Liverpool completes an incredible comeback to beat Dortmund in the Europa League quarters

So, that was something.

It’s tough to put it into words what exactly happened at Anfield for the second leg of Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League Quarterfinal but it was entirely unexpected and something nobody believed would happen.

The game started with an incredible atmosphere that would have been reserved for a Cup final. Before Liverpool and Dortmund walked out, both sets of fans sang “You’ll Never Walk Alone” to a fever pitch. Then right after, all the fans fell silent to honor the 96 killed in the Hillsborough disaster 27 years ago tomorrow.

It would be fair to say Borussia Dortmund was dominating this game. Knowing they needed to score with Liverpool having the 1-1 away goal advantage, Dortmund took advantage and like a cobra awaiting their prey, they saw Philippe Coutinho’s misplaced pass in the 5th minute and struck to put themselves into the lead. Simon Mignolet may have saved Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s shot but Henrik Mkhitaryan got the rebound and made sure Dortmund got the lead.

At this point, Liverpool were quickly behind but there was enough time to get a goal, get the equalizer and go from there. Before they could even finish that thought, Aubameyang scored in the 9th minute to make it 3-1 on aggregate and force Liverpool to have to score three goals to advance.

Going into the halftime break, Liverpool needed three goals to advance. That sounds familiar to 11 years ago as Liverpool defeated AC Milan in the Champions League Final at Istanbul but this was incredibly different. Either way, they found themselves in a familiar situation.

The second half started well for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp’s halftime speech worked because Divock Origi almost immediately scored for Liverpool right at the start of the second half.

But when it looked like Liverpool was taking that step forward for a come back, Dortmund knocked Liverpool back to square one as it was before the half. Marco Reus went behind Nathaniel Clyne and going 1v1 with Mignolet, calmly finished for a 4-2 aggregate lead and put Liverpool three goals behind once again.

But while everyone doubted Liverpool (including myself), they came back and got things started with a great Philippe Coutinho finish in the 66th minute.

Then Coutinho provided the assist in the 78th minute as Mamadou Sakho broke through and headed in his corner for a 4-4 aggregate score. But now Liverpool was on the outside looking in when it came to the away goal rule and Dortmund still had the advantage.

As time ticked down and it seemed like all hope was lost, the Anfield faithful went back to their traditional song that they sang two hours prior and through those fans and some sheer will, Liverpool completed the comeback in the 91st minute. The play almost got botched when Daniel Sturridge tripped over the ball. He was able to correct himself and seek out James Milner. Milner almost messed up the play with a heavy touch but he was able to get a cross off, right before the ball went over the endline. The ball crossed to Dejan Lovren, who jumped higher than I had ever seen him jump, to head in the winning goal and complete the comeback for Liverpool.

Liverpool would win 5-4 on aggregate after needed to score three goals in the second half. It’s not every day where there’s a European Night at Anfield, but this was a throwback to the glory days when those European nights were commonplace.

After the game, the two sides were respectful to each other. These teams share a lot of similarities and surely both wanted to win, but that respect never went away. Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel was stoic in defeat and praised Liverpool.

Even the social media accounts respectfully congratulated each other on the classic game we saw.

Add that both Liverpool and Dortmund fans spent the pregame welcoming the teams and singing together. That, the managers, the players and even the social media departments setting a great example on how two teams are meant to act toward each other. It’s okay to leave it all out on the field for that 90 or 120 minutes and you will want to do anything you can to win, but when it comes to before or after the whistle, there’s no hate and only appreciation and respect between the two teams. Liverpool moves on to the Europa League semifinals and will join Shakhtar Donetsk, Villarreal and Sevilla in the semi draw on Friday.

This is a game that we all will not soon forget. We should’ve known better about the power of a Liverpool comeback. This is Liverpool, the team who came back from 3-0 down in Istanbul in the Champions League Final. This game wasn’t Istanbul and Liverpool’s journey for European silverware isn’t close to done but this was damn close. The power of Klopp and the determination of the players has compensated for their weaknesses and that just may be enough to lift the trophy in May.

About Phillip Bupp

News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing, highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them. Follow me on Twitter @phillipbupp

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