Jurgen Klopp proves Jamie Carragher and Liverpool fans wrong as brave call reaps reward
Liverpool moved into the Champions League final by beating Villarreal although their victory in the semi-final second leg was not straightforward.
Swathes of supporters clamoured for the same thing as they witnessed the Reds' Champions League semi-final advantage diminish.
Liverpool were not only two goals behind against Villarreal on the evening. They were not only level on aggregate. But they were being dominated by a Yellow Submarines side who'd been swatted aside with the utmost ease barely a week ago.
Persistent mistakes were rife. Misplaced passes were awash - even from the usually-immaculate Thiago Alcantara.
And two defensive lapses saw Villarreal get back level in the Champions League semi-final.
Liverpool have pulled off some huge European upsets in their famous history. They're synonymous with the club - yet faced being on the end of their own giant-killing that would have infamously been etched into Anfield folklore.
Calls from fans - and Carragher - were for Klopp to make two substitutes at the interval to change the tie.
Carragher wanted to see Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz to come on - with plenty concurring in place of Naby Keita and Diogo Jota.
Keita was enduring an evening to forget, while Jota couldn't get involved enough.
Indeed, Klopp heeded part of that advice.
It was Diaz brought on for Jota, with Henderson coming out for the second half with his shirt underneath his arm but not required.
Many wouldn't have agreed with Henderson being left on the bench.
But, in truth, it's why Klopp is one of the best in the world at what he does.
It's why he's now guided Liverpool to a third Champions League final and fourth of his managerial career.
By the time Henderson was brought on with 10 minutes remaining, fears of Liverpool crashing out of Europe's elite club competition were emphatically allayed.
Flights were already being booked to Paris for the final.
The visitors had not only got back into the game but turned things around. They commanded a 3-2 lead on the night and 5-2 on aggregate. The job was done courtesy of goals from Fabinho, Sadio Mane and a talismanic Diaz.
The Colombia international made all of the difference yet again. His guile and raw pace ensured Villarreal were pinned backed and the Reds wrestled control of the game. A truly inspirational January signing.
What's more, Keita improved drastically. He was poor in the opening 45 minutes but atoned for his errors in the second period.
The midfielder notched himself an assist, while he made five clearances and one interception - as well as winning three tackles, four ground duels and two aerial duels.
As gaps appeared more frequently with Villarreal tiring, he displayed the thrust to burst into them and take advantage.
It was a brave call from Klopp. Calling upon Henderson would have been what most would have done in that situation.
But now Liverpool find themselves on the cusp of a seventh European Cup. All eyes turn to Paris for the final.