An exciting night last Thursday in the Westfalenstadion saw both Liverpool FC and Borussia Dortmund battle it out to take some sort of advantage forward to the second leg at Anfield. The follow-up had to be something special, a game that could match, or even better that of the first leg. Well, what was about to unfold certainly lived up to the expectation, but we’ll get on to that soon enough…

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Dortmund fans soon made their presence known in Liverpool

The day began as a carbon copy to the previous week in Germany, the travelling yellow wall of Dortmund had flew into the city, painting the town yellow. Flags were hung outside bars, scarves were wrapped around bronze statues of The Beatles, German ales were consumed and songs were sang across the centre of town. Matthew Street in particular was alive with the anticipation of the big match; videos soon emerged online of both Liverpool and Dortmund fans practicing their singing voices ahead of the game, as You’ll Never Walk Alone was passionately heard outside of the city pubs and as the players arrived at the stadium the streets were lined with fans, flares and flags. As the day turned to night and the floodlights were switched on at Anfield, the stadium filled up almost an hour before kick off. The players were treated to a snapshot of the atmosphere as they warmed up for what was inevitably going to be an emotional evening on the eve of the anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.

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Liverpool and Dortmund fans paid respect to those that lost their lives Hillsborough disaster before the match kicked off

The players walked out the tunnel to what has to be one of the greatest You’ll Never Walk Alone renditions in history. Next came the fitting tribute to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy of ’89, a mosaic was seen in both the Kop and the away end as the stadium fell silent to reflect and remember. The stage was now set, the players were ready and it was time to resolve who was going to be moving forward into the Europa League semi-finals.

Play began and, as expected, Dortmund were set up in an all out attacking approach. Liverpool just had to stop Dortmund scoring and qualification was theirs. With the quality and, more importantly, speed of Dortmund’s front three; Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan, this was going to be no mean feat. Liverpool looked to still be soaking up the atmosphere as the deadly trio came at the red defence in a lightning-quick counter attack, and even though Mignolet managed to make a great save from Aubameyang’s initial strike, it was the Armenian captain Mkhitaryan who followed up on the rebound and put Dortmund ahead, making Liverpool’s away goal advantage irrelevant just five minutes in. Anfield was stunned.
Right then, just calm yourselves down now, get back into the game”, thought all those involved with the Reds. But just four minutes later BVB’s top goalscorer, and one of the fastest players in the game; Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, doubled the lead. Marco Reus skipped past four players in the centre of the field before playing an inch-perfect pass forward to the African Player of the Year who put his foot through the ball into the roof of the net, right in front of the Kop. A dream start for Dortmund, a nightmare for Liverpool; just ten minutes into the game and the men in red now needed to outscore their opposition (who hadn’t lost in 18 games).
It took these two goals from Dortmund for Liverpool to really come into the game as they created a number of chances during the rest of the first half, although none on target, it seemed that the hope and belief had not been lost. Unfortunately for the home team the score remained the same as the half time whistle blew and Liverpool had just 45 minutes left to score three goals in front of the Kop, not impossible, but certainly improbable. Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp, sprinted down the tunnel to give, what needed to be, a truly inspirational half-time team talk.
The second half got underway with Liverpool starting from where they left off, pushing the fullbacks high up the pitch opening themselves up defensively but in an all out attacking effort to claim back the goals needed to take them into the next round of the competition. The risk paid off as Emre Can placed a pass to the in-form Divock Origi who drilled a low shot past Weidenfeller and into the back of the net. Anfield erupted. Origi ran straight to the back of the net and picked the ball up with intent, as the same was needed again, and again, to see them through.
What happened next was not in the script. Just before the hour mark Marco Reus was put through on goal and with all the class expected from a player like him, coolly slotted away to give Dortmund back their two-goal lead, with just half an hour left on the clock the task for Liverpool became more difficult than ever.
Brazilian, Coutinho, brought one goal back for Liverpool in the 66th minute to bring the scores to 2-3

Brazilian, Coutinho scored Liverpool’s second goal in the 66th minute

Despite how clinical Dortmund had been in front of goal, the Liverpool players still played with belief. It must have been some team-talk from the boss at half time as they continued to create chance after chance and eventually the ball fell to Philippe Coutinho, who had somewhat gone missing in the first half, but was now causing a lot more problems in the second. A great solo effort from outside the box; the little magician struck one low and hard into the bottom right hand corner. Two more to go, just two more to go.

The attacking play continued and shortly after Emre Can had been taken to the sidelines after what looked like a nasty ankle injury, sloppy set-piece defending from Dortmund allowed Sakho to put away a header directly from the corner. Now all that was needed was one final goal, oh, and the small matter of not conceding of course. Still, just one more to go, one more goal.
The final push was on and Liverpool won a free kick in the opposition’s half in the 91st minute; cue ‘box overload’. James Milner played a cheeky through ball to Daniel Sturridge who looked to have lost control of the ball under his feet before managing to place a nutmegged pass back to Milner. Milner sent a looping cross to the back post where an unlikely hero, Dejan Lovren, was waiting to poke it past Weidenfeller. Well what can you say next..? Anfield went into meltdown. One of the greatest comebacks in recent history may well have just been achieved. The seemingly impossible task of scoring three goals in half an hour had been accomplished as Jurgen Klopp celebrated emphatically whilst Dortmund boss Tuchel physically crumbled. What scenes.
Lovren scored in the 91st minute to give Liverpool a 4-3 lead (5-4 on aggregate)

Lovren scored in the 91st minute to give Liverpool a 4-3 lead (5-4 on aggregate)

The whistle finally blew as the Anfield faithful roared. This was a night for the history books. Two magnificent teams showing the viewers why we love the beautiful game, a true showcase of attacking football, pure ambition and a never-say-die attitude. As the players and coaching staff circled the ground in celebration, Divock Origi was interviewed for BT Sport where he revealed what we were desperate to know; what did Jurgen say at the break?
The coach said that we need to create a moment that we can tell our grandchildren” Origi explained. It was later also revealed by James Milner in the post-match press conference that “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 that they certainly did.
Liverpool thank their fans for the support at the end of the game

Liverpool thank their fans for the support at the end of the game

So the Reds march on in their quest for European glory, after beating the hot favourites they will now feel they can beat anyone. And who did they draw for the semi-finals? Hopefully a team that can give us writers some sort of petty link back to Liverpool…