Liverpool withstands Manchester City charge, advances to Champions League semis

Roberto Firmino celebrates his goal that all but sealed Liverpool’s aggregate victory over Manchester City in the Champions League. (Getty)

Manchester City did darn near everything it could to complete a Champions League comeback for the ages on Tuesday. It piled pressure on Liverpool throughout a tense, one-sided first half. It got its early goal, and should have had a second before halftime.

But with one deft sweep of his left foot in the second half, and one delightfully delicate chip over Ederson, Mohamed Salah broke City hearts. He ended dreams of the comeback. And he sent Liverpool through to the Champions League semifinals.

Robert Firmino drove home a dagger in the 77th minute, and Liverpool, remarkably, took down the soon-to-be Premier League champions, 5-1 on aggregate.

Pep Guardiola had turned to an uber-attacking 3-1-3-3 formation, and in the first half, unlike the first leg, City was in complete control. Liverpool couldn’t escape its own half. Gabriel Jesus had put the hosts ahead in the second minute, and they kept coming.

Liverpool’s backline, anchored by Virgil van Dijk, withstood pressure well. But late in the half, City should have climbed back to within one goal on aggregate.

First, Bernardo Silva hit the post. Minutes later, Leroy Sane had the ball in the back of the net, but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside:

Sane was in an offside position when the ball came back toward the goal, but it had come back off Liverpool’s James Milner. Guardiola was sent off at halftime for arguing the call with the referee.

Liverpool stabilized in the second half. Salah’s goal sucked the life out of the Etihad. Firmino then sealed the deal.

And in celebration, he waved goodbye to the City crowd, and to City’s season. He extended Liverpool’s, to within two victories of a European crown.

The City comeback, in the end, was not to be. Instead, the Champions League stunner for the day came elsewhere.

– – – – – – –

Henry Bushnell covers global soccer, and occasionally other ball games, for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell.