With a quiet persistence, however, more and more professional observers followed Wright's leadership in recent weeks. Not to say that Salah Messi – far from it – is equal or has reached or will reach. It is just that in some light, in certain points, it is possible to see in Salah a little of Messi's afterglow.
Although the idea has gained credibility, it still seems fantastic. And yet Salah does something every three days to give weight to the idea. Usually it is a target, one of those mesmerizing dribbles that were long Messi's hallmarks. But it was something different, something more important, to the Roma. Great players win games – not single-handedly, but by their own splendor. They bow and they organize competitions according to their will. No one does it better than Messi and Ronaldo. However, Salah came close to his old friends from Rome.
It was not only that he hit twice, Liverpool on his way to a five-goal lead that was not too long after he left the field, reducing a three-goal advantage. It's also not easy that he has twice hit so well: a precise shot from the edge of the penalty area, which flies Alisson, the goalkeeper of the Roma; a dainty chip – a Dink, really, there's no other word for it – after exchanging Quick Fire passes with Roberto Firmino. It's also not that he created two more at halftime: the first a simple finish for Sadio Mané, the second an identical chance for Firmino when Liverpool ran, and a win, for a while, turned into one Defeat.
It was instead the way he towered above the dominant figure on the field even when he was not near the ball.
Jürgen Klopps team had a great performance in the first 80 minutes as the Roma swayed and crumbled: Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum seem to be ubiquitous in midfield, fulfilling the old Pep Guardiola dictum "I get the ball, I play the ball Ball, I get the ball, I play the ball "; Firmino herself, scorer not only Liverpool fourth, but also fifth, a simple header from one corner, buzzing around Rome's neglected defender; Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson beat Liverpool's team into a bundle of pure energy.
But Salah noticed anyway, a magnet not only for the ball, but also for the eye, impossible to ignore, a danger as he stood still and put his hands in his long-sleeved jersey in the kind of dirty night that England's Northwest considered his specialty. He did what Messi and Ronaldo always did: he made it his game, his Champions League semi-final. More than anyone, he led Liverpool to the eighth European Cup final in Kiev on 26 May. At the highest level, under the brightest lights, he shone.
Roma could not rest while he was there, this player would recognize them, but he remained a mystery. He was admired in Italy during his two seasons there; The club reluctantly parted ways with him. James Pallotta, the owner of Roma, said he had "no choice" but to sell it. Monchi, the sports director of the Roma, has made it clear that the deal had already been agreed before the takeover.
Still, they knew he was fast, and they knew he was creative, and they knew he could be more. But much more, a striker of such deadliness – and here's that comparison again – scoring at a rate that many had accepted only for Messi and Ronaldo? Can score 43 goals in 47 games? No wonder all these warnings were worth nothing. This is not the Salah the Roma remember. This salah is something different, something more.
That does not mean that the Roma will be without hope for the return leg next Wednesday in the Italian capital. "Those who do not believe in the comeback could also stay at home, fans or players," said Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco after the game.
There is reason to believe. Liverpool, who led 5-0 in the 80th minute, was through. five minutes later, it had conceded twice – an attempt by Edin Dzeko and a penalty, fought by James Milner and Diego Perotti – and Anfield, previously almost delirious, seemed worried, annoyed. Liverpool could, perhaps he should have scored more than five points, a waste that could prove to be a haunt.
And of course the Roma has done that before. In the quarter-finals, the team recovered after the first leg of the 4-1 lead, defeating Barcelona 3-0 and advanced before a shooting Stadio Olimpico. Messi himself was not enough to save a team that even Klopp happy, is Liverpool's superior.
Klopp does not have Messi to report next week. He only has Salah; he only has the imitation. If Roma can stop him, there is a chance. That's a pretty big though.
Continue reading the main story