Jurgen Klopp is ready to make Liverpool winners after leading them to club football’s biggest game on a nerve-shredding night in Rome.
Liverpool lost 4-2 in the Stadio Olimpico but it did not prevent them reaching their eighth European Cup final with a 7-6 aggregate victory over Roma. They will play Real Madrid on May 26 in Kiev and Klopp had warned the Spaniards his side ‘will be ready’.
This was the second highest scoring semi-final in European history – the outcome of Roma throwing everything they had at Liverpool during what Klopp described as a ‘wild’ game – and it is their ability to plunder goals that left the German confident his team ‘will be on fire’ in Kiev.
Klopp said: ‘We were in League Cup final, we didn’t win it. People don’t tell me in the street since then: “Thank you for bringing us to the final.” We were in Europa League final, nobody tells me that. I see no trophies after these games. They don’t hang silver medals at Melwood.
‘That’s a pity, that’s the game. There’s still a job to do but that’s how it is. Going to a final is really nice but winning is even nicer. We will be ready then but is Real Madrid. You cannot be more experienced in this competition than Real Madrid.
‘I think 80 per cent of the team of Real Madrid played all these finals. They are four times in the last five years and still together. They are experienced, we are not, but we will be really on fire. We have to play two more Champions League semi finals in the Premier League. That’s the first job to do.’
Liverpool’s celebrations were exuberant at the end. The squad spent 10 minutes dancing in front of the 5,000 away supporters then, 30 minutes after the final whistle, Klopp returned to them, punching the air and whipping them into a frenzy.
They dedicated the success to Sean Cox, the 53-year-old Irishman who was left in a coma following an unprovoked attack by Roma fans at Anfield, and his plight forms part of the reason that Klopp is on a crusade to finally claim some silverware.
He said: ‘I need to start winning and I know that already. I wanted but now it’s over and we are fine You don’t come to the final without luck. We only needed it once and that was tonight. I give the boys the night, they don’t drink alcohol, they can stay a little longer awake.
‘They recover tomorrow and then we go to Chelsea. They will fight for everything. We cannot go to Champions League final with nice football constantly being better.’
James Milner, who was superb once again, was only too happy to accept Klopp’s invitation to celebrate the achievement, the famously teetotal midfielder saying: ‘We’ve beaten some great teams on the way. I might stretch myself out to some Ribena or something, maybe!’
Captain Jordan Henderson added:
‘We never do it the easy way unfortunately. It was an amazing effort. In the first half we did well and scored some good goals. Overall we handled the situation well apart from the last 10 minutes. We need to stop that but I’m delighted we’re in the final.’
If Liverpool were all smiles, Roma were furious at the way in which their bid to overturn the first leg deficit failed and president James Pallotta was incensed by referee Damir Skomina, saying:
‘It’s absolutely clear that VAR is needed in the Champions League.
‘You just can’t let stuff like this go. You can all look at it yourself on the film. (Stephan) El Shaarawy potentially in the 49th minute wasn’t offside and he got taken down by the goalie. The 63rd minute was a handball (by Trent Alexander-Arnold) that was obvious to everybody in probably the world.
‘Except the few people on the pitch, that is. The 67th minute Schick gets taken down in the box. I know it’s difficult to referee, but it’s really embarrassing when we lose on aggregate like that. By the way, it should have been red card, which would have been 10 men in the 63rd minute.
‘Again, Liverpool’s a great team – congratulations going forward. But if we don’t get VAR in Champions League stuff like this is an absolute joke.’