Liverpool vice-captain James Milner believes their dramatic victory over Borussia Dortmund could prove to be a watershed moment in the reign of Jurgen Klopp.
The Reds twice came back from two goals down against the Europa League favourites to win 4-3 on the night, 5-4 on aggregate, with Dejan Lovren‘s added-time goal putting them into the semi-finals.
The most significant change Klopp has made to the squad he inherited from Brendan Rodgers in mid-October – having eschewed the chance to strengthen in the January transfer window – is the belief he has instilled.
That got them over the line against his former club on a famous night at Anfield and Milner thinks overcoming that considerable hurdle and being just three matches away from winning a trophy, having lost February’s Capital One Cup final to his previous side Manchester City on penalties, is significant.
“It will do a lot. I have said at times this year that I don’t think there is that belief there that the boys believe how good they are,” he said.
“It is a young team and sometimes we struggle for consistency but to beat a team like Dortmund and to come back the way we did and going this far in a major European competition is obviously massive.
“We got to the League Cup final and while we didn’t win we put ourselves in position again. “Hopefully we can get belief from this. if we can beat them we can beat anyone and hopefully we can now go on to win some silverware.
“It was the same when I was at City and we managed to win that first piece of silverware.”
Klopp has a reputation for being a master motivator and he was at his best during the half-time interval.
Trailing 2-0 and with a mountain to climb the German evoked memories of Liverpool’s past by recalling the 2005 Champions League final when they overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit against AC Milan to win a fifth European Cup on penalties.
Milner said: “The manager was brilliant. He was calm. He said, ‘We are not playing too badly. It is a long way back, we have lost the first half but you have nothing to lose, go out and do it’.
“It would have been easy for him to come in effing and blinding but he didn’t.
“He reminded us of a situation where the club has come through a similar situation before.
“He obviously mentioned a certain night in Istanbul and said there have been other great nights in this club’s history from a similar position so go out and see what happens.
“I think it was the perfect atmosphere created at half-time to be honest.”
When the players emerged early for the second half they were greeted with a chorus of You’ll Never Walk Alone from the Kop, and as the tide finally began to turn their way in the closing 25 minutes the ground almost shook to the crowd’s roar.
“The way the fans were when we were driving into the game they deserve that victory,” Milner added.
“The atmosphere especially in the second half when we got the second goal and drove forward means it is difficult for any team to come here.
“When the crowd are like that there are not too many better places in the world to be playing and to be part of a night like that is fantastic.”
With a Champions League place on offer for the winners there is the temptation to put all their focus onto Europe – Liverpool are currently eighth, nine points behind fourth-placed City with a match in hand – but Milner dismissed that.
“We will try to win every game. It is important to try to finish strongly in the league,” he said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Bournemouth.
“The performance was good at the weekend against Stoke (a 4-1 win) and I think that contributed massively to the Dortmund result and gave us the momentum to keep winning games.”