Liverpool reach last eight
Sadio Mané was the hero for Liverpool as they overcame Bayern Munich 3-1 at the Allianz Arena to go through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the second consecutive year.
After a goalless first leg at Anfield, there was little to choose between the teams, and in wet conditions both sets of players struggled to retain possession and create chances. However, Liverpool were marginally more effective going forward and they scored a vital away goal on 26 minutes. A long pass from defender Virgil van Dijk was pulled down expertly by Mané, who then scored into an empty net.
That goal was vital for the visitors as it meant that the home side needed to score at least twice to win the tie. However, when Joël Matip gifted Bayern an equaliser, turning the ball into his own net on 39 minutes, Liverpool must have expected an onslaught from the German side.
The threat didn’t materialise though, and Van Dijk gave the visitors a decisive edge on 69 minutes when he scored from a James Milner corner, before Mané completed the victory, heading into the net six minutes from the end to record his tenth goal in his last ten games.
The only disappointing aspect of the night’s performance for Liverpool was the yellow card that full-back Andrew Robertson earned in injury time, which means that he won’t be available for the first leg of their quarter-final tie. Otherwise, it was another enjoyable European night for Liverpool supporters. Their team are one of four English sides in the quarter-finals – the first time since 2009 that English football has been so heavily represented in the last eight. Liverpool are regarded as fourth favourites, according to sports betting companies, behind Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona.
However, while the visitors celebrated their success, it was another disappointing night for Bayern. The reigning Bundesliga champions are involved in a tough scrap with Borussia Dortmund to retain their domestic title, and now the hope of progressing in Europe has been snuffed out. Their starting team was full of experience, including six players the wrong side of 30, but they appeared sluggish throughout and created little going forwards.
Former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry showed flashes of creativity, but Franck Ribéry, James Rodríguez and Robert Lewandowski offered little for the home fans. Meanwhile, Liverpool will be looking forward to Friday’s quarter-final draw.
Words: Jonah Farrell