LIVERPOOL – Jordan Henderson insisted Liverpool’s “special” team spirit was the key to their “unbelievable” Champions League semi-final triumph against Barcelona on Tuesday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side staged one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history as they stormed to a 4-0 second leg victory that clinched a 4-3 aggregate success at a jubilant Anfield.
Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum made Liverpool only the third team in the history of the European Cup to overturn a three-goal deficit in the semi-finals.
The Reds will face Ajax or Tottenham in their second successive Champions League final after losing last year’s showpiece against Real Madrid.
And Liverpool captain Henderson claimed his squad’s togetherness ensured they never doubted they could beat the odds against Lionel Messi and his star-studded team.
“Unbelievable! I don’t think many people gave us a chance. We knew it would be difficult, but still possible,” Henderson told BT Sport.
“The belief we have in the changing room is amazing. We knew we could do something special at Anfield. Look at the fans and the lads – this is a special night. This is up there with the best.
“We wanted to start fast. We got an early goal, which helped. It wasn’t just the goal, it was getting after them and putting them under pressure.
“We knew if we showed personality and heart, then we’d have a chance.
Dutch midfielder Wijnaldum, who came on as a halftime substitute to destroy the fragile Barca defence, said Liverpool always believed they could fight back despite the first leg score-line because they had played well in the Camp Nou for long periods.
“After the game in Spain, we were confident we could score four at home. Once again we showed that everything is possible in football,” he said.
“We believe it from the start. People from outside, they thought it was not possible, but we still managed to do this.”
Wijnaldum revealed he was frustrated to have been left on the bench after he started the first leg, and he channelled that anger into his dynamic second half display.
THIS TEAM!! ❤️❤️ pic.twitter.com/J6SwDebVde— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 7, 2019
“I was really angry at the manager that he put me on the bench, but I had to do something to help the team when I came on,” he added.
Wijnaldum was only on the pitch because left back Andrew Robertson was forced off after taking a kick on the leg from Barca’s Luis Suarez.
Replays suggested Suarez may have left his leg in a position to catch Robertson, although no foul was given.
Asked about the clash with Suarez, who had also been involved in a clash with the Scotland defender in the first leg, Robertson took the opportunity to taunt his rival.
“Who’s going to the final? We are. That’s all that matters,” he grinned.
“Gini went on and scored two. I don’t care right now.
“I’ve said so many times this season, but what a team. We believe. People wrote us off. But we believed if we got off to a good start, we could do it.”
Liverpool’s victory was clinched by a clever corner from Trent Alexander-Arnold, who appeared to fake leaving a corner before quickly taking it and catching Barca flat-footed as Origi fired home.
“I think it was just instinctive. It was one of those moments where you see the opportunity,” Alexander-Arnold said of his quick thinking.