A jubilant Dave Tindall purrs over Liverpool’s “utterly ridiculous, utterly joyous” come-from-behind victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League – and saves a special word for Dejan Lovren.
Football… you magnificent, wonderful, unpredictably glorious beast!
What on earth was that about?
I mean, how did it happen? We’re getting our backsides absolutely handed to us by one of the best teams in Europe and somehow win the game 4-3.
With four second-half goals! The equaliser and winner come from our centre-backs. Dortmund hadn’t lost in 2016. They hadn’t let a two-goal lead slip since 2011. ! It can’t happen and yet it did.
Most great Anfield nights don’t begin by going 2-0 down in the first 10 minutes. In fact, some statto on Twitter even revealed that we’d never been in such a position in Europe in our entire history
But this night rewrote the record books.
What can you think when you watch your team ship two early goals like that? Bizarrely, it had the strange effect of settling my nerves. I’d been like a cat on a hot tin roof for most of the day but those strikes by the quicksilver Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang calmed me down completely. What was there to be on edge about now? They’d got two away goals, usurping what had seemed our significant one in Dortmund, so we now needed three.
‘Evoking Istanbul 2005’
Even if the very optimistic part of my imagination could see that (to be honest, it couldn’t), what was going to stop them adding more goals? They were carving us open at will. A Jamie Carragher quote from Istanbul even came into my mind. “This could be embarrassing. We could lose this six or seven,” the defender remembered thinking as the Reds trudged off at half-time 3-0 down to AC Milan.
Of course, we all remember what happened there and, 11 years on, the aftershock of that earthquake moment could be felt at Anfield.
Because of what happened in the 2005 Champions League final, Liverpool fans will forever think anything is possible.
Going 2-0 and then 3-1 down to a top side like Dortmund leaves a mountain to climb but what we’ve learned is that there’s no point in giving up and looking forlornly at the summit.
Liverpool needed to set up base camp with an early second-half goal and got it thanks to Divock Origi. It was a lovely strike too with a series of short forward passes and a calmly poked finish from a player who can do no wrong.
That’s four goals in three games for the Belgian, who has suddenly become Jurgen Klopp’s favourite striker. On the evidence of the two legs against Dortmund, he’s deserving of such status.
Liverpool goals flowing from multitude of sources
Marco Reus’s classy third nine minutes later should have been the knockout blow but, again, Liverpool wouldn’t accept defeat.
Our tally of 22 goals in the opening 20 Premier League games of this schizophrenic season was the worst in the club’s history. The need for a fit and healthy Daniel Sturridge was alarmingly clear. It seemed only he could solve the problem.
But since the turn of the year, we are the Premier League’s top scorers. The goals are flowing from different sources and the absolute reliance on Sturridge has diminished.
One of those to step up is Philippe Coutinho and his trademark curling strike to make it 2-2 in the 66th minute was his sixth goal in 12 games. He’s now doing what we thought he could.
With belief levels heightened again, it was the turn of our centre-backs to emerge as the evening’s unlikely heroes.
Both Mamadou Sakho and Dejan Lovren have been much maligned during their Anfield careers, the Frenchman more so by fans of other clubs (most at LFC love his warrior spirit, others can’t see past his clumsiness) but Lovren often by his own.
However, both their stocks have been rising and they went into this game with confidence high, especially after keeping Dortmund quiet for most of the game at the Westfalstadion.
That said, important clearing headers and brave blocks only earn a certain level of praise. What really creates heroes are goals. Especially dramatic ones in huge matches that send the crowd into ecstasy.
Sakho was first to deliver on this crazy night with a nodded header in the 77th minute. Surely we couldn’t rescue this one could we?
For a while it looked like heroic failure as we couldn’t really get up a head of steam and muster a clear chance.
It needed brains as well as brawn to unlock Dortmund one more time and Sturridge was there to provide the former.
Sturridge didn’t score on the night but his impact from the bench was still significant. For Sakho’s goal, his near-post run and attempted flick from the corner caused the confusion in the Germans’ defence that allowed Sakho to head home.
But it was the way he peeled away from the Dortmund defence when everyone expected the injury-time free-kick to be pumped into the box that gave a reminder of how that grey matter between Sturridge’s ears is just as important as his shooting boots. He’s a smart player, who finds space and angles that others don’t see.
‘All you need is Lov’
The last word has to go to Lovren though.
When he ballooned a penalty kick over the bar to condemn Liverpool to a shootout defeat against Besiktas in this competition last year, his status as ridiculed, waste-of-money fall-guy was cemented. “I am sorry,” he tweeted forlornly. Liverpool fans shrugged indifferently.
Just over 13 months on, he now has his place in Liverpool folklore.
The man who completed one of the greatest fightbacks Anfield has ever seen. The man who scored the final goal of Liverpool’s Fab Four. The man who finally delivered the perfect Beatles headline – ‘All You Need Is Lov’ – on this red, yellow and green-hued psychedelic night at Anfield which was so wonderfully strange we felt like we were smoking something John, Paul, George and Ringo had got hold of in the late 60s.
What a comeback. What a night. My head’s gone. I need to lie down.