LONDON: Liverpool staged one of the greatest comebacks in even their grand history to beat Borussia Dortmund 4-3 at Anfield to reach the semi-finals of the Europa League.
After emotion-powered preliminaries with a mass rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone and a pin-drop minute’s silence ahead of the last Hillsborough memorial service, the football itself wrenched every atom of romantic drama out of the occasion.
Dortmund snatched an early two-goal lead through Henrik Mkhitaryan, and Pierre-Emerich Aubameyang. Then, after Divock Origi pulled one back following the interval, went 3-1 up with a superb angled finish from Stefan Reus.
At this point the Germans were back in command. But Liverpool, roared on by the crowd, know their own history of astonishing recoveries and chased yet another, improbable as it seemed after their ragged early football.
Philippe Coutinho scored in the 66th, Mamadou Sakho in the 78th and then, just when stoppage time was running out, Liverpool won it with another close-range header from Stefan Lovren.
“It was brilliant,” said manager Jurgen Klopp. “That’s what European football can be at its best. A wonderful experience. I can hardly believe it happened like this. Congratulations to all the lads. It’s so good, it’s unbelievable.”
Sevilla edge it
Holders Sevilla, who have made the competition their own in the last two years, lost 2-1 at home to Bilbao, but edged through on penalties.
They fell behind when Aritz Aduriz scored his 10th goal in this season’s competition and after equalising through Kevin Gameiro, were behind again when Raul Garcia found the net with a looping header 10 minutes from time.
That levelled the tie at 3-3 on aggregate and forced extra time. With the sides still level after 120 minutes, Sevilla sneaked through after Bilbao’s Benat Etxebarria missed their fourth spot-kick and Gameiro scored to secure a 5-4 shootout victory.
Shakhtar Donetsk cruised into only their second European semi-final with Darijo Srna opening the scoring from the penalty spot to mark his record-breaking 486th game for the club.
Two own goals from Braga centre back Ricardo Ferreira either side of a goal from Viktor Kovalenko rounded off the scoring.
Villarreal’s Cedric Bakambu struck twice to take his tally in the competition to nine goals as they reached the semi-finals for the third time with a 4-2 win at Sparta Prague.