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Published: 22:07 | 14/4/16

Lovren heads Liverpool into Europa semi

Defender completes unlikely comeback

A header in injury time from Dejan Lovren sealed a remarkable comeback from Liverpool as they beat Borussia Dortmund 4-3 at Anfield to progress to the Europa League semi-finals 5-4 on aggregate.

Having been two goals down within nine minutes and then also needing three goals to progress after Marco Reus made it 3-1 on the night, Jurgen Klopp’s side looked like they had left too much to do.

After drawing 1-1 in Germany a week ago, early goals from Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang put the 1997 European champions in firm charge of the tie.

Divock Origi pulled one back not long after the break before Reus’ clinical finish seemed to put the game beyond the Merseysiders’ reach.

However, in an entertaining and very open encounter, Philippe Coutinho cut the arrears to one with a low drive before Mamadou Sakho’s header levelled the scores on the night.

Dortmund looked like they were going to hold on before Lovren’s late winner sent Liverpool into Friday’s semi-final draw.

With the atmosphere turned up to fever pitch after an impeccably observed minute’s silence for the victims of the Hillsborough disaster, it didn’t take long for the visitors to quieten the home support; Coutinho’s sloppy pass was pounced on and Dortmund drove forward in numbers and at pace, the ball eventually coming to Aubameyang whose volley was well saved by Simon Mignolet but Mhkitaryan was on hand to sweep home the rebound.

On nine minutes the Bundesliga side doubled their lead, Liverpool again guilty of wasting possession, Reus picking up the ball in his half before embarking on a surging run which saw him pass three opponents, the attacker then threading through a defence-splitting pass to Aubameyang who fired his finish into the roof of the net.

The hosts were stunned by the early Dortmund blitz but gradually began to create chances to get back into the tie with Origi’s movement making space in the box, however, the Belgian was off target with a header and a first-time effort which skidded across goal while Adam Lallana had an embarrassing fresh air effort from 12 yards out.

While they were less than airtight at the back, Dortmund remained a big threat on the counter and on 31 minutes Aubameyang should have killed the game as a contest but the forward somehow missed a tap-in, Mignolet’s slight touch on the cross perhaps just putting him off at the key moment.

Minutes later the same player sliced wide from 10 yards with a clear look at goal while Origi headed over from six yards out under pressure at the other end.

Liverpool needed an early goal in the second half to have any chance of turning it around and they had a lifeline when Origi finally got his reward three minutes after the restart, toe-poking past Roman Weidenfeller to halve the deficit.

Dortmund hit back on 57 minutes when Mats Hummels drove out from the back before sending a delightful inch-perfect pass in behind Nathaniel Clyne which Reus ran onto and finished clinically first time into the far corner.

Liverpool gave themselves hope again nine minutes later when Coutinho cut inside before unleashing a powerful low strike which flew past Weidenfeller.

The unlikely comeback took a big step towards being realised when Sakho nodded in from close range with 13 minutes to play after the Dortmund defence failed to clear a corner, setting up a grandstand finish.

Dortmund looked like they had done enough to see the game out but in stoppage time substitute Daniel Sturridge did superbly to send Milner in behind and the midfielder stood up a great ball to the back post which Lovren powered home to send the home crowd into raptures and Liverpool into the semi-finals.

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