Not that Liverpools euphoria at the final whistle was, in any way, on behalf of the other English sides who will make up half of Fridays draw. Liverpool have their own priorities, as five-times winners of this competition, and it is not often that Bayern are made to look so ordinary, especially on their own ground. Yes, the evidence is irrefutable that Bayern are on the wane, epitomised by the deterioration in the once-formidable Franck Ribéry, and that the 28-times Bundesliga champions might have gone stale, perhaps as a consequence of all their repetitive domestic success. Yet that should not deflect from Liverpools performance on a night when Klopps players defended stoutly, were clinical with their chances and, more than anything, never showed a flicker of trepidation.
Read more Perhaps, on reflection, Bayern will regret not being more adventurous in the first leg. It was premature to celebrate on the pitch, as they did at Anfield, on the back of a goalless draw. The whole point of the away-goals rule is to encourage teams to attack. Bayern opted for ploys of conservatism on Merseyside whereas Liverpool were far more ambitious with their approach to being on foreign soil, culminating in two goals from Sadio Mané, one from Virgil van Dijk and Klopp reflecting afterwards on a big, big step for us – one, he said, that put Liverpool back on the landscape of elite European football.
In the vertiginous rows of seats where Liverpools followers were congregated, there must have been a wonderful sense of deja vu, too. There will be plenty of Liverpool supporters who remember what happened in 1981, at the old Olympiastadion, when a goalless first leg at Anfield was followed by a 1-1 draw that put Bob Paisleys team into the final. This time, Liverpool posted an even more impressive result – though it is also worth noting that when the game was poised at 1-1 there were only sporadic moments when Bayern threatened to change the complexion of the evening.
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Liverpool, on the other hand, showed real belief and Manés opening goal, 26 minutes into the first half, meant Bayern would need at least two of their own to save themselves. They did manage one, via an own goal from Joël Matip, but Klopp made the point afterwards that he could not recall too many other occasions when Liverpool were endangered. Van Dijks goal came after 69 minutes and when Mané scored his second of the night their supporters could see out the remainder of the game by happily going through their victory songs. Their team were even applauded off by some of the Bayern fans close to the tunnel.
For Mané in particular, it was a triumphant night. Arguably Liverpools most effective attacker since the turn of the year, these were his 18th and 19th goals of the season. Ten have come in the last 10 games and his first one here was a wonderfully composed finish once he had controlled a long ball forward, swivelled away from Rafinha and sidestepped Manuel Neuer to create the shooting opportunity. Neuers decision to run out to the edge of his penalty area was a poor one, leaving the goalkeeper stranded, but there were still plenty of Bayern players who could have covered if Manés chipped shot did not have the right leverage. Mané pitched it towards the far corner and the ball floated delicately inside the post, almost in slow motion.
Bayern Munich are very much in transition, with an older generation finally making way for younger talents. Franck Ribery had a disappointing night on what may well have been his final Champions League game for Bayern Munich. Manuel Neuer was at fault for Liverpools opener and Robert Lewandowski has now failed to score in his last seven European knock-out ties.
Read more Behind that goal there was a huge banner – among the derogatory ones making it clear that Bayerns supporters are not admirers of either VAR or Uefa – that read: Kampfen Munich. For a while, that is exactly what Liverpools opponents seemed willing to do: fight. Bayern are simply not the type to crumple and they were level seven minutes before half-time when Serge Gnabry managed to get behind Andrew Robertson for the first time. Gnabrys low cross-shot was fired in from the right and Matip inadvertently turned the ball past Alisson from close range.
Those foundations seemed set in stone when Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund met at Wembley in 2013. A new generation of Bundesliga coaches drove German domestic football to new heights with a new, exciting brand of football — quicker, stronger, faster and more aggressive.
The problem for Bayern had nothing to do with a lack of endeavour. It was a lack of ideas, of inspiration, of wit and creativity. Liverpool were compact and organised, despite losing their captain Jordan Henderson, with an ankle injury. Trent Alexander-Arnold, in particular, gave Ribéry little space to dispel the theory that the winger is no longer the devastatingly brilliant footballer he once was. Van Dijk had the better of Robert Lewandowski while James Rodríguez could not influence the night. Bayern might have membership in Europes elite but, over the two legs, they looked like a team that might have to be reinvented.
Neuers performance, which also saw a nervy double-fisted punch spin off his glove in the second half, brought back memories of Sven Ulreichs high profile Champions League gaffe in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid a little short of a year ago. It also came in front of the watching Joachim Löw, who dared to show his face at the Allianz Arena barely a week after ending the glittering international careers of three Bayern favorites. That bewildering gesture hasnt won Löw any friends in Bavaria, but Neuer can consider himself very lucky not to be among those whose international careers have been halted.
Van Dijks goal came from a corner on the right, swung over by James Milner, and the centre-halfs ability to climb higher than his opponents, despite the close proximity of Mats Hummels and Javi Martínez, before aiming a downward header inside Neuers near post.
Bayern needed something spectacular to turn the game upside down. It was beyond them and Liverpools victory was assured in the 84th minute when Mohamed Salah, who improved as the game wore on, flicked over a cross with the outside of his left boot for Mané to head in their third goal.
Its the first time in a decade that Premier League sides will make up exactly half of the last eight