Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool deserve a shot at Champions League glory, says proud Klopp

By Adam McKendry

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp said his side deserved to reach the Champions League final after they just managed to see off Roma 7-6 on aggregate in a thrilling semi-final.

Despite losing 4-2 on the night, the Anfield club managed to hold on thanks to their 5-2 win in the first leg, with first half goals from Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum enough to see them through.

Roma threatened an almighty comeback, as they did in the quarter-final against Barcelona, as two late strikes from Radja Nainggolan brought the deficit back to just one goal, however it proved to be too little too late for the hosts.

Klopp’s men will now face Real Madrid in the final in Kiev on May 26, with the German admitting his side needed their fair share of good fortune to progress but that they were the better side over 180 minutes.

“We are deserved finalists 100%,” Klopp said. “You don’t come without luck. We needed it only one time tonight. Real Madrid needed luck yesterday too. That’s how it is.

“The boys deserve it, the character they showed, the football they showed — it was just crazy.

“I forgot the score! It was 7-6, right? Unbelievable!”

The Reds boss added: “The game was wild. They took all the risks and we punished it with the counter-attack but then we gave away a goal.

“There was lots of space, but then our last line was too deep and you cannot play like this. Each counter-attack was really dangerous but we didn't use this. We were a little too patient. We are usually much better.

“It was the first semi-final for most of the boys so it’s normal to have to keep nerves in. It was a little bit exciting — more exciting than I actually wanted.”

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson insists the Reds will head to Kiev in a buoyant mood.

While Henderson admits they have to hold onto leads better in the closing stages of games, he admits he’s simply delighted to be in the final where Liverpool will face off against Real Madrid for the right to be European champions.

“We never do it the easy way unfortunately!” the midfielder laughed.

“It was an amazing effort. In the first half we did well and scored some good goals. Overall we handled the situation well apart from the last 10 minutes. We need to stop that but I’m delighted we’re in the final.

“We knew it was important to score and get one early on. We were unlucky with their first goal but overall we have to be happy with what we have done over the two legs. We could have done better in this game but we’ve made it through to the final.

“We have another important game at the weekend against Chelsea and then we have Real Madrid in the final. We will go there with confidence.”

After Mane’s ninth-minute finish, Netherlands midfielder Wijnaldum added a second for the Reds, who looked to be home and hosed when leading 2-1 at the break.

His strike, coupled with Mane’s smart finish, were what saw the visitors over the line, and Wijnaldum says he can’t wait for the final.

“It was perfect timing! It was a really important moment when I scored. I was lucky the ball came to me,” he said.

“It will be a nice game (against Real Madrid). If you want to win the Champions League you have to beat any team. They have lots of good players but so do we, so it will be a good match.”

Meanwhile, veteran midfielder James Milner found himself lost for words at the full-time whistle, but managed to express his pride at the work he and his team-mates put in over the two games.

“I don’t know what to say after that. We know how to make it interesting, don’t we?” he said with incredulity.

“That’s what it is all about though — these scenes right here.

“We know we need to do better to see out games. All in all I thought we played quite well but could have controlled it better.

“Nobody said getting to the Champions League final is easy and we’ve beaten some great teams on the way.”

However, the England star admitted they weren’t looking any further ahead than this week’s clash with Chelsea.

“It was about getting the job done and now we’re through to the final. We have to enjoy this but not for too long as we have another important game this weekend,” Milner stated.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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