News: Champions League: Liverpool Ousts Roma in Loss That Doubles as a Triumph
ROME — Slowly, reluctantly, their voices hoarse and their shoulders slumped, A.S. Roma’s fans started to lift themselves from their seats and head toward the Stadio Olimpico exits, ready to make the long, sorrowful journey back into town.
Only a minute remained of the second leg of this Champions League semifinal, sixty more seconds after three frantic, chaotic, lunatic hours of soccer over two games. Liverpool still, somehow, led by 7-5 on aggregate. Roma needed to score twice more simply to force extra time.
At last, Roma’s fans resigned themselves to the inevitable. It was over. It would be Liverpool in the Champions League final for the first time in 11 years, against Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26. Roma’s time had run out.
Then Cengiz Under, a Roma substitute still fizzing with energy, burst into Liverpool’s box once more. The ball careered into the hand of Liverpool defender Ragnar Klavan. Damir Skomina, the referee, awarded a penalty. The drift stopped, and watched. Radja Nainggolan scored. There was a glimmer: One goal would do it now. On the field, Roma’s players pleaded with Skomina to add on more time, not to cut them short. In the stands, they roared.(cheap soccer cleats)
That moment, more than any other, summed up a semifinal that veered between mesmerizing and madcap, that even Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool’s manager, called “crazy.”
This was a semifinal, after all, that was over after little more than an hour of the first leg: when Liverpool was flying, 5-0 up, sweeping into the final, an unstoppable force. And yet, somehow, it was also a contest that, with just a few seconds remaining before Skomina finally blew his whistle and confirmed Liverpool’s return to the grandest game in club soccer, hung entirely in the balance.
That says something about Roma, of course: how Eusebio Di Francesco’s team managed to salvage something from the ruins of Anfield last week, scrambling two late goals to restore some pride and ignite some hope; about how it fulfilled his demand to “send a message” with its performance in the second leg; about how it refused to yield when Sadio Mané put Liverpool ahead in the first 10 minutes here, and then again when Georginio Wijnaldum made it 2-1 25 minutes in(nike mercurial soccer cleats).
This is a team that deserved the rapturous ovation it was awarded by its fans at the end, a team that produced a miracle to qualify for the semifinal against Barcelona and always believed, deep down, that it was capable of repeating the trick. It was a team that earned Klopp’s sincere admiration for its courage, one that first drew level and then, when all seemed lost, rallied again, and brought Liverpool to the brink.
But more pressingly, it says something about Liverpool, too, about its addiction to drama, its compulsion to live life on the edge, its determination to crest and fall with the waves of its own emotion: the strengths that make it such a force at its best and the weaknesses that make it so vulnerable when it is not. This is a team that can win 5-2 and feel like it has been beaten, and a team that can lose 4-2 and feel like it has triumphed, all in the space of eight days.
For all the relief in Klopp and his players at the final whistle, though, the scale of what Liverpool has achieved this season should not be underestimated(all black nike soccer cleats).
True, it rode its luck here, granting Roma a raft of chances, relying on some flustered finishing and some generous refereeing — Roma should have had “two penalties,” said its president, James Pallotta; Monchi, its sporting director, pointed out that the final, if video refereeing was available in the Champions League, would be Roma against Bayern Munich.
True, Liverpool’s run to Kiev has been slightly kinder than Real’s: The reigning champion has taken on Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich, the champions of France, Italy and Germany, while Liverpool has faced F.C. Porto and Roma. Only Manchester City, of the teams Liverpool has overcome, would be regarded as part of Europe’s top rank(women's indoor soccer shoes).
And, true, it has won nothing yet. As Klopp pointed out afterward, he has already reached two finals with Liverpool: the League Cup and the Europa League in his first, partial season in 2016. He lost them both. “Nobody has thanked me for taking Liverpool to those finals,” he said. “They do not hang silver medals at Melwood,” Liverpool’s training facility.
But simply breathing the same air as Real, that relentless winner of this competition, is an achievement worth celebrating. Liverpool did not even make the Champions League automatically; it had to endure a qualifier with Hoffenheim. This campaign is only its second in the Champions League since 2009; it has spent much of the intervening period trying to keep pace with the Premier League’s elite; Europe’s seemed beyond reach(soccer cleats store near me).
The matter of what it has done is impressive, but the style in which it has done it is even more so. It has scored, in total, 130 goals this season — eye-catching enough before two early eliminations in England’s domestic cups are factored in: Liverpool has only played 56 games. No team has ever scored more goals in a Champions League campaign than Liverpool.
No strike force has registered more than Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Mane: not Barcelona’s Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez, not Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale.
That all of those records have been set by a team that did not have a single senior midfielder among its substitutes last night, that had an academy graduate at right-back, that deployed a left back who was playing in Scotland’s lower leagues four years ago, and that had to bring on Klavan — a seasoned pro, but hardly a world-beater — to see out the game is remarkable. “These boys are constantly over their limit,” Klopp said. That is testament to the work he has done, as much as the insatiability of his players.
No wonder, then, that at the end, as Roma’s fans boomed out their club anthem in pride, Liverpool’s fans twirled their scarves in sheer, disbelieving delight; no wonder that Klopp reappeared, 40 minutes after the final whistle, to celebrate again with the fans. The game itself needed some time to sink in; what Klopp and his players have done this season in Europe will require even longer.
This season might still end without a trophy, of course. Defend like this against Real Madrid and it will most certainly be Real claiming a 13th European Cup in Kiev, not Liverpool lifting its sixth. But that is the thing with Liverpool, this Liverpool: Even Real, those wily old campaigners, will not be entirely sure of what they will have to face — the team lucky to get away with a 4-2 loss, or the team that has burned through Europe all year. For the rest of us, only one thing is certain: it will be worth staying until the end to find out(adidas indoor soccer shoes).