Liverpool, who last reached the final in 2007, put one foot into the Champions League final with a 5-2 win over AS Roma in their semi-final, first leg at Anfield.
The PFA’s Player of the Year, Mohamed Salah, who has now scored 43 goals since his summer move from Roma, scored twice and assisted two other goals. He curled his first into the top corner from the edge of the box giving Roma keeper Alisson no chance on 36 minutes.
The Egyptian then punished his former club and doubled Liverpool’s lead on the stroke of half-time, finishing off the simplest of counter-attacks. With this goal, Salah has now netted 43 goals in all competitions this season, only Ian Rush in 1983-1984 has scored more in a single campaign for Liverpool, 47 goals.
Roma’s defensive line was proving disastrous, too high even when they weren’t getting close enough to pressure their hosts. On 56 minutes, Mohamed Salah then ran down the right and squared for Sadio Mane to make it 3-0. Six minutes later, he’s doing the same to set up Roberto Firmino.
Firmino didn’t have long to wait for his second, rising unmarked to nod a James Milner corner into the net to put Jurgen Klopp’s side 5-0 up on 69 minutes.
Liverpool are only the second side in Champions League history to score five goals in a semi-final match, also Ajax in 1995, 5-2 against Bayern Munich. Liverpool are also the first side in Champions League history to have three players score eight or more goals in a single season in the competition. Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino each with 10 goals while Sadio Mane with 8 goals.
Minutes after Firmino’s second goal, Danny Ings came off from the bench to replace Salah and Liverpool dropped a gear, and allowed Roma a sniff of a chance ahead of next week’s second leg.
A goal from Edin Dzeko on 81 minutes after Lovren lost track of former Manchester City striker, and the Bosnian made no mistake, controlling expertly before beating Karius at his near post. Three minutes later, Diego Perotti gave the visitors a slim chance of turning the tie round in second leg’s return game in the Italian capital after the ball struck James Milner’s arm in the penalty area.
This game produced the joint most goals of any Champions League semi-final match.
(Photo source: Standard.co.uk)