Mohamed Salah came back to haunt former club Roma in spectacular style with two goals and two assists as Liverpool stormed towards the Champions League final with a 5-2 semi-final, first-leg win at Anfield on Tuesday.
Roberto Firmino also scored twice and Sadio Mane netted Liverpool’s other goal to make up for missing a series of gilt-edged chances as the scoreline did anything but flatter the hosts.
Roma produced one of the finest comebacks in Champions League history by overturning a 4-1 first-leg deficit against Barcelona in the quarter-finals.
They will need to do the same in the return leg on May 2, but the visitors were at least given a lifeline when Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti grabbed two vital away goals in the final 10 minutes.
“This reaction is welcome because we give meaning to the return match,” said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco.
“We have to believe, in football everything can happen, it will be a different match from the one with Barcelona, but the desire to overturn it is there.”
Liverpool will rue their missed chances and poor late defending, but remain well on course for a first final in 11 years.
“Of course we would have been more happy with 5-0 or 5-1 but 5-2 is a fantastic result. We go there and try again,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp.
“We scored these goals and could have scored more. That is all positive, at this moment it doesn’t feel all positive because they scored these two goals but tomorrow I will see the really good part of the game.”
The hosts’ early rhythm was disrupted when Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain was stretchered off with what Klopp described as “probably a really bad injury”, putting his World Cup dreams with England in doubt.
Moments later, the visitors were inches away from the opener when Aleksandar Kolarov’s long-range strike slipped through the grasp of Loris Karius and came back off the crossbar.
However, Liverpool soon settled and should have put the tie beyond doubt before half-time.
Mane blazed over when clean through on goal and then skewed wide when teed up by Firmino.