Liverpool defy all “tactical or logical” explanation in famous European comeback

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Jurgen Klopp’s first European campaign as the manager is fondly remembered for a stunning comeback, one which epitomised all that is Liverpool in European competitions.

It’s April 14, 2016, and Anfield is poised for the second leg of the Reds’ Europa League quarter-final tie with Borussia Dortmund, safe in the knowledge that an away goal was secured last time out.

Divock Origi’s opener, which would be pegged back by Mats Hummels, at the Westfalenstadion positioned Liverpool into a finely poised but welcome situation heading back to Anfield.

Fans lined Anfield Road as they welcomed the team to the ground with red smoke and flags, a scene which preceded both Liverpool and Dortmund fans intermingling and sharing tales and stories over a number of beers.

The atmosphere was a friendly one laced with competitiveness, with Jurgen Klopp a shared dominator – where his face was plastered on one too many half and half scarves.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 14, 2016: Liverpool supporters welcome the Liverpool team coach to Anfield before the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match against Borussia Dortmund. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The away fans were in the lower Anfield Road in their numbers, flags proudly on display with a wall of noise to accompany it long before kickoff.

The scene was set as darkness descended and the Anfield lights took over, with a spine-tingling rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone reverberating around all four corners of the ground.

The cauldron that was Anfield was primed, waiting on instruction from Klopp who was decked from head to toe in white, acting as a beacon on what would prove to be one of the greatest European nights at Anfield.

It did not start out that way, however. The German side, led by Thomas Tuchel, sliced through Liverpool with ease and left players and fans alike in bewilderment when the scoreline ticked over to 2-0 with less than nine minutes on the clock.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had wiped out Liverpool’s away goal advantage in a matter of minutes and the ease in which they did so left many fearing the worst.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 14, 2016: Borussia Dortmund's Henrik Mkhitaryan celebrates scoring the first goal against Liverpool during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Yet, despite a costly wobble in the opening exchanges the Reds would go on to dominate much of the opening term, showing flashes of brilliance of their own but failing to see it reflected on the scoreboard.

At half-time, even just six months into his reign Klopp believed in his side’s powers of recovery with James Milner having revealed some of his words during half time.

“[Klopp] said we are not playing too badly. It is a long way back but we have nothing to lose,” Milner said.

“We have lost the first half, but you have nothing to lose, go out and do it. 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.”

And with a greeting of You’ll Never Walk Alone at the start of the second half, everything perfectly fell into place as Anfield and the players were one on the search for another memorable European night.

Emre Can’s threaded pass to Divock Origi merely minutes after the interval breathed new belief into the side, one which failed to be deterred even after Marco Reus then restored Dortmund’s two-goal buffer.

German fans in the home end could not hide their excitement as easily as they had in the first half, but that was the last source of their joy as Philippe Coutinho’s effort from outside the box ensured the task remained the same: score another two goals.

Mamadou Sakho would duly oblige for the first, his second-last goal for the club, to send Anfield into delirium as over 13 minutes remained to score the winner.

Klopp was prowling the touchline, the noise in the stands was deafening and Dortmund were crumbling – leaving Tuchel to later say he had no “tactical or logical” reason for the Reds’ comeback.

Time would agonisingly tick by as the search for the fourth goal continued. The fourth official had only just signalled for an extra four minutes when Liverpool were awarded a free-kick just inside their own half.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 14, 2016: Liverpool players celebrate the incredible 4-3 (5-4 aggregate) victory over Borussia Dortmund during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match at Anfield. Dejan Lovren, Adam Lallana, Philippe Coutinho Correia, Lucas Leiva, Nathaniel Clyne, Alberto Moreno, Mamadou Sakho. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A one-two between Milner and Daniel Sturridge ensued and the rest is history as Dejan Lovren rose the highest: “Ohhhh he’s done it. Liverpool have come back from the dead!”

Bedlam ensued. Scarves were aloft, fans were equally in shock as they were emotional and as the final whistle blew the third round of You’ll Never Walk Alone reverberated around the ground.

The players were given the sendoff they deserved on a night which epitomised all that Klopp was striving to achieve.

A piece of silverware was not to be to commemorate the magical comeback, but it will forever go down in history with the clashes against Saint-Etienne, Olympiakos, Chelsea and Barcelona.

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