Liverpool’s road to the 2022 Champions League final: who did they beat?
Liverpool can win the European title for the seventh time in their history when they take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.
In what is their 10th appearance in the showpiece game, Liverpool face Real Madrid this weekend in a Champions League final that offers the Merseysiders the chance to be crowned European champions for the seventh time.
Saturday’s clash in Paris rounds off a campaign that began with a record-breaking group stage for Liverpool, and continued with three knockout ties from which the Reds progressed on the back of commanding first-leg performances.
Group stage: Liverpool make history
Drawn in Group B with AC Milan, Atlético Madrid and Porto, Liverpool breezed through to the knockout stages with two games to spare. Jürgen Klopp’s men won all six of their group games - a feat no other Premier League team had ever managed in the Champions League.
After starting out with an entertaining 3-2 home win over AC Milan, Liverpool then thumped Porto 5-1 at the Estádio do Dragao - the third time in a row they had scored four goals or more on the road against the Portuguese side. Porto’s team included Luis Díaz, who would later help steer Liverpool to the final.
Next up was a trip to the Spanish capital to play Atlético Madrid. The last time the teams had met, Atlético had beaten Liverpool in a dramatic last-16 tie in March 2020, but on this occasion a rather more straightforward night’s work looked in prospect for the Reds when they raced into a 2-0 lead inside 13 minutes. However, Atleti responded with an Antoine Griezmann’s double before half time - and it was only after Griezmann’s sending-off, shortly after the break, that Liverpool were able to wrest back control of the game. Mo Salah’s late penalty earned a fortunate win.
At home to Atlético on matchday four, Liverpool again benefited from a red card for Los Rojiblancos, who had Felipe dismissed in the first half. By that stage, the hosts were already 2-0 up, and 2-0 it remained. Having confirmed their qualification for the last 16, Liverpool then completed a perfect group stage with a 2-0 home victory over Porto, and a 2-1 win over Milan at the San Siro.
Last 16: Inter Milan 2-1 Liverpool
Liverpool were initially paired with Austrians RB Salzburg in the last 16, but embarrassing gaffes in the draw process forced UEFA into a redraw later the same day, and Klopp’s men instead got Italian champions Inter Milan.
In the first leg in Milan, late goals by Roberto Firmino and Salah gave Liverpool a 2-0 win, and left them with one foot firmly planted in the quarter-finals. But back at Anfield, their progress to the last eight was rather less serene than might have been expected. Indeed, when Inter’s Lautaro Martínez walloped a 30-yarder into Alisson’s top corner with an hour gone, the tie looked up for grabs. Two minutes later, though, Alexis Sánchez earned himself a silly second yellow to leave Inter down to 10 men, fatally undermining the visitors’ prospects of a comeback.
Quarter-finals: Benfica 4-6 Liverpool
In the quarter-finals, Portugal’s Benfica were beaten 3-1 in the first leg in Lisbon, as Liverpool again earned a sizeable advantage to take back to Anfield. Ibrahima Konaté, Sadio Mané and Díaz scored for the Reds, Darwin Núñez pulling one back for the home team.
After an hour of the return leg, the hosts again found themselves 3-1 up, Firmino hitting a double after Konaté had once more found the net. Liverpool’s 6-2 aggregate advantage was cut to 6-4 thanks to late goals by Roman Yaremchuk and Núñez, but they held out to reach the semis, where they were drawn with Villarreal.
Semi-finals: Liverpool 5-2 Villarreal
Once again, Liverpool were dominant in the opening leg, a 2-0 Anfield win over the Spaniards hardly doing justice to their superiority. Indeed, Villarreal’s performance led to a viral - and, frankly, ignorant - rant by Talksport pundit Jason Cundy, who branded the Groguets “pathetic” and a “disgrace to the Champions League”.
In the second leg in Spain, Villarreal promptly set about ramming Cundy’s words back down his throat: by the break, goals by Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin had levelled the tie for Unai Emery’s men. However, spurred on by half-time substitute Díaz, who scored one and provided key attacking thrust throughout the second 45, Liverpool managed to claw back the momentum. Fabinho and Mané also netted for the visitors, as they snuffed out Villarreal’s hopes of a memorable turnaround and set up a Champions League final date with Real Madrid.