Another Mohamed Salah masterclass helped Liverpool take control of their Champions League semi-final – but two late Roma away goals gave the Italian side a glimmer of hope for the second leg.
Liverpool, who last reached the final in 2007, repeatedly breached the visitors’ naively high defensive line and scored five times in the opening 68 minutes at a raucous Anfield.
Salah, who has now scored 43 goals since his summer move from Roma, scored twice and assisted two other goals.
He curled his first into the top corner from the edge of the box – then clipped the ball over Alisson for a second.
Salah then ran down the right and squared for Sadio Mane to make it 3-0 – before doing the same to set up Roberto Firmino.
Liverpool then became only the second team to score five goals in a Champions League semi-final match when Firmino headed in James Milner’s corner.
With his side leading 5-0, Reds boss Jurgen Klopp took off Salah – and Roma gave themselves a chance for next week’s return leg at the Stadio Olimpico.
First Edin Dzeko lashed home from Radja Nainggolan’s pass, then Diego Perotti put a penalty into the top right corner after Milner handled Nainggolan’s shot.
And Roma need only look to the last round for inspiration – they lost the first leg in Barcelona 4-1 before winning 3-0 in Italy to progress on away goals.
A repeat of the latter scoreline this time would take them into the final against Bayern Munich or Real Madrid.
Prior to Roma’s late goals, the one sour note for Liverpool was the sight of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain leaving the field on a stretcher. Klopp said later the England midfielder “probably had a really bad injury”.
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Salah’s greatest moment yet?
When Salah moved to Anfield last summer for £34m after two good seasons for Roma, nobody could have predicted what would follow.
The Egypt winger has scored 43 goals in 48 games for Liverpool – an average of one every 87 minutes – and is the Premier League’s top scorer.
He has netted in his past seven games – including four goals against Watford, and one in both legs of the Champions League quarter-final win over Manchester City. On Sunday, he was named Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
But it has all been leading up to this night at Anfield.
Roma had no answer to their former player, who opened the scoring off the underside of the bar after Jordan Henderson won the ball from Dzeko, and Mane and Firmino combined to find Salah.
His second came when he found Firmino from the halfway line, then ran forward to latch onto his team-mate’s pass before lifting the ball over Roma keeper Alisson, considered one of the best in the world. He did not celebrate either goal.
Salah then took advantage of Roma’s high defending to get in down the right, perhaps from an offside position, before finding the previously wasteful Mane as Liverpool started to cruise.
He then rolled a ball across the six-yard box for Firmino to score.
With the tie seemingly won, Salah came off to a standing ovation when he was replaced by Danny Ings with 15 minutes left.
But he might need to score again in Rome after the visitors’ late rally.
Rampant Reds enjoy another famous Anfield night
The Reds, who have won the European Cup or Champions League five times, were beaten by AC Milan in their last final appearance.
With no side having gone through from 5-0 down at the end of the first leg in any European competition, Klopp will be annoyed they have given Roma that little bit of hope.
For an hour they were sublime, and could have scored eight or nine goals.
After a good opening 20 minutes for Roma, Liverpool started to pick them apart and had already missed several good chances before Salah’s opener.
Mane blazed two great chances over the bar from Firmino passes – first when he ran from near the halfway line before shooting over, then from a cut-back.
The Senegal striker then had a goal rightly ruled out for offside from Andrew Robertson’s cross. Between Salah’s goals, Dejan Lovren missed a glorious chance when he headed against the crossbar from close range.
But once they refined their finishing, Roma looked terrified every time the hosts got the ball.
And even after the visitors’ late double, Liverpool will fancy their chances of being in Kiev for the final on Saturday, 26 May.
Roma rally gives them hope
Roma looked down and out after 80 minutes – with the only real question appearing to be whether they would concede again.
They had the game’s first chance, in a bright start, when Aleksandar Kolarov’s 20-yard drive was weakly touched onto the bar by Loris Karius, who was lucky not to turn it into his own net.
They looked totally out of ideas and hope towards the end, when suddenly Nainggolan’s ball over the top found Dzeko, who smashed the ball home. It looked like it would just be a consolation, but suddenly it was a new match.
Nainggolan, who had been fairly quiet, had a shot from outside the box which Milner handled before Perotti, a substitute, stroked the ball into the opposite corner of the same goal Salah had found to start the mayhem.
Liverpool were hanging on at this stage and Roma almost had a third when Dzeko shot over from distance and Nainggolan’s shot was deflected wide.
