BARCELONA: Liverpool earned a shock 3-0 win over Manchester City to put one foot in the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday, while Barcelona beat Roma 4-1 in the other quarterfinal first leg clash. Three goals in a 19 minute spell in the first half helped Liverpool earn a stunning result at Anfield, although an injury to top-scorer Mohamed Salah is a worry for Juergen Klopp’s side.
Roberto Firmino set up Salah at the end of a breakaway for the opening goal after 12 minutes, before Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain hammered home the second from outside the area eight minutes later.
Sadio Mane headed in from Salah’s cross in the 31st minute, but the Egyptian star had to be replaced shortly after half-time with an apparent groin injury, while skipper Jordan Henderson is suspended for the second leg after being booked.
“We lose one player to injury and another, the captain, to a yellow card so it does not feel good,” said Klopp. “Mo said he feels good but we will have to see about that.
“(The) first half was brilliant. It was how football should look. We knew about the quality of City but also about our quality as well.
“If we could control the game better against a team like Man City and not give the ball away we would be closer to them in the league.”
Meanwhile at the Camp Nou, Barcelona ran out comfortable winners thanks to own goals from Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas, while Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez also struck.
Both Liverpool and Barcelona now have big leads to protect ahead of the second legs on next Tuesday.
Manchester City failed to register a single shot on target during the match, with Pep Guardiola’s men thoroughly outplayed in the first half.
After the interval City improved and created some openings, with Gabriel Jesus seeing a goal ruled out for offside, but Liverpool’s defence held firm and the Reds were able to celebrate one of the most impressive results in their history, against the Premier League leaders.
“We showed up from the beginning, we started with enormous personality but they scored a goal,” said Guardiola.
“We continued to play but they scored two more goals. It is tough.They had 10-15 minutes in the first half when they were better.
“We have to accept it and now we have United at home (in the league)and then Liverpool at home. We
see what happens. Of course it is difficult but we believe (we can come back).”
The coach was also upset about an incident before the game which saw City’s team bus attacked by some fans who threw flares and bottles at it.
“The bus is destroyed but I did not expect a prestigious club like Liverpool doing this kind of thing,” added Guardiola.
“It is not Liverpool, it is the people, but hopefully it does not happen again.”
Barcelona needed a slice of luck to see off Roma, who could have had a penalty after nine minutes when Nelson Semedo clipped Edin Dzeko in the area.
Ivan Rakitic hit the post before De Rossi diverted Andres Iniesta’s pass into his own goal in the 38th minute.
After the break Barcelona doubled their lead when Kostas Manolas scored another own goal under pressure from Samuel Umtiti.
It is the fifth own goal which Barcelona have benefited from in the competition this season, more than any other side in history in a single edition of the tournament.
Gerard Pique stabbed home the third from close range when Suarez had a shot saved, before Diego Perotti set up Dzeko to pull one back and give Roma hope.
However Suarez scored his first Champions League goal of the season in the 87th minute to restore Barcelona’s three-goal lead.
Defender Pique said it was not just fortune that has led to Barcelona benefiting from five own goals in the competition this season.
“It’s not just luck that we get own goals in our favour. Things happen for a reason,” said Pique.
“I think that if these goals go our way it’s because we press high,we push up in attack, the ball is in the opposition area more than usual in other teams’ matches.” — dpa