What a finish, what a response. Firmino only came on with 20 minutes to go. There was doubt he would play at all after a wayward finger from Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen necessitated a trip to Moorfield Eye Hospital at the weekend.
As it was, Jurgen Klopp kept him on the bench until Daniel Sturridge had run his course. His impact from there was remarkable.
Liverpool looked to have surrendered the win when Mohamed Salah gave the ball away, and Paris St Germain equalised. It was a reminder, if there was any need, of how hard it will be to tread a repeat path to this tournament’s final again.
An undeserved late equaliser was notice of the rarified atmosphere. When loose play lets in a player of Neymar’s quality, and he can give the ball to Kylian Mbappe, goals often result. That is what occurred late in the second-half and Jurgen Klopp’s face told the story. He knew they should have been comfortable. He knows he had the better team.
Yet Firmino delivered what Liverpool deserved. He won the header from the corner, he picked up the scraps after Virgil van Dijk had recycled the loose ball, striking is beautifully past Alphonse Areola. He celebrated with a hand over his eye. It probably won’t catch on.
MATCH FACTS AND STATS
Liverpool: Alisson 6.5, Alexander-Arnold 7, Gomez 6.5, Van Dijk 7, Robertson 7, Milner 8.5, Wijnaldum 8, Henderson 8, Salah 6.5 (Shaqiri 85), Sturridge 7 (Firmino 71), Mane 7 (Fabinho 90+3.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Keita, Moreno, Matip.
Goals: Sturridge 30, Milner 36, Firmino 90+1
Bookings: Van Dijk
Manager: Jurgen Klopp 8
PSG: Areola 7, Meunier 7.5, Kimpembe 6, Thiago Silva 6.5, Bernat 6, Rabiot 5.5, Marquinhos 6, Di Maria 7 (Choupo-Moting 79), Mbappe 7.5, Cavani (Draxler 79) 5, Neymar 6.
Subs not used: Cibois, Kehrer, Diarra, Nkunku, N’Soki.
Goals: Meunier 40, Mbappe 82
Manager: Thomas Tuchel 6.5
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir 7.
For the majority of the match, Liverpool had overshadowed the Paris St Germain of Neymar, Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria. They dominated the first-half, controlled most of the second and could have scored more. PSG? Both of their goals came very much against the run of play, and most of the second-half spent chasing the game was a crashing disappointment. It was Liverpool, not them, who first had the ball in the net but Daniel Sturridge was ruled to have fouled goalkeeper Alphonse Areola before Salah tapped the ball into an unguarded net.
It is the intensity that sets Liverpool apart on European nights like these. Paris St Germain are not the first opponents, and will certainly not be the last, to ensure a passage of play when they simply cannot contain them. On this occasion it came roughly half an hour in when Liverpool scored twice in six minutes, and PSG seemed completely rattled by the levels of energy and determination they faced.