Camp Nou: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his side as “mentality giants” after producing one of the most stunning comebacks in Champions League history to beat Barcelona 4-0 and progress to the final for the second consecutive year on Tuesday.
The Reds not only had a mountain to climb on the scoreboard after last week’s 3-0 loss at the Camp Nou, but were deprived of two of their most potent attacking weapons in Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino due to injury.
However, Divock Origi making a rare start and substitute Georginio Wijnaldum both scored twice as Barca surrendered a three-goal first-leg lead to exit the Champions League for the second straight season.
“With any other team I wouldn’t think it was possible. They are really mentality giants,” said Klopp. “It is unbelievable the season we had, the games we had, the injuries we had now.
“Going out there and putting in a performance like this on the pitch is unbelievable. I am really proud to be the manager of this team.
“What they did tonight was really special. I will remember it forever.” Liverpool will face either Ajax or Tottenham in the final on June 1 in Madrid and the Reds’ stunning victory brought back memories of when they last lifted the trophy in 2005 after overturning a 3-0 half-time deficit in the final against AC Milan in Istanbul.
However, Klopp underlined the importance of his side writing their own history even if their bid for a first Premier League title for 29 years falls short behind Manchester City this weekend.
“We believed in this chance, we didn’t compare it with Istanbul or whatever,” added Klopp.
“We want to create our own history. We need new chapters obviously and the boys did it.”
Despite the despondency of losing Salah and Firmino, Jurgen Klopp’s men never lost faith and were accompanied by a typically raucous Anfield atmosphere on a European night.
Origi would almost certainly not have started had Salah and Firmino been fit. But the Belgian has made a habit of scoring important goals in Liverpool’s title challenge and had his first ever in the Champions League on seven minutes on the rebound after Marc-Andre ter Stegen had denied Jordan Henderson’s initial effort.
“We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality. You cut off one and it doesn’t work, we know that,” continued Klopp.
“This club has a big heart. The heart was pounding like crazy, you could hear it and feel it all over the world. I am so happy we could give the people this experience.”