Liverpool through to Champions League final despite second-leg loss
Liverpool have beaten Roma 7-6 on aggregate to progress to the Champions League final.
After beating the Italian side 5-2 last week, Liverpool were heavy favourites to win from the start and took an early lead before Roma came back late on. The Italian side scored twice in the last five minutes but time ran out just after a Radja Nainggolan penalty deep into stoppage time.
Roma piled on the pressure though and a James Milner own goal, as well as a goal from Edin Dzeko and two from Nainggolan, led them to a 4-2 victory on the night.
Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum netted to ensure Liverpool’s three-goal first-leg cushion was enough to send them through.
It was a dream start for Liverpool when they extended their aggregate lead in the ninth minute. Nainggolan gave the ball away to Roberto Firmino who put Mane through to score from 12 yards.
That meant that Roma needed to score four without reply. They managed a first in the 15th minute when Dejan Lovren cleared a Stephan El Shaarawy header directly onto Milner’s head for the ball to deflect in.
Mane nearly scored a second goal soon after but his shot was fantastically saved by the feet of Alisson.
The four-goal cushion was restored in the 26th minute. With Liverpool controlling play, Dzeko failed to clear a corner and Wijnaldum headed in from close range.
Roma grew back into the game from there, though. El Shaarawy hit the post from the edge of the area before Dzeko’s shot was blocked. Then, El Shaarawy thought he had won a penalty when he went down in the box but the referee said no.
The Roma pressure continued into the second half and they came close to winning a penalty five minutes after the restart. Dzeko was brought down by goalkeeper Loris Karius, and it would have been a penalty if the assistant’s flag had not gone up for offside.
Dzeko did pull a goal back two minutes later, though. El Shaarawy’s shot was parried into his path to smash the ball past Karius.
No matter how unlikely it was that Roma would score three more goals, they kept putting the pressure on the Liverpool defence. Dzeko caused problems once again but headed over from a freekick.
The next chance fell to Cengiz Under when he was first to a ball into the box, but Karius saved low.
Another penalty appeal came for Roma in the 64th minute, and this time Liverpool were let off hugely. Trent Alexander-Arnold deflected a cross to Patrik Schick before throwing his arms at the forward’s shot. The referee, however, deemed it accidental.
It had been a while since Liverpool had attacked, but Firmino could have put the tie beyond doubt with 20 minutes remaining. Alisson was equal to it though to save with his legs.
Dzeko saw a shot go wide and another saved by Karius in the closing stages.
With four minutes remaining, Nainggolan’s beauty put Roma to within two goals of Liverpool. A sweet strike from 25 yards curled past Karis and nestled into the back of the net off the inside of the post.
Roma finally won a penalty deep into stoppage time when Ragnar Klavan was deemed to have handballed. Nainggolan stepped up to power the ball home but it was too little too late as the final whistle was blown straight afterwards.
Liverpool will play Real Madrid, who beat Bayern on Tuesday, in the final on Saturday, May 26.