Liverpool managed to avoid the same fate that brought down Roma’s last opponent and has earned itself a place in the Champions League final.
Liverpool fell to Roma to 4-2 in the second leg of their semifinal on Wednesday but advanced on a high-scoring 7-6 aggregate to set up a date vs. Real Madrid in the final in Kiev on May 26.
Liverpool carried a 5-2 aggregate edge into the second leg vs. Roma, which was hoping to pull off a second straight miracle comeback to advance. In the quarterfinals, Roma overturned a 4-1 aggregate deficit by beating Barcelona 3-0 in the second leg at home to go through via the away-goal tiebreaker. An identical result Wednesday (or a 4-1 win or any four-goal triumph) would have done the trick, though Roma had to do its share of the work defensively and keep a high-powered Liverpool side off the board, too. That proved difficult, with Sadio Mane scoring early and Georginio Wijnaldum adding a second the pulled Liverpool level on the tiebreaker, in case it ever came into play.
Needing goals, Roma came out with plenty of pressure and possession. After a couple of semi-chances, Alessandro Florenzi fired the first warning shot, a blast from long distance that narrowly missed Loris Karius’s goal in the sixth minute.
Liverpool, meanwhile, was patient in defense, waiting for its chance to pounce, and it came in the ninth minute. A turnover in midfield sparked a trademark Liverpool counterattack, with Mane finishing off a pass from Roberto Firmino to make it 1-0 on the day and 6-2 on aggregate.
Roma was given a lifeline in bizarre fashion, getting on the board in the 15th minute through an own goal. Dejan Lovren attempted to clear from his own box, but he blasted it off of James Milner’s head and into Liverpool’s goal to make it 1-1 on the day and 6-3 on aggregate.
Roma likely should’ve had another in the 63rd minute, when Stephan El-Shaarawy had a close-range chance denied by desperation defending from Trent Alexander-Arnold. Upon review, the Liverpool defender clearly handled the ball in making the block, but no call was given.
Roma pulled ahead on the day in the 86th minute through Nainggolan, who blasted a long-range chance by a helpless Karius and tucking it inside the far post.
Nainggolan got Roma within one with seconds remaining, firing home from the penalty spot after a handball on Ragnar Klavan, but it came with just seconds remaining in stoppage time.
The referee’s final whistle came moments after the restart, with Roma bowing out after a valiant and surprising run in the competition. As for Liverpool, one more victory remains to complete its impressive showing in Europe.