Liverpool were rocked by a late rally but left Anfield in emphatic spirits after recording a 5-2 win over Roma in the Champions League semi-finals.
Liverpool 5-2 AS Roma
Champions League Semi-Final First Leg, Anfield
April 24, 2018
Salah 36′ (assist – Firmino)
Salah 45′ (assist – Firmino)
Mane 56′ (assist – Salah)
Firmino 61′ (assist – Salah)
Firmino 69′ (assist – Milner)
Dzeko 81′ (assist – Nainggolan)
Perotti pen 85′ (assist – Nainggolan)
The Reds returned to Anfield for their biggest game of the season so far, as Serie A contenders Roma arrived on Merseyside for the first leg of their last-four tie.
Firmino joined ex-Roma man Mohamed Salah, making his first appearance since being named PFA Player of the Year on Sunday, with the Egyptian’s reunion proving the major talking point in the buildup.
Despite blowing after both Porto and Man City in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively, the pressure was on for Liverpool against a tough Rome outfit.
But in a cauldron of noise at Anfield, the Reds made a mockery of pre-match expectations.
- Klopp makes 5 changes from weekend draw at West Brom
- Oxlade-Chamberlain forced off with worrying knee injury
- Salah stuns Alisson with incredible brace before half-time
- Egyptian King turns provider for Mane and Firmino
- Firmino nets again before Dzeko and Perotti score away goals
With Roma’s 3-4-3 featuring a very high defensive line, Firmino was threaded through for a push to the byline soon after, but the Brazilian’s cutback trickled agonisingly across the face of goal.
Kolarov struck the crossbar with a swerving long-range effort shortly after Karius’ limp save, with the Reds able to turn the tide with a series of promising bursts forward.
Sadio Mane had a golden opportunity after burning Federico Fazio for pace on the break, but the winger was unable to test Alisson, before then hitting it high and wide from inside the box 49 seconds later.
The Senegalese then had the ball in the back of the net on 34 minutes as he stabbed home Andy Robertson‘s cross, but was left frustrated by an offside flag.
Two minutes later, though, Salah showed him how its done, cutting inside from the left and sending a sensational strike past Alisson to put the hosts 1-0 up.
Dejan Lovren hit the woodwork as the Reds kept up the intensity, and again Salah followed it up with a moment of brilliance as he dinked it over the Roma No. 1 to seal a two-goal lead heading into the break.
Little changed for Roma despite the introduction of Patrick Schick, and their dreadful defence allowed Salah through again before the hour mark, with the Egyptian King laying it on for Mane and 3-0.
Salah was provider once again just five minutes later, latching onto Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s flick to surge into the box and play in Firmino for a tap-in from two yards out.
The No. 9 then levelled Salah’s goal tally with a brilliant header from a James Milner corner, as Roma continued to crumble with no answer from Eusebio Di Francesco.
Roma grabbed one back through Edin Dzeko, though, with the away goal a glimmer of hope heading into next week, and Diego Perotti notched another from the penalty spot after a handball from Milner.
This rally adds a little flavour to next Wednesday’s second leg in Italy, but Liverpool are still heavy favourites to make it to Kiev.
TIA Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
* Additional reporting by ISNTV.