particularly in the second half, Wijnaldum helped to calm things in the middle of the park and did his defensive duties perfectly.
#1 Their breathtaking front three
We are actually running out of adjectives, aren’t we?
Arguably the best attacking trio in Europe this season, Liverpool needed all their main men to be on the top of their game against the sturdy Roma team and my word, weren’t they just brilliant yet again!
Salah put in yet another man-of-the-match performance as he scored a brace and set up another two on the night. Firmino, also padded up similar numbers as he proved again how valuable he is to the way Liverpool’s attack orchestrates.
Despite missing a couple of easy chances in the first half, Mane raised his game in the second half and found himself on the score sheet.
The trio has helped Liverpool to score an incredible 33 goals in the Champions League this season and the Liverpool faithful will be hoping things stay the same for a long, long time.