Champions League: Liverpool advances to final, despite loss to Roma

May 2 (UPI) — Liverpool clinched a spot in the Champions League final against Real Madrid, despite losing 4-2 to AS Roma Wednesday at Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy.

The Reds advanced 7-6 on aggregate goals. Liverpool beat Roma 5-2 in the first leg of the semifinals on April 24 at Anfield in Liverpool, England.

Sadio Mane puts the Reds up early. Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino dribbled down the middle of the pitch, before finding Mane in the box to his left. Mane ripped a shot past Alisson Becker in the ninth minute for the game’s first goal.

But Roma got even in the 15th minute, capitalizing on a Liverpool error. Forward Stephan El Shaarawy headed a cross into the Liverpool box on the play. His touch went toward Patrik Schick at the front of the goal. Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren tried to clear the ball, but his strike hit the head of teammate James Milner. The ricochet bounced back and beat Liverpool goalie Loris Karius, tying the score.

Roma needed three more goals to advance at that point, but Liverpool wasn’t finished scoring.

Liverpool sent in a corner kick in the 25th minute. The ball bounced around in the box, until forward Edin Dzeko headed the ball backwards. Georginio Wijnaldum collected the deflection and flicked the ball past Becker for a 2-1 advantage.

Dzeko made up for his folly in the second half.

El Shaarawy blasted a shot at Karius in the 52nd minute, but the attempt was denied. Dzeko stood at the far post and followed up the deflection with Roma’s second score.

Liverpool appeared to get away with a handball in the 63rd minute, but referees did not blow the whistle during the play.

Aleksander Kolarov assisted Radja Nainggolan to get the lead for Roma. The defender played a ball to the midfielder in the 86th minute. Nainggolan ran onto the offering, drilling a shot from about 25 yards out. The attempt drilled the left goalpost and bounced into the net behind Karius.

Roma still needed several scores to advance at that point in the match. Nainggolan added another score on a penalty kick in stoppage time, but the Reds denied another score, clinching a spot in the Champions League final against Madrid.

Liverpool and Madrid face off in the Champions League final at 2:45 p.m. May 26 at Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex in Kiev, Ukraine.

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