Man of the match – Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Match stats – joint highest-scoring semi-final
- Liverpool are only the second side in Champions League history to score five goals in a semi-final match (also Ajax in 1995, 5-2 v Bayern Munich).
- This game produced the joint most goals of any Champions League semi-final match.
- Roma have won just one of their past 15 away Champions League games (D5 L9).
- Liverpool are the first side in Champions League history to have three players score eight or more goals in a single season in the competition (Salah 10, Firmino 10, Mane 8).
- The 10 goals scored by Salah and Firmino are the most by Liverpool players in a single season in European competition.
- Salah has netted 43 goals in all competitions this season – only Ian Rush in 1983-84 (47) has scored more in a single campaign for Liverpool.
- Salah’s haul in the most by any player in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues this season.
- He has scored in each of his past five Champions League starts for Liverpool, something only Steven Gerrard had previously done.
- Only Cristiano Ronaldo (18) has been directly involved in more Champions League goals this season than Firmino (16, 10 goals, 6 assists).
- Milner has provided nine assists in the Champions League this season (including qualifiers), a new record. Wayne Rooney (2013-14) and Neymar (2016-17) assisted eight each in a campaign.
The second leg of this tie is next Wednesday, 2 May (19:45 BST) – but both sides are in league action on Saturday.
Liverpool host Stoke City at 12:30 BST. Roma, who are battling to qualify for next season’s Champions League, are at home to Chievo later that day (17:00 BST).
- 66Alexander-ArnoldBooked at 39mins
- 6LovrenBooked at 74mins
- 4van Dijk
- 21Oxlade-ChamberlainSubstituted forWijnaldumat 18′minutes
- 14HendersonBooked at 85mins
- 11SalahSubstituted forIngsat 75′minutes
- 9FirminoSubstituted forKlavanat 90+3′minutes
- 1Ramses Becker
- 20FazioBooked at 88mins
- 5Nunes JesusBooked at 26minsSubstituted forPerottiat 67′minutes
- 16De RossiSubstituted forGonalonsat 67′minutes
- 17ÜnderSubstituted forSchickat 45′minutes
- 25da Silva Peres
- 92El Shaarawy
- Dr. Felix Brych
- Shots on Target
Match ends, Liverpool 5, Roma 2.
Second Half ends, Liverpool 5, Roma 2.
Federico Fazio (Roma) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Danny Ings (Liverpool).
Substitution, Liverpool. Ragnar Klavan replaces Roberto Firmino.
Attempt missed. Federico Fazio (Roma) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Alessandro Florenzi with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Roma. Conceded by Andrew Robertson.
Attempt blocked. Radja Nainggolan (Roma) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Patrik Schick.
Hand ball by Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool).
Federico Fazio (Roma) is shown the yellow card.
James Milner (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Maxime Gonalons (Roma).
Attempt missed. Diego Perotti (Roma) right footed shot from the left side of the six yard box misses to the left. Assisted by Edin Dzeko with a cross.
Attempt missed. Edin Dzeko (Roma) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Radja Nainggolan.
Goal! Liverpool 5, Roma 2. Diego Perotti (Roma) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top right corner.
Jordan Henderson (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card.
Penalty conceded by James Milner (Liverpool) with a hand ball in the penalty area.
Attempt blocked. Radja Nainggolan (Roma) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Attempt saved. Edin Dzeko (Roma) left footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Radja Nainggolan.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Aleksandar Kolarov.
Attempt missed. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross.
Goal! Liverpool 5, Roma 1. Edin Dzeko (Roma) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top left corner. Assisted by Radja Nainggolan with a through ball.
Hand ball by Kevin Strootman (Roma).
Offside, Roma. Edin Dzeko tries a through ball, but Diego Perotti is caught offside.
Delay over. They are ready to continue.
Substitution, Liverpool. Danny Ings replaces Mohamed Salah.
Delay in match Kevin Strootman (Roma) because of an injury.
Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Dejan Lovren (Liverpool).
Edin Dzeko (Roma) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Patrik Schick (Roma) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Diego Perotti with a cross.
Offside, Liverpool. Jordan Henderson tries a through ball, but Mohamed Salah is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Diego Perotti (Roma) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Radja Nainggolan with a cross.
Corner, Roma. Conceded by Andrew Robertson.
Goal! Liverpool 5, Roma 0. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by James Milner with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Maxime Gonalons.
Substitution, Roma. Diego Perotti replaces Juan Jesus.
Substitution, Roma. Maxime Gonalons replaces Daniele De Rossi.
Foul by James Milner (Liverpool).
Kevin Strootman (Roma) wins a free kick in the defensive half.