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 By Steven Kelly

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah gripped by homecoming nerves in Champions League semifinal

Liverpool have advanced to the Champions League final for the first time since 2007 after a 7-6 aggregate win over Roma.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp credits his team's mentality and character following their 7-6 aggregate win over Roma.

Liverpool reached their first Champions League final in 11 years, but once again made it far harder than it needed to be in a 7-6 aggregate win over Roma after falling 4-2 in the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday. Throughout the tie, two iffy penalties and an own goal made it closer than it really was.

Positives

They did excellently to pick off Roma when the home side had to push forward and easily got the goals they needed to make the result secure -- but only just.

Negatives

Once again defence and game management emerged as the Reds' only real weaknesses. It's almost as though retaining possession is just too boring for them and a Roma side not on their level were allowed to come back into it.

Manager rating out of 10

7 -- The team, for better or worse, is what it is and where it is thanks to Jurgen Klopp. Very few teams could go through after conceding six goals, but Liverpool managed it because few teams can handle this exceptional attack.

Player ratings: (1-10; 10=best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Loris Karius, 7 -- Catching was mostly excellent, and considering Roma put in plenty of crosses, it needed to be. Poor effort for the hosts' second, when he palmed a shot straight to danger man Edin Dzeko, but other saves were needed. Lucky not to concede a penalty, too.

DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 7 -- Early nerves were understandable but kept his head and passed well throughout, always supporting his forwards. Roma focussed most of their pressure on his side of the pitch, and with support from midfield he just about managed to do his job.

DF Dejan Lovren, 6 -- Not a great clearance for Roma's first, but he was unlucky to hit James Milner in the face with his clearance for an own goal. Good on crosses and clearances but couldn't get near Dzeko all night and gave away a dangerous free kick, for which he was rightly booked.

DF Virgil van Dijk, 7 -- A mostly calm display, but he has lapsed into the Liverpool habit of continually searching for a killer pass when quiet, methodical possession could have thwarted the Italians' comeback. Great on headed clearances once again.

DF Andrew Robertson, 8 -- The youngster charged forward on every occasion and created one or two great opportunities that should have been converted. Roma attacks rarely came down the left, but credit the Scot's current form because they probably viewed that as a waste of time.

Mohamed Salah in action during Liverpool's Champions League defeat to Roma.
Homecoming nerves got the better of Mohamed Salah upon his return to Rome.

MF Jordan Henderson, 7 -- Good captain's display. Rarely did anything flashy but was doing all the right things Liverpool needed to ease pressure and lower the temperature of the game. Unfortunately, few of his teammates did the same.

MF James Milner, 7 -- Unlucky own goal but did his work diligently and effectively. Carried the ball forward well late on, but others were tiring by then and could not take advantage.

MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 8 -- An away goal at last for the Dutchman, and what a time to get it. Did his usual hard work and tried to protect Alexander-Arnold when Roma began putting on pressure. In the end, his goal put Liverpool through.

FW Sadio Mane, 9 -- Missed big chances in the first leg but took just a few minutes to get a goal on Wednesday when it truly mattered. Lots of intelligent running and dribbling, he was a constant thorn in defenders' sides. Probably shouldn't have come off, as Roma just couldn't cope with him.

FW Mohamed Salah, 6 -- A rare off night for the Egyptian as a long season and homecoming nerves seemed to take their toll. Rarely shot well, though he tried more often than he probably should have, and didn't link up well with others. He's done so much to get Liverpool into this final that it was about time others covered for him.

FW Roberto Firmino, 7 -- Handed the ball on a plate to set up Mane's opener but was still exceptionally calm at such an early stage of this vital game. Did his normal work but just couldn't summon enough guile to help make the game secure and tired late on.

Substitutes

DF Ragnar Klavan, NR -- Brought on to stiffen up the defence but nearly caused havoc by conceding a very harsh penalty. Luckily it was the last action of a tense game.

FW Dominic Solanke, NR -- Klopp needed fresh legs to take the ball into the corners and waste time, but Solanke rarely got the chance.

DF Nathaniel Clyne, NR -- Put on to waste precious seconds and took no part in the action.

Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC's Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter @SteKelly198586.

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