It's time for Portland to rebuild
Hello darkness my old friend...
Liverpool produced a highly impressive 2-1 victory at the Etihad stadium to dump Manchester City out of the competition and seal themselves a place in the Champions league semi-finals. It was a tale of two halves in which the hosts utterly dominated in the first, with Gabriel Jesus opening the scoring almost instantaneously.
City placed Liverpool under constant siege and the Reds were extremely fortunate Leroy Sane's effort of a rebound was flagged offside. The home side were first to every ball and were dominating possession with Liverpool seemingly on the ropes. How the away side managed to get to half-time only 1-0 down, I'll never know.
However the law of averages prevailed and Liverpool came out in the second half with a much improved display. Mohamed Salah (per usual) bagged the all-important away goal following up from Sadio Mané, whilst Roberto Firmino put the result beyond doubt with a pinpoint finish. The result sees Liverpool seeing off City 5-1 on aggregate, an impressive scoreline that nobody would have predicted prior to the tie.
Here are five observations from Liverpool's second leg win:
The first half of this game featured an all too familiar theme for Liverpool fans. Desperate defending, a goal conceded off a mistake and utter domination by the opposing side. Past Liverpool sides have often crumbled in such conditions and supporters feared this would be no different.
The Reds fought against the narrative though and recovered brilliantly in the second half. The goals from Mo Salah and Firmino silencing the Etihad stadium as the Reds managed to turn the game on its head.
The side as a whole withstood the early pressure and not let their nerves get the better of them, a promising sign of progress for Jürgen Klopp's men in comparison to seasons past.
With Jordan Henderson suspended and Emre Can out for the remainder of the season, Jürgen Klopp once again entrusted the holding midfield role Georginio Wijnaldum following a decent game playing the position in last Saturday's goalless draw against Everton.
In typical Wijnaldum fashion, the Dutchman was the definition of hot and cold throughout the game, being absolutely outplayed in the first half as City dominated nearly all aspects of the game whilst playing a critical role in the second half as Liverpool fought back to win.
While it remains to be seen if Wijnaldum can consistently perform in the role but his recent displays are clearly something to take note. Liverpool may have another decent option at the position, something desperately needed in their rather injury-ravaged squad.
While Salah and Firmino will deservedly get the plaudits for Liverpool's result, Dejan Lovren proved just as crucial to the side in securing their place in the Champions league semi final.
The Croatian has his share of detractors no doubt but his performance in the first leg was exceptional and tonight was no different. He won virtually everything he had to deal with aerially, looked calm in possession and worked well with Virgil Van Dijk in organizing the side to withstand City's early barrage.
Barring his display against Manchester United last month, Lovren has massively improved since the arrival of Van Dijk. While he may not be the long-term solution for Liverpool at centre-back, with performances like these, Lovren may just stake a claim for a starting role in the side next season regardless of who the club potentially bring in.
It has probably gone unnoticed so let me just point this out. Since being thrust into a midfield starting role, James Milner has been absolutely sensational.
He may not be the flashiest player nor the most recognized, but the Liverpool vice-captain provides all the intangibles a successful footballing side require. His leadership and experience proved all the bit important to the Reds in both legs and he personally would feel ecstatic the knock out his former side.
Whilst always seen as a utility player for Liverpool, Milner has the most assists in the Champions league this season with eight. A remarkable return for the former England man, who's value in the side should never again be questioned.
If there was any doubt about the progress Liverpool have made under Jürgen Klopp this result proves why such skepticism is unwarranted.
The Reds managed to reach the semi finals of Europe's most prestigious competition in Klopp's third season in charge with this year more notably being their first appearance in the tournament under the German. A remarkable feat.
Liverpool have reached the point in which only Europe's elite remain. However this performance against the future champions of England will give them belief that on their day, they can beat the best. Europe beware.