IT was Divock Origi and Gini Wijnaldum who pulled off the most extraordinary win in the history of Liverpool Football Club.
Not Mo Salah, last season’s Footballer of the Year, who is on target to retain the Premier League Golden Boot.
He was up in the stands because of injury, wearing a T-shirt saying “Never Give Up”. Likewise Liverpool’s first-choice striker Roberto Firmino.
It was the squad players who won it and somehow that is typical of this ridiculously-good side engineered and inspired by Jurgen Klopp.
Virgil van Dijk has won the PFA Player of the Year award this year, too, but it wasn’t about the big Dutchman either.
It was all about a team spirit the like of which has rarely been witnessed on any football pitch.
When unsung Belgian striker Origi was thrown on at Newcastle on Saturday night after Salah’s injury, the hearts of any unbelieving Liverpool supporters must have sunk.
But Origi headed the winner on Tyneside, then opened the scoring here and lashed home the remarkable winner after a stroke of quick thinking from Trent Alexander-Arnold.
And Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum, who arrived as a half-time sub after Andy Robertson was kicked off the park by returning bogeyman Luis Suarez, struck twice within ten minutes of his arrival to make the improbable seem suddenly likely.
SLOPPY, ARROGANT BARCELONA
It was Liverpool’s great captain Graeme Souness who recently said that tactical nuances and niceties mean nothing in any game of football unless you get to the ball first.
And his old club proved him right in spectacular fashion in this Champions League semi-final as Barcelona were embarrassed by the infinitely superior desire of Klopp’s men.
However magnificent Liverpool were, Barca were dozy, sloppy, complacent and arrogant.
They chucked away a 3-0 first-leg deficit in last year’s quarter-final against Roma and they did the same again here.
And it had so much to do with the fact Liverpool simply wanted every ball more than them.
The Reds head to their ninth European Cup final as favourites to win it for a sixth time against either Tottenham or Ajax in Madrid on June 1.
But how they enjoyed their underdog status here. Men like Origi and Wijnaldum and James Milner, shunted from midfield to left-back when Robertson went off, upstaged Lionel Messi.
But of course, the Reds are masters of European comebacks…
Klopp’s great triumph at Liverpool, as it was when he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles with Borussia Dortmund, is he builds teams so much stronger than the sums of their parts and imbues them with a superhuman spirit.
This is no classic Barca side. If the greatest player of all time, Messi, has an off-day, as he did last night, then they look distinctly ordinary.
They strolled their way to another La Liga title. But after switching off they could not switch on again in a tie they believed was already won.
But they should have been warned by Liverpool’s display in the first leg, when the 3-0 deficit was something of a travesty — only the majesty of Messi had been the difference.
Liverpool had effectively been hit by thundercrackers twice in five nights.
Messi’s glorious free-kick in the Nou Camp, then the Vinny Kompany banger which earned Manchester City their win against Leicester and leaves Klopp’s men trailing in the title race before Sunday’s climax.
But of course, the Reds are masters of European comebacks, most famously their 2005 miracle in Istanbul, and also here against St Etienne, Olympiakos and Borussia Dortmund.
And this topped the lot — 3-0 down against the champions of Spain, with two of their famous front three sidelined.
Klopp had clearly decided that the only way to tackle such a challenge was to intimidate and rattle their illustrious visitors.
And the ploy worked first when Robertson enraged Messi by ruffling the great man’s hair after a tussle between the two.
That act of impertinence seemed pretty minor once the Liverpool challenges started flying in — Fabinho was late on Suarez and Jordan Henderson heavy on Sergio Busquets, while Milner caught Suarez.
The Uruguayan was once a great favourite here. They backed him when he bit Chelsea’s Branislav Ivanovic and when he was accused of racially abusing Patrice Evra.
But there was no trace of lost love waiting for him on his first return to Anfield, five years after his exit, with the locals telling him to go forth and fornicate in no uncertain terms.
Barca’s unease showed when Jordi Alba was guilty of a dozy backward which let in Sadio Mane, who fed Henderson.
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When the skipper’s shot was pushed out by Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Origi pounced for his second big goal in as many matches.
Barca had their chances but they were not sharp enough in front of goal and after Wijnaldum shot straight through Ter Stegen, then headed another two minutes later, the momentum seemed unshiftable.
Alexander-Arnold made Barcelona look stupid with the quickly-taken corner that left a slumbering defence on their knees.
And then it was down to Origi, suddenly the most famous understudy in world football, to do the rest.