Mo Salah: No Egyptian has screwed the Romans quite like this since Cleopatra was in her pomp

Jurgen Klopp is destined for greatness at Liverpool, a club which lauds and cherishes its most successful managers like no other.

He’s going to be up there with Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Joe Fagan, Kenny Dalglish and Rafa Benitez is the hyperactive German.

This, like so many other Liverpool matches this season, the first leg of a Champions League semi-final, was all about Egyptian goal machine Mo Salah.

The Pharaoh Across the Mersey is now heading not just for Anfield’s hall of fame but for genuine Ballon D’Or contention.

No Egyptian has screwed the Romans quite like this since Cleopatra was in her pomp.





But let’s not forget that Salah arrived at Liverpool having failed to make an impact at Chelsea and with a record at Roma which was decent, but never suggested anything like this extraordinarily prolific campaign.

You might like to imagine this had been nothing but the late blossoming of genius. But Klopp, who has dealt so masterfully with the loss of Philippe Coutinho, has allowed Salah to blossom.


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He is a motivator with few equals among managers and has clearly injected a major dose of confidence into Salah’s veins.

What Klopp does to lift his players at the club’s Melwood training complex, he also does to pump up the Anfield crowd.

He is a manic cheerleader, a proper man of the people, who seemed perfectly matched with Liverpool before he had even left Borussia Dortmund.



Salah’s two goals and two assists left Liverpool on the brink of their eighth European Cup final, with few now betting against a sixth triumph.

On this occasion, the managerial tactics hardly needed any true genius.

Well-directed long balls were fired over a leaden-footed Roma defence time after time after time.

A sluggish backline against Klopp’s greased-lightning boys is asking for serious trouble.

But that shouldn’t detract from what was one of the most remarkable European results achieved here.


 

Five goals in a Champions League semi-final is beyond all fantasy, even though Roma’s late rally means the tie is just about alive.

Throughout this season, Salah has profited from some excellent service from the team Klopp has built.

Now when he cuts inside from the right and triggers his left foot, it is a shock when he doesn’t score — as he failed to do just before last night’s avalanche of goals began.

One mischievous statistician had debunked the myth of the famous "Anfield effect" on European nights.




He discovered that home advantage made less difference to Liverpool’s results than those of any other major English club since the post-Heysel ban was lifted in 1990.

Yet it has still often felt a special place at the sharp end of European competition.

Last night was no different. If the atmosphere crackling around Anfield wasn’t inspiring Klopp’s men then it must have been some other kind of witchcraft.

Roma, the club and their eternal city, have a special place in Liverpool’s undeniable European history.

The Reds have won two of their five European Cups in the Italian capital.


Paisley, who rode a tank into Rome during the Second World War, led them to become the first English team to win the prize on foreign soil.

Then, thanks to Bruce Grobbelaar’s jelly legs, there was a penalty shoot-out victory over Roma in their own Olympic Stadium under Fagan in 1984.

Since the first-leg obliteration of Manchester City in the quarter- finals and then this favourable semi-final draw, there has been a sense of destiny about this Liverpool run.

Sure they are up against a side who wiped out a three-goal first-leg deficit against Barcelona last time around.

But lightning doesn’t strike twice and with even greater ferocity a second time.



After an early delay for a collapsing linesman’s flag, an injury which forced the early withdrawal of the in-form Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and an Aleksandar Kolarov long-ranger deflecting off a flapping Loris Karius onto the bar, Liverpool woke up.

The astonishing thing is that their goal tally could have been even more — Sadio Mane spooned two golden chances over and had one ruled out for offside.

Salah, who had just been denied by a decent stop from Allison, bent one in from just inside the area and then dinked one over the Brazilian keeper, who had been linked with Liverpool but probably never wants to see the place again after this.

After the break, Salah turned provider for Mane and then it was time for Roberto Firmino to apply salt to Roma’s wounds.

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