While excitement of Liverpool reaching their first Champions League semi-final since 2008 was understandable, it was tempered by the challenge that Roma, who sensationally knocked out Barcelona, were sure to bring.
The Italian side did offer a decent account of themselves in the first 25 minutes of tonight’s first leg at Anfield, but a remarkable brace from Mohamed Salah to make it 43 goals this season for the imperious Egyptian.
Liverpool’s pace upfront, coupled with the Roma defence’s high-line, saw their forward line get behind Roma’s back-line time and time again. This contrast intensified in the second half, as the PFA ‘Player of the Year’ provided two assists for his forward partners Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
Firmino’s second goal in the 69th minute looked to have condemned Roma’s chances of qualifying for the final in Kiev.
Rome need to pack their bags and go home now. A joke of a Champions League semi final. Shambolic.
— Liam Canning (@LiamPaulCanning) April 24, 2018
Liverpool have been class but this is a stunning collapse by Roma.
— Richie Sadlier (@RichieSadlier) April 24, 2018
"Rome wasn't built in a day, but it's been dismantled in an hour!" – @Robbie9Fowler
— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) April 24, 2018
Jurgen Klopp was understandably keen to rest his talisman Salah ahead of next week’s away leg in Rome, as the Egyptian magician left the pitch to a standing ovation.
His departure seemed to give the hapless Romans a second wind however, as Edin Dzeko, who looked for all the world to be surplus to requirements, got on the scoresheet with ten minutes to go. Still armed with a four goal cushion, there was no need for Liverpool to panic.
Soon after, a penalty was awarded against James Milner for handball, which was duly slotted home by Diego Perotti to make it 5-2 with a crucial second away goal.
— Michael Green (@michaelsville) April 24, 2018
This Roma comeback is a credit to their club.
— Eoin McDevitt (@EoinMcDevitt) April 24, 2018
Liverpool, perhaps emptying their tank in what was still one of the great attacking displays seen in the competition, limped to the final whistle, maintaining a three goal lead that could have been much higher.
Liverpool had a mad 20 minutes but Roma recognised and seized on it. Bit like Juve pouncing on the small weaknesses Spurs showed in their tie. It is not over.
— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) April 24, 2018
Roma will believe now…
Another Stadio Olimpico miracle???
I can’t see it happening again but their fans have something to hold on to.
— John Bennett (@JohnBennettBBC) April 24, 2018
Wondering if taking Mo off at that point was a mistake #LIVROM
— James 🅻🅵🅲 (@HotActionKop) April 24, 2018
That Barcelona result will be in the forefront of the minds of many ahead of the return leg, with Roma also clawing back an away defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in the last 16 stage. While the Reds are still the distinct favourites to advance to the final, it’s still, somehow, game on.
Excerpt from the documentary 'Il Miracolo Di Roma' (2038):
(Translator): "We were down and out. Beaten. Then we saw Danny Ings coming on. Even though we were 5-0 down, we all felt this was an insult too far."
— Jonathan Liew (@jonathanliew) April 24, 2018
It's almost as if Roma's customary 4-3-3 suited this game better than the high-pressing, channel-vacating 3-4-1-2 di Francesco idiotically persisted with.
— Alan O'Brien (@alanob2112) April 24, 2018
Little bit down in the stadium at the end. But two away goals will be mitigated by the basic terror of having to play against Salah again next week
— Barney Ronay (@barneyronay) April 24, 2018
All over surely in terms of the tie. I mean, Roma haven't overturned a 3 goal deficit in Europe for a whole fortnight
— Oliver Holt (@OllieHolt22) April 24, 2018
People are upset Klopp took Salah off but if you can't make a substitution when your team is 5-0 up, when the fuck can you? Anyway, his absence doesn't explain the sudden defensive lapses. #LIVROM
— Angry Bosnian Fan (@AngryBosnianFan) April 24, 2018
Salah will get all of the plaudits tonight, and rightly so. But Firmino really deserves huge praise too. 2 goals and 2 assists in a CL semi-final. 44 goal contributions in all competitions this season now, plus he allows the likes of Salah/Mané to thrive aswell. So influential.
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) April 24, 2018
What a remarkable game that was!!at 5-0 I thought it’d be 6 or 7!!but when Salah went off(and I understand where jurgen coming from)it gave them a bit of impetus to have a go!salah ridiculous firmino brill!ynwa
— John Aldridge (@Realaldo474) April 24, 2018
Crazy, crazy night. Liverpool will be disappointed with the last 10 minutes, but how can you complain with a 5-2 win in a CL semi final? They'll score in Italy, surely. Salah next level brilliant tonight, Firmino not far behind. TAA, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner excellent.
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) April 24, 2018