Jurgen Klopp insisted his Liverpool side overcame the best team in the world after second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino sealed an authoritative Champions League quarter-final win against Manchester City.
Needing a considerable feat of escapology following last week's 3-0 first-leg defeat at Anfield, City led inside two minutes through Gabriel Jesus as the "thunderstorm" Klopp foresaw in his pre-match news conference came to pass.
Bernardo Silva hit the post and Leroy Sane had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside but Liverpool held out, leaving Salah and Firmino to clinically punish a flagging City after the break.
That did not mean Klopp was about to waver in his admiration of old adversary Pep Guardiola and his side, who have now suffered three of their seven defeats to Liverpool this season.
"I really think they are the best team in the world at the moment. That's how it is but I knew we could beat them," Klopp told a post-match news conference.
"That's doesn't make us a better team – that's just football, that's the cool thing about the game.
"It will be difficult in the semis, 100 per cent. We are now in the semis. First of all we should enjoy the moment because it's obviously a while ago that Liverpool was in the semis and that I was in the semis
"Now we're together there and it's quite a cool moment."
3 – Liverpool are the first team to beat a side managed by Pep Guardiola three times in a single season. Scourge. April 10, 2018
Liverpool's attacking prowess bookended the tie but it was the defensive assurance they produced in wildly varying circumstances at Anfield and the Etihad Stadium that gave Klopp – a 2013 finalist with Borussia Dortmund – further reasons to be cheerful.
"I liked the second half at Anfield a little bit more than the first half here," he said. But yes, we managed the situation. The boys get more used to situations like that.
"We are still in a development phase but already a good team.
"The boys found a solution. We had two or three moments in the first half, the best one in the last minute [when Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain shot over].
"It was easy for me to see the development of the game. We were already through the whirlwind
"It was the worst start. The question was already answered – they can score goals and it will be different
"Pep will not be happy – I didn't see it [the Sane incident] so far. Bit over two games I really think it was deserved. Against Manchester City we did numbers that are usually not possible."
While City's attempt to upset the odds ran out of steam, a sensation came to pass in the Italian capital as Roma beat Barcelona 3-0 to stun LaLiga's leaders on away goals, blowing the semi-final draw wide open.
10 – Liverpool have reached the semi-final stage of the European Cup/Champions League for the 10th time – the only English team to have appeared in more are Man Utd (12). Stalwarts. April 10, 2018
It was another element on a stirring evening that Klopp struggled to believe was credible.
"I walked up the stairs and somebody told me. I thought it was a joke," he added.
"Not that I don't respect Roma – the opposite, they are a fantastic football team. They lost Mo Salah and are in the semis, that's quite a big thing."
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