Football/Soccer

Armchair Reporter: It's hard to beat that Lovren feeling

Dejan Lovren rose like a tin of red salmon from the Mersey to head home Liverpool's winner against Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night  
Kevin Farrell

MIRACULOUS conclusions in televised sport are in danger of becoming common as muck these days. Yet seeing the joy untold of one competitor set against the toe-curling meltdown of another will always keeps us hardwired to that box in the corner/on the wall.

Last Sunday night we had Jordan Spieth turning into Stan Laurel while gifting Danny Willett his green jacket, thanks to the biggest shambles seen around the 12th since Drumcree ’95. Come Thursday, Liverpool’s bouncebackability at an emotionally-charged Anfield offered yet another treat for the armchairati.

If anyone was unsure about what Europa League quarter-final bragging rights for Klopp’s strutting new squeeze over Klopp’s smarting ex meant to the fans, a brief ‘third eye’ web clip soon surfaced that some extremely harsh tweeters suggested might need reviewed by the Vatican’s Dubious Miracles Committee.

As centre-half Dejan Lovren rose like a (tin of) red salmon from the Mersey to plant home James Milner’s cross in squeaky-bum time to seal the 4-3 win and a magical aggregate triumph over Borussia Dortmund, one patron in the disabled fans’ section behind the net went absolutely ballistic.

Surfing the vibe from Lovren’s last-ditch heroics, out he soared from his wheelchair like Bond, James Bond from an Aston Martin sunroof. And who could really blame the bloke?  

With Klopp himself also bounding about the place as the human incarnation of a spaniel with chronic worms and two butcher’s bones, these were unprecedented scenes at the thick end of BT Sport Europe’s coverage. 

The shell-shocked Dortmund players, meanwhile, had the pained cut of men who’d left the bath running since their drawn home leg. Given that the tie had been played on the eve of the 27th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, the victory for Liverpool - thanks in no small part to the energy from their 12th man - was both poignant and fitting. It was one, mind you, that would seem unlikely just nine minutes after kick-off.

Commentator Darren Fletcher had referenced a raft of great European nights of yore under Anfield’s lights by way of intro. And the Kop’s famous anthem – louder and longer on the night that was in it - welcomed both teams into a crackling red-hot cauldron that would have tested the most fancy of pacemakers, with or without Gerry.

Co-commentator Michael Owen, the greatest reason to salute the inventor of the mute button, then blahed in trademark monotone without a second’s succour, albeit venturing that this could possibly be Liverpool’s night.

A fourth minute opener from Henrikh Mkhitaryan (let’s call him Henry McIntyre, Michael) quickly followed by a second from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (nice try, Michael) had Fletch’s sidekick backtracking like Mamadou Sakho, who was more like Bambi than Baresi at this point.

‘David O’Regan’s’ toe-poke moments after half-time brought a glimmer of hope before ‘Marco Royce’ made it 3-1 to the visitors. Then came the bedlam. Coutinho. Sakho. Then Lovren’s header from the heavens which sent Anfield into a frenzied blur beyond the Kop’s wildest dreams.

The redeemed Sakho dedicated the miracle to “the whole Liverpool country”, while the dapper Macca McManaman had to be peeled off the studio rafters in between looking very capable of selling you a reliable used car at any given lull.

“A step closer to a trophy and a Champions League place...” offered Des Kelly pitchside to Jurgen Klopp.

“Don’t you give me that sh*t!’” offered Klopp back to Kelly.

The big German is obviously keen to play it down. But with a bit of luck the Reds can overcome Spanish behemoth Villarreal on their way to winning European soccer’s Christy Ring Cup on penalties some night next month in Basel – the pharmaceutical hub of Switzerland.

Hopefully the excited Kloppites have calmed down without the need for quality calmers by then.

Football/Soccer

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