herald

Saturday 1 October 2016

Ronnie Whelan: Liverpool heart beats Dortmund quality at Anfield

Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring the winning goal. Photo: PA
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring the winning goal. Photo: PA

Astonishing. Exhilarating and if Jurgen Klopp can give us a few more nights like this, he will go down in history as a Kop legend.

It was a game to sit alongside all of the great Anfield Euro nights, a truly wonderful comeback and a win over Dortmund which opens the door wide to the Europa League final.

Dortmund were a yard quicker in mind and body and every Liverpool fan now knows the gap in quality which must be closed.

But Liverpool matched them in every other way. Heart, commitment, energy and self-belief - and huge credit must go to Klopp for inspiring a fantastic fight back.

At the end of the first-half, I was thinking okay, Liverpool are out but I'm not disconsolate at all to lose to this team.

What we saw from Dortmund was exactly where Klopp wants to be but only he and his players knew that they were ready to a giant step forward after half-time..

Before that, across the field in that first 45 minutes, Dortmund had better players doing the same jobs as Klopp's men but doing them better, much, much better.

The game went much the same way as the first-leg in the Westfaldenstadion. In that one, Dortmund came out firing but Liverpool held them out and were able to go chasing their own goal once they had taken the sting out of that opening charge.

By the time Liverpool got their game going in any way at all last night, Dortmund were two ahead and buzzing.

They do everything at pace and they have bags of it. Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang and Reus make life difficult for defenders with a high press when they don't have the ball and rip a defence open with a few passes when they get it.

It's breathtaking to watch and exactly what Klopp wants from his team but it just didn't look like they have the edge to pull it off as well as Dortmund do.

They are a very, very good side indeed but the realistic view would put they a level below the best in the Champions League and that, in turn, shows how big a job Klopp did to turn things around at half-time.

Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang's first-half goals knocked the stuffing out of everyone and it was to the players credit and of course Klopp's that they came out on the front foot for the second-half and got themselves back in the gamer.

Daniel Origi was lively all night and finished off a stunning move from back to front to open the game up again.

Even after Reus banged in a third for Dortmund, I still felt that Liverpool were not in the mood to lie down and then Coutinho finally found a sweet spot.

That would have almost been enough to finish the game feeling upbeat and I didn't expect Liverpool to push up to another gear and go chasing the result.

It was brilliant to watch. Liverpool laid siege and the momentum moved inexorably in their direction.

When Dejan Lovren popped up to score the fourth, the top almost flew off Anfield and I have to own up to a few air punches myself.

These things don't happen very often in sport. I was lucky enough to play in a few and it is wonderful to wake up once again the warm glow of an epic win in Europe.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News