The three-goal lead has never felt like a particularly dangerous advantage – until Roma faced history and the football gods in April 2018.
I Giallorossi had lost 4-1 in Barcelona, but turned the Champions League quarter-final over in Rome, defeating the Catalan giants 3-0 to create an appetizing semi-final against Liverpool.
Honestly, it seemed that Roma’s luck was exhausted in the first game at Anfield, as they were 5-0 down after 68 minutes. Not exactly what Eusebio Di Francesco and his players meant. But two late goals by Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti again narrowed Liverpool’s lead to just three goals – that magic number.
Certainly the Reds would not allow the Italian giants to organize an even bigger shock return to reach the Champions League final … right?
The atmosphere was electric in Stadio Olimpico under the European lights on May 2, 2018, as the supporters expressed their feelings to their warriors on the field: We may not have believed that this was possible against Barça, but we certainly do.
Liverpool knew they had to get out and immediately put down any hopes of a comeback, kill the excited home crowd and set out to put the game beyond Jalorossi. An incorrect pass in eight minutes was buried by the “reds”, and Roberto Firmino played Sadio Mane at the door, who did not make a mistake. Clinically and at its best
6-2 together, and Jurgen Klopp’s men did the professional work of the sincere Italians. Seven minutes later, professionalism was replaced by a circus act. A cross coming in on the right hand side left Stephan El Shaarawy alone in front of the goal, but his shot glanced harmlessly off the crossbar.
Unfortunately for the Croatian defender, he tried his clear directly in the face of James Milner, and the ball bounced back to the goal and outside Loris Carius. Trouble and a few doubts began to creep in.
Manet had to restore Liverpool’s lead in the night after 24 minutes, but the then Roma Alison Becker just managed to pull out a boot and turn his low shot around the corner post. However, this postponement for the hosts was short-lived, as they failed to deal with a corner in the penalty area, and Georgino Wijnaldum was on hand to nod the ball closely and make the score 7-3 overall.
Surely it was a job done and Liverpool could enjoy a quiet last 65 minutes?
As a matter of fact, the next 20 minutes at least went according to plan. El Shaarawy set off alarm bells that deflected a shot that shook the ladder, and the Italian wing then exaggerated in the penalty area, but the referee had none of that.
The Reds came forward at halftime, 45 minutes after the famous Champions League final.
This Roma country did not give up easily and the evening of Liverpool was far from over. I Giallorossi caused a huge early fear when Dzeko went around Carius and the goalkeeper clumsily took him down for a penalty.
Liverpool were saved by the flag of the assistant, who thought that the Bosnian was offside in the accumulation of the foul. Contradictory and happy escape, so take that warning shot and wake up, boys.
Or let him score three minutes later. El Shaarawy forced a save from Carius, but he only managed to score the ball in the way of Dzeko, who did the rest. 52 minutes have passed and the game continues?
Klopp’s men were under pressure and very much represented an unsupported gladiator surrounded by a pack of lions in the Colosseum, with a hungry, bloodthirsty crowd. Cengiz Under forced Carius to achieve a superb reaction, saved at close range by the watch brand, and two minutes later Trent Alexander-Arnold had to fill his own heroic door * ahem *.
El Shaarawy’s close shot was very goal-bound, but the right-back inadvertently blocked the ball with his right hand and sent it over the crossbar. This somehow went unnoticed by the players and officials on the field, but he would not be so lucky in a modern VAR world.
Firmino nearly killed Roma for the third time that night, but Alisson did the job. No wonder they paid a lot of money to sign it next summer. The Reds stopped the flow of I Giallorossi’s relentless attacks for much of the second half, and as the last five minutes approached, the game seemed to be won.
However, Liverpool did not take part in the devastating right thigh of Raja Nanggolan. The midfielder fired an unstoppable bullet into the bottom corner from 25 yards in 85 minutes, then brought a controversial penalty to add a bit of drama in the final seconds.
It would never be enough for the hosts, and Liverpool advanced from the bunker night in Rome with a 4-2 defeat, but a total of 7-6 victory. It was an amazing football night and a red one around the world still has to be enjoyed.
Unfortunately, the players failed to fulfill their fate this year, losing 3: 1 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final. Once Alison is behind them next season, however, their time will finally come.