Four English clubs in the two European football finals. Wow, who would ever have thought that would happen at the start of the week, let alone at the start of the season?
On Tuesday, Liverpool entered their semifinal against Barcelona with a mountain to climb before scoring four unanswered goals in the “Miracle of Anfield” to book their place in the final with a 4-3 aggregate win. Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum, only brought on for the second half, secured the unlikeliest of comebacks. Now, they will contest their second Champions League final in succession, aiming to claim a sixth European Cup.
A day later Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool’s opponents in the June 1 Champions League final in Madrid, looked dead and buried after Hakim Ziyech put Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 up at home on the night, and 3-0 up on aggregate with his 35th minute goal. But a second half hat-trick from Lucas Moura, which included a third well into injury time, ensured Spurs have a shot at winning their first Champions League title.
On to the Europa League on Thursday, and Chelsea had to dig deep to win 4-3 on penalties to book their spot in the May 29 final in Baku, Azerbaijan after their semifinal finished deadlocked at 2-2 on aggregate against Eintracht.
Of the four English clubs, Arsenal fans were the most confident of a spot in the final, carrying a 3-1 advantage into the second leg of their semifinal against Valencia. After an early hiccup, the Gunners never looked back and a hat-trick from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang gives manager Unai Emery a chance of winning his fourth Europa League title as manager later this month.
If you look at the top five of the English Premier League heading into this weekend’s final round of matches, four of them could still end up with silverware this season.
City already have the Community Shield (yes, it doesn’t really count) and League Cup trophies. Had Chelsea beaten City in either of those, then all five of the top five could have still walked off with a trophy. City slip up tomorrow, and Liverpool win the league title – yes, unlikely, but not improbable, especially if you take into account their triumph over Barcelona. Then Spurs beat Liverpool in the Champions League and Arsenal or Chelsea take Europa League honours – makes it four clubs with a trophy.
That alone must make it tough to be a fan of Manchester United, who finish empty-handed.