Liverpool take a three-goal lead to Rome next week, but it might have been more had the visitors not rallied to pull two late strikes back to curb the hosts' advantage at Anfield on Tuesday night.
Anfield was once again filled with European night excitement, with songs and chants thundering around the ground as Liverpool hosted the first leg of their Champions League semi final tie against Roma. And the game rightfully matched the atmosphere. Despite a nervy start, the Reds headed into halftime with total control thanks to Merseyside's reigning king, Mohamed Salah.
The game got to an intense start as both teams attempted to get ahead early on in the game. Both Salah and Roberto Firmino attempted to get Liverpool an early goal, however Salah's shot was easily saved and Firmino merely flashed the ball across the face of the goal.
Liverpool suffered an early blow as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was forced off the pitch with an injury and replaced by Gini Wijnaldum.
Despite a couple of early attempts from Liverpool the Reds didn't seem to make it out of second gear early on. After 18 minutes Jürgen Klopp's side received a wake-up call as Aleksander Kolarov's shot was only just saved by Loris Karius, who swiped at the ball only for it to hammer against the crossbar.
The crossbar is struck!— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) April 24, 2018
Kolarov's long-ranger is tipped onto the bar by Karius. Just.
"I thought Karius made a mess of that" - Alan Green
"He did, but he made the save, that's the important thing" - @RobbieSavage8
https://t.co/PFsF2mgR4V ⚽️ #LIVROM #UCL pic.twitter.com/7kH10n8LEK
Not long after, Liverpool started to find their momentum and started to respond to Roma's pressure. After 28 minutes, Sadio Mané charged down on goal as he blazed passed the Roma defenders only for him to rocket the ball over goal and into the stands. This was all it took for Liverpool to rank up their pace. The Reds began dragging Roma all over the pitch as they upped the pressure with attack after attack.
Soon Liverpool attempts seemed to come to fruition as Mané's third try seemed to be the charm however the Senegalese's shot was ruled offside. Yet, this didn't stop Liverpool as they continued to harass Roma out of possession showing no signs of slowing their attacking advances. And it came as no surprise when minutes later ex-Roma man Salah opened the scoring in style as he cut inside to send a beautiful strike bending into the top corner.
It didn't take much longer and Anfield was roaring again. Salah cushioned a long pass in midfield to Roberto Firmino, for the Brazilian to gift the Egyptian King with a calm, collected assist who dinked it over the keeper and into goal. Unstoppable.
Salah! Again! Wow!— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 24, 2018
This time the coolest of dinks over the keeper!
Goal number 43 of the season pic.twitter.com/pkQWlhS26l
The Reds started the second half as rampant as ever. After 54 minutes, first half scorer Salah turned provider as he set up the perfect shot for Mané who swiftly put it into the back of the net. After several missed attempts in the first half, the Senegalese's hunger for goal finally paid off.
And the Liverpool Attack Bingo was complete as Bobby made it four. The second half appeared to pick up exactly where the first half left off. Liverpool's intensity, momentum and dynamic attacking left Roma hopeless, as once again Liverpool's Egyptian superstar came in with the assist, this time for Bobby Firmino who wasted no time in tapping the ball into goal.
The Liverpool fans had barely finished celebrating the fourth when Firmino made it five. The Brazilian bagged his second of the night and his 50th of his Liverpool career as he popped up from a corner to head to ball in at the back post.
Roma's energetic dominance of the first 20 minutes of the game now seemed another lifetime ago.
However, just when Roma seemed to have lost all hope, i giallorossi managed to claw their way onto the scoresheet. A defensive error from Liverpool allowed Edin Dzeko to pull one back for the visitors as he slotted the ball past Karius.
Minutes later yet another defensive mistake proved costly for Liverpool as Roma were awarded a penalty, which was swiftly converted by Diego Perotti. Liverpool looked to be letting it slip.
The first leg of the semi final tie did not disappoint as the game was brimmed with intensity and excitement. Klopp's men seem set for Kiev as they head into the second leg with a three goal lead.
However, the Reds' electric energy short circuited in the last 20 minutes to allow Roma to grab two vital away goals. Liverpool head to Rome with the advantage but the tie is far from over, just ask Barcelona.