- Chris Sobey
Liverpool’s dream Europa League run continued last night with a spell-binding come from behind win at Anfield against tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund. The first leg ended 1-1 and with the tie in the balance tonight’s encounter was always going to be a fascinating one given both team’s impressive European history.
The visitors were the first to make their intentions clear and they did it in emphatic fashion taking a shock 2-0 lead within ten minutes. Mkhitaryan opened the scoring after only five minutes and four minutes later Aubameyang doubled Dortmund’s lead, which left the Liverpool players and Anfield faithful shell-shocked.
Liverpool’s task looked almost insurmountable considering they needed to score at least 3 goals while thwarting Dortmund’s intense attacking threat, but they managed to do the latter by holding on admirably until half-time with the score at 0-2 still. Jurgen Klopp will have been dying to get his team in to the dressing room at half time and he clearly drummed in to his players that the tie was far from over as the Reds performance in the second half evoked memories of the Reds famous comeback from 3-0 down at half time against AC Milan in the 2004/2005 Champions League final.
Roared on by the Anfield faithful Liverpool reduced the deficit to one goal when Divock Origi scored his fourth goal in his last three games three minutes after the start. However, Liverpool’s celebrations were short lived when Marcus Rues restored the visitors 2 goal lead ten minutes later. The Liverpool players could have easily let their head’s drop after this further set-back, but this group of players under the leadership of Klopp are made of sterner stuff and they were in no mood to let this tie end without a fight.
Ten minutes later Liverpool reduced the deficit to one goal again when Milner and Coutinho exchanged a swift one-two on the edge of the Dortmund area, Coutinho continued his run and slotted home a sublime finish past Weidenfeller for his fourth goal in his last five games. Liverpool had the momentum now and with a deafening Anfield cheering them on they were level ten minutes later, this time thanks to defender Sakho who was on hand too expertly head home Milner’s 68th minute corner.
Dortmund were still set to go through on the away goals rule and as the tie headed in to injury time it looked like Liverpool’s heroic comeback may end in desperate disappointment. However, Liverpool are famous for scoring last gasp winners in epic matches like this and they did it again thanks to James Milner who picked up Daniel Sturridge clever pass in the area. Milner surged to the bye-line and his cross found unlikely hero Lovren free at the back post and he made no mistake firing his header past Weidenfeller for an historic 4-3 win on the night and 5-4 on aggregate.
Villareal and Shakhtar Donetsk also made light work of progressing to the semi-finals last night. Villareal were 3-0 up by half time at Sparta Prague thanks to strikes from Bakambu after only five minutes , Castillejo two minutes before half time and Bruno got the third in first half injury-time. Bakambu made it 4-0 four minutes after half-time and while Sparta notched two consolation goals it wasn’t enough to spark a Liverpool style comeback and Villareal progressed 6-3 on aggregate.
Shakthar went 2-0 up by half-time at home to Braga, thanks to goals from Srna after 25 minutes and Ferreira just before half time. The scored a further two goals in the second half to make it 4-0 on the night and progressed comfortably 6-1 on aggregate. The other Europa League quarter-final second leg clash was an all-Spanish affair between Sevilla and Atletico Bilbao, which ended 3-3 after normal time. Neither side could find the winner in extra-time and it was Sevilla who emerged victorious from a tense penalty shoot-out to book their place in the semi-finals.