Liverpool beats Borussia Dortmund to reach Europa League semifinals
Dortmund was 2-0 up after nine minutes of Thursday's match
Dejan Lovren's 91st-minute goal gives Liverpool 4-3 win (5-4 on aggregate)
Liverpool produced another remarkable European comeback to reach the Europa League semifinals with a thrilling 4-3 win over Borussia Dortmund that drew parallels with its 2005 Champions League final win.
Eleven years ago, Liverpool were losing 3-0 at half-time to Italian side AC Milan in Istanbul. A barnstorming second-half performance pulled the Merseyside club level, before Liverpool triumphed on penalties.
On Thursday, Jurgen Klopp’s 2016 team rallied after conceding two goals inside the opening 10 minutes to beat German team Dortmund thanks to a 91st-minute header from defender Dejan Lovren.
The two teams drew last week’s first leg in Germany 1-1, meaning Liverpool progressed to the semifinals of Europe’s second-tier club competition 5-4 on aggregate.
The match began disastrously for the English Premier League team. Both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found the back of the net to give Klopp’s former employers Dortmund a start that left Liverpool with a mountain to climb.
The home team created chances but lacked a cutting edge, while Dortmund continued to look dangerous on the counterattack.
Early in the second half, Liverpool gave its supporters a sliver of hope after Divock Origi ran clear to score.
Always dangerous on the break, Dortmund then restored its two-goal advantage when Marco Reus curled the ball past goalkeeper Simon Mignolet after Matts Hummels’ pass unlocked the home side’s defense.
With Liverpool now requiring three goals to win with less than 30 minutes remaining, Klopp threw on substitutes Daniel Sturridge and Joe Allen as he attempted to revive his team’s fading hopes.
It was Brazilian Philippe Coutinho — badly at fault in giving the ball away in the build up to the visitors’ first goal — who made it 2-2 after curling a shot past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller.
With 13 minutes remaining, Liverpool’s made it 3-3 on the night with a goal from the most unlikely of sources — French international defender Mamadou Sakho, who stooped to head home a Sturridge flick.
As the minutes ticked down, with the two-legged tie delicately poised at 4-4, Dortmund looked odds on to go through having scored more away goals over the two matches.
But as the match moved into added time, Dortmund conceded a free-kick. Following a clever interchange between Sturridge and James Milner, the latter dinked the ball over for Lovren to power a header past Weidenfeller and spark scenes of wild celebration.
“We had to show character and they did a little more than that,” Klopp told BT Sport, with the German seemingly struggling to comprehend just how his team had emerged victorious.
“It’s hard to believe, but a wonderful experience. Unbelievable.”
Liverpool will discover its semifinal opponent Friday, with Spanish clubs Villarreal and Sevilla – the Europa League holders – as well as Shakhtar Donetsk also in the draw.
Klopp coached Dortmund between 2008 and 2015, leading the club to two German league titles and the Champions League final in 2013.
The winner of the Europa League will gain entry to the Champions League for the 2016-17 season.
This is the 17th time that Liverpool have reached the semifinal stage of a European competition and Dortmund’s coach was equally bemused at how his side had managed to lose.
“I can’t explain, it was not logical, it was very emotional,” said the Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel.
“If you have such a strong belief then things can happen,” added Tuchel, referring to Liverpool’s ability to rescue the game.
“We had a goal and we have not achieved it. Sport is about winning and we did not make it.
“You have to accept it and be an honorable loser so congratulations to Liverpool. You have to take defeat like a champion.”