Player ratings - Perfect 10 edition: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

Messi-holds-head-in-hands
This is Anfield. The fabled sign, the famous atmosphere, known around the world through decades of historic European nights but last night arguably tops the lot. Having been 3-0 down from the first leg, this really was mission impossible against Messi and co but once again, Liverpool have rewritten the rules on what is possible. Never before has a team overturned a 3-0 first leg deficit in a Champions League semi-final. Let’s see how our history makers got on.

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Alisson (10) - Our goalkeeper was immense last night as he pulled off a string of excellent stops, especially first half. Commanding throughout and dealt with everything Barca threw at him. Maybe it was the change in strip last night but he somehow looked bigger than usual last night as well. Second year running he’s been involved in a famous comeback to dump Barca out the competition. They must be sick of the sight of him.

TAA (10) - Just wow. Twenty years old this kid is and he’s played a massive part in taking his team to two Champions League finals. His assist for Origi’s second was assist of the season for me. He did really well and showed great maturity to win the corner in the first place but to then have the vision and audacity to spot Origi and play the pass really was out of this world. Strong defensively as well for the most part and I was almost in tears watching him walk around the stadium, applauding the fans. You could see what it meant to him and he just wanted to soak it all up and who can blame him? Literally living the dream.

Matip (10) - Sensational display from Matip. Whisper it quietly but Matip is starting to mirror Van Dijk in his performance levels. Absolutely rock solid defensively, some of his tackles were superb and he sprays the ball about like a midfielder. His stock continues to rise as he has added real consistency to his game now. On current form, I wouldn’t swap him with anyone to partner Virgil.

Van Dijk (10) - Another imperious display from our colossal Dutchman. Has developed a brilliant partnership with Matip and they take it in turns to push forward, each with a perfect understanding of each other’s game. Reduced Messi and Suarez to bit part players last night. If we win the thing, he has to be in line for the Balon D’or.

Robertson (10) - Robbo was putting in a superb performance before being tragically kicked out of the game at half time by that cheating rat Suarez. Robbo is lauded for his attacking ability and rightly so but his defending is absolutely top class as well, as he demonstrated last night. Played through the obvious pain barrier to see out the half but even injured, he still ran up and down the pitch and stung Ter Stegen’s palms with a fiercely struck shot - his second of the half. I believe he goes for a scan today so say your prayers that the injury is nothing serious.

Fabinho (10) - Probably Fabinho’s finest performance to date. I was a bit worried about him getting sent off, after picking up an early booking and he seemed to be letting Suarez wind him up. Kept his composure however and went on to put in a fine display. Made a last ditch tackle on Messi that had my heart in my mouth but it was superbly timed and that pretty much summed up his evening as he formed a one man wall in front of our back four.

Henderson (10) - Brilliant effort from Hendo, he led from the front with a real captain’s display as he harried and harassed Barca all night long. Looked to be in trouble after taking a nasty kick to his knee but after some treatment, was able to continue. Looked close to tears at the final whistle, bursting with pride at what his team had just accomplished. Showed some nice passing throughout and made sure the tempo of our game never dropped all night. 

Milner (10) - Huffed and puffed like there was no tomorrow. Covered every blade of grass, snapping into tackles and pressing like a demon and showed the importance of his versatility to this team by slotting in at left back for the stricken Robbo in the second half. In tears at the end of the game, as the magnitude of what had just happened began to sink in.

Shaqiri (10) - Ok, so I admit he wasn’t really a ten on the basis of his entire performance but then it wouldn’t be the perfect 10 edition would it? You usually associate Shaqiri with having a lot of quality on the ball but not doing the defensive side of the game well. In the first half last night, it was the opposite, he was working his little socks off but gave the ball away cheaply multiple times. Much improved second half however and got his reward with an assist.

Origi (10) - Cometh the hour, cometh the man. A player who has at best divided fan opinion and at worst, been an object of ridicule for many, carved his name into Anfield folklore last night, with two goals - the opener after six minutes which started the momentum and the winner as he latched on to Trent’s wonderfully inventive corner and smashed the ball into the top corner with a superb finish. Divock hasn’t half had some memorable moments this season. Worth a new contract?

Mane (10) - Sensational stuff once again from Mane as he tortured Vidal and Roberto on that side, breezing past them at will. Had something of a free role last night and he popped up multiple times in all our forward positions, making him impossible to man mark. Make no mistake, Mane is now one of the world’s best players. The only thing that was ever missing from Mane’s game was consistency but the second half of this season, he’s been relentlessly excellent. Here’s hoping that consistency is now here to stay as he’s unplayable when on song.

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Subs:

Wijnaldum (11) - Ok, so I had to make on exception to the perfect 10 list or I knew Timp would never forgive me. Gini you dirty, filthy rascal! Gini had only been on the pitch for 12 minutes when he scored his second goal in as many minutes, to level the tie. He said after the game that he was angry with Klopp for leaving him out and it showed as he burst into the game, scored two goals and then proceeded to swarm all over Barca’s midfield. So dirty after that game that all the water in the Mersey couldn’t wash him clean.

Gomez (10) - Oh go on then Joe, have a ten.

Sturridge (10) - You too Daniel.

Klopp-watch (10) - Klopp was so blown away by what he’d witnessed that he dropped an F-bomb live on BT Sport and such was the magnitude of the achievement, Gary Lineker refused to apologise for it. Very few managers would have had the ability to lift their team for the game against Newcastle, never mind actually turning this tie around and winning it. It was almost unthinkable but we achieved it. Back to back Champions League finals is some achievement for any manager. Pep Guardiola for example, hasn’t been in a Champions League final for a decade. We have a truly unique and special manager. Long may he reign.

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Summary:

How do I even begin to summarise last night? It was everything I love about Liverpool all rolled into one game. The Anfield roar, the passion, the belief and the never say die spirit, long associated with the club. I said on the match thread that no other club could have pulled that off and I stand by that. We’re famed for our comebacks over the years but even by our lofty standards, last night was special.

Let’s get it straight, we didn’t just beat Barca last night, we absolutely destroyed them. Most were in agreement that we didn’t deserve to be 3-0 down after the first leg - a game where we had more possession and completed more passes than Barca. God knows the last time that happened at the Nou Camp. Poor finishing from us and the clinical nature of their finishing did for us in the first leg but they simply had no answer for what happened at Anfield last night, as we blew them away with a blend of intensity, pace, power and desire.

Last night, those boys wrote their own chapter in Liverpool’s illustrious history. Regardless of whether we win the competition or not, that game will be spoken about for decades and used as inspiration whenever we’re chasing a perceived lost cause. This club can do it. Milan know it, Dortmund know it and now Barcelona know it. We are Liverpool and we are never beaten.

On to Wolves then for what is now our penultimate game of the season. It will be a difficult game as the boys are bound to be fatigued after their exploits last night, physically and mentally, along with the fact Wolves are probably the ‘best of the rest’ this season but as Klopp has described them, these boys are ‘mentality monsters’ and I expect them to find a way to win on Sunday, as they have all season.

I’ll sign off by saying we witnessed history last night. The kind of night that only Liverpool deliver. There’s been a lot of hurt over the years but every now and again, Liverpool produce something that makes all the pain worth it and we’d do it all over again because simply, this means more. Anyway, I’m off to watch the match again. Walk on troops.
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