Second half dominance sees Liverpool past Bayern Munich
Jürgen Klopp's Reds produced a fine performance in Munich with a brace from Mané and one from Van Dijk seeing them into the Champions League quarter-finals.
Bayern Munich vs Liverpool: match review
Jürgen Klopp marches his side into the Champions League quarter-finals against an old foe. Bayern may have returned to the summit of the Bundesliga, but they never truly showed their teeth against a Liverpool side that looked nervous in the first half, and then confidently assured in the second. Across the two legs, only one team deserved to progress, and although that doesn't always happen in football, it did tonight.
Bayern tried to control much of the first 45 and their visitors, much like the game in that period, struggled to find any rhythm. Then, a ball up to the always-interested Sadio Mané was killed dead by the forward, putting the Neuer in a tricky position at the edge of his area. The striker spun back on himself, around the keeper, and then dinked a delicious ball into the open net, avoiding two covering defenders. That valuable away goal was in play.
That goal was cancelled out on the night by a Matip own goal after great play by Serge Gnabry on the right, and Bayern went on the hunt for the all important second. It didn't come in the final minutes of the first half and, as we were to see, after that any hope would quickly disappear.
Whether or not Klopp reminded his players during the break that they were a force to be reckoned with.this season, remains to be seen. But the Liverpool side that came out with extra fire, belief, passion, call it what you will, and ran away with the tie. Headers from the imperious Van Dijk and another for Mané sent out a statement to the other teams that are in Friday's pot. This side will not be at the top of anyone's preferred pick when the balls come out.
Relive the game below...
Bayern Munich vs Liverpool: how it happened
Bayern Munich vs Liverpool: match preview
Kings of Europe ten times between them, five apiece, Bayern Munich and Liverpool can quantifiably be classed as continental heavyweights. And coming into this second leg, one leading the Bundesliga on goal difference, the other just a single point off the Premier League leaders, there is no doubt that we have a huge night ahead of us.
The German side, following a patchy start to their season, have been performing well in recent weeks. Home form has been particularly impressive, having won eight of their last ten at the Allianz Arena (drawing the other two) and securing clean sheets in half of those. Holding Liverpool at bay tonight could be the key to progression knowing that any away goal will hurt after their limp attacking showing in England.
Missing for Niko Kovač tonight will be the influencial Kimmich who picked up a booking in the first leg. How the manager looks to fill that slot will be interesting. Thomas Muller is also suspended, while Tolisso and Arjen Robben also miss out through injury. There is, of course, quality throughout the Bayern XI but this game could come down to key moments from either end of their formation. Manuel Neuer has consistently been viewed as one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the world for some time and is likely to be called into action against a lively attack. Robert Lewandowski is the other Bayern bookend, recently taking his place in history as the highest scoring foreign player in the Bundesliga. Give him chances and he will score. Whether Kovač decides to go for it more than he did in the first game will determine how many he gets.
Jürgen Klopp's team became known last season for their blistering counter-attacks and high press. Both were critical parts to them scoring for fun, with the front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah regularly punishes opposition defences. The system though lacked some solidity, and they were found wanting in the Premier League, and also, on occasions, in their run to the Champions League final. Additions of Alisson Becker in goal and Virgil van Dijk have made a massive difference to the overall solidity of the team - currently holding the best defensive record in the Premier League - and, despite not being the same exhilarating attacking force, look like a side that could go all the way to titles both domestically and in Europe. There are a few clubs that stand in their way though.
It was in last season's Champions League semi-final where the impressive Oxlade-Chamberlain was seriously injured and this game has come a little too early for his long-awaited return. Out injured too are Joe Gomez and Naby Keita, both expected to be important parts in Klopp's jigsaw for the years ahead. As well as the front three, however, Bayern are going to have concerns over two Reds in particular, Andrew Robertson (less than €10m) and Trent Alexander-Arnold (youth product). The width and accuracy of crossing they have provided has been one of the biggest threats to rivals this campaign.
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