CL: Salah ruins Roma, and yet…

CL: Salah ruins Roma, and yet…

Mohamed Salah destroyed his former teammates with two goals and two assists, but Roma got two late away goals to reduce it to a 5-2 defeat.

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Mohamed Salah destroyed his former teammates with two goals and two assists, but Roma got two late away goals to reduce it to a 5-2 defeat.

Follow all the action as it happens and give your views on the LIVEBLOG.

Neither side expected to be in the Champions League semi-final, but Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were still unbeaten in the tournament, beating Manchester City home and away, and the Giallorossi crushed Barcelona 3-0 in the quarter-finals. Emre Can, Adam Lallana and Joel Matip missed out, while Gregoire Defrel was injured and Eusebio Di Francesco brought back the 3-4-2-1 system that proved so effective against Barcelona.

Roberto Firmino flashed an early cross-shot across the face of goal, but there was an early blow for the hosts as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hurt his knee while tackling Aleksandar Kolarov and had to be replaced within 18 minutes.

Moments later, a corner came out to Kolarov, whose missile was going in until Loris Karius palmed it on to the underside of the crossbar.

Juan Jesus was the weak link in the Roma defence and put under pressure, booked for a lunge on Sadio Mane after 26 minutes. Mane went clear on goal on a Firmino through ball, but with only Alisson Becker to beat, he incredibly ballooned over the bar. Less than a minute later, he shinned another off target.

Salah’s angled drive was beaten away by Alisson, as Liverpool suddenly had a flurry of intensity. When Mane did get the ball in the net, he was clearly offside.

The siege eventually paid off, as Salah curled a spectacular left-foot strike into the far top corner, off the underside of the bar, making it impossible for Alisson. The Egyptian refused to celebrate against his former team.

Roma were being torn apart and Dejan Lovren steered a free header on to the crossbar from a corner and Alisson parried a Georginio Wijnaldum attempt at the near post.

Just as the Giallorossi thought they could go into the break and regroup, Salah added a second. He burst through a massive hole in the centre of the defence and dinked it over the on-rushing Alisson.

Di Francesco had to change something and replaced the ineffective Cengiz Under for Patrik Schick. However, Roma were still too stretched out and also unlucky, as Salah was offside in the build-up when he rolled across for Mane to tap in from eight yards.

Salah provided another assist, this one valid, by skipping past Juan Jesus to roll across the face of goal where Firmino was ready to tap in.

Di Francesco eventually removed the struggling Juan Jesus and moved to a 4-3-3 formation, but Maxime Gonalons and Kevin Strootman got confused over the marking and allowed Firmino a free header from a corner for 5-0.

Schick had two opportunities, as first he charged down a poor Lovren clearance and it rebounded wide of the post, then his towering header was palmed off the line by Karius.

Edin Dzeko did get an away goal when chesting down a long Nainggolan ball over the top and beating Karius at the near post.

It seemed to spark them into life and Strootman’s volley from the edge of the box was charged down by James Milner’s arm. Diego Perotti stepped up and converted the cheekiest of dinked penalties in the Francesco Totti style.

Roma continued to swarm, as Liverpool practically stopped playing after Salah was substituted, and Dzeko’s pull-back was turned wide from close range by Perotti, then Nainggolan saw his strike deflected wide, as Liverpool seemed genuinely nervous.

So the semi-final goes into the second leg with Roma again needing a 3-0 victory to go through on away goals, just like in the Barcelona tie.

Liverpool 5-2 Roma

Salah 36, 45 (L), Mane 56 (L), Firmino 61, 68 (L), Dzeko 81 (R), Perotti pen 85 (R)

Liverpool: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain (Wijnaldum 18); Salah (Ings 74), Firmino (Klavan 92), Mane

Roma: Alisson; Manolas, Fazio, Juan Jesus (Perotti 67); Florenzi, De Rossi (Gonalons 67), Strootman, Kolarov; Nainggolan, Under (Schick 46); Dzeko

Ref: Brych (GER)

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