The biggest night Anfield had seen in a decade lived up to the hype. The first leg of the Champions League semifinal saw Liverpool welcome Roma to English shores, again scorching the skies red with flares, and unfortunately once again having the lead up marred with violence.
Roma fans have just attacked Liverpool supporters with belts, outside the Albert. About 20. One guy down getting treatment— Jonathan Northcroft (@JNorthcroft) April 24, 2018
Mohamed Salah swaggered like an Egyptian, Bobby dazzled and Dejan pulled a Lovren, as a pulsating affair that ended with a 5-2 scoreline that actually flattered the over-matched visitors.
The raucous Kop, sent into a mania by unanswered braces from Salah and Firmino as well as a redemptive goal from Sadio Mané (who had missed a hat trick of golden chances), ultimately suffered a dampening to their euphoria, as the Romans managed to pull two away goals back inside the final 10 minutes through Edin Džeko and Diego Perotti.
Captain Jordan Henderson lamented his side’s inability to make next week’s return leg moot:
”We were disappointed with the two goals we conceded,” the skipper said following the match. “We felt we were in control. We gave them two goals and you can’t really do that in the Champions League.
”I felt we were still in control but didn’t play football as much in the last 20 minutes, but we still had chances to score. We gave them the [Edin] Džeko goal and that brought a few nerves, I don’t really know why.
”Overall we have got to stay positive,” Henderson concluded. “We knew it would not be easy tonight, we know it will not be easy [in the away return leg].”
While the three-goal advantage going into next Tuesday’s clash at the Stadio Olimpico is certainly a strong position to be in for the surging Reds, top of mind will be the miracle that saw the Romans overturn the same margin against one of the greatest teams in the world in Barcelona just a few short weeks ago.
”You’ve got to be professional, keep focus right to end,” ex-Red Steven Gerrard commented on BT Sport 2 after the game. “Liverpool have come down the gears towards the end and paid for it, given Roma a glimmer of hope.”