SOS invited the brothers of Sean Cox to attend, which they did, for the first time since the incident. It was our first home second leg of a European Cup semi final in 12 years. Like the previous ones against Chelsea and Zurich, when you win them the scenes at the end are so much sweeter than when you have the first leg at home as last year, where there was barely a cheer at the final whistle. When we beat them in 2001 to make the UEFA Cup Final, the scenes were great, the scenes after disposing them again 18 years on were eye watering, even for those of us who don't cry through it. When we win these games away it's great, when we won them at home in front of 50,000 Friends, it's special. Nothing ott, no generic songs, no plastic flags, no sponsors cardboard cutouts, just a spontaneous, emotional celebration of who we are, what we do, and what we stand for. There's a lot of euphoria in it, but there's also many years of experience to reflect on. All those years of constantly told, still are, that we can't and we won't and we don't and we couldn't. This is our answer.
Wonderful to see all of the coaching staff and squad from Kelleher to Salah together as one, arm in arm, side by side. There's no animosity between those who play every week and those who do well to make the bench, let alone the pitch. Delighted for Allison as he was on the wrong side of the line last year. Just show the video of it to any transfer target and ask if he wants to be part of all this or not. You can maybe have better cities, lifestyle, and weather somewhere else, but you won't find this anywhere else. It's the people that make it. We are More Than A Club, We Are A Family.
Barcelona are not what they used to be, so most, me included, expected us to win the home game. I thought getting 3 goals was very doable, and if they arrived early enough, so was a 4th. But like most, I didn't think we could keep the back door shut, so having to score at least 5 goals was always going to be the tallest of orders. After getting the early goal, we hoped to kick on from there. Instead they controlled the game and it seemed a matter of time before we would know we would need to score 5.
Half time arrived and darkness descended around Anfield. It got darker again when we learned that Robbo couldn't run his injury off, and Milner had to fill in for him again. However, we hunted them down after the break in packs. For lengthy periods, they couldn't get out of their own penalty area, let alone their own half. Once the second goal came, the third was sort of inevitable really. Although 31 seconds from tip off to back of the net was not. So the three goals were in the bag in less than an hour, now the only question was how many more do we need.
When Messi got his free kick, I feared the worst, so much so that I had to look away at the time. He doesn't score every free kick from that distance, but when he's around they're effectively penalties. His free kicks either go straight in or stay out, there's no in between. The kick itself was a replay of the first leg, but this time it hit the wall before it got to the top corner, and when I resumed watching, the danger had passed, and we could settle down again.
I love the fourth goal, I watched the entire moment, but seriously I still can't stop laughing at how Trent caught them all on the hop. Did they not see the corner we scored in Cardiff? Obviously not. Mind you Belgium's most famous Kenyan almost missed it. It was almost headed away but he got his 6th goal of the season. So Trent's brainwave meant 3 hours of football was settled in 3 seconds flat. 4 goals was enough. Last year we needed 7 goals to progress, this year there was 7 goals in the tie, but the outcome was the same, Liverpool in the European Cup Final.
I would have preferred in the final to play a team from a different country tbh, because European football is all about going to different cities and playing teams from other countries, not your own league. We don't have any choice this time but on the positive side, our fans will be safe and despite being the "away" side, we can wear our own colours as usual. It's another game v a white shirt opponent, just as every other European Cup Final we've won. And if we win No. 6 in June, we can go back to Istanbul next year and collect No. 7. That's another tale though for another time.
In the meantime, we have a chance to draw a line under the past 29 years. The EPL trophy will be on standby on Sunday, ready to go, with the full quota of winners medals. Every bookie, expert, pundit, and media network has wrote our chances off again, as they have all season. They said a title challenge was impossible, and getting 90+ points was impossible, and getting out of the group was impossible, and beating Barcelona 4-0 was impossible. They have learned nothing from the past few days, previous last day events, or from what we've done all season. They keep telling us no we can't, but it's the final day of the season, a unique day in the calendar, where the formbook gets tossed out the window and it's every man for himself. Despair one minute can turn to Euphoria the next. We are 90 minutes from the greatest day since Istanbul.
Nothing you ever want in life is impossible. Impossible just means taking longer than anticipated. Our history is all about achieving things rivals can only dream of. We Are Liverpool.