A moment in time

A moment in time: Liverpool’s 2016 Europa League final

It seems like a lifetime ago when Liverpool were regulars in the Europa League.

Before the days of the Reds making it to Champions League finals and knocking out European giants, Liverpool were very much a Europa League side this decade.

Aside from last year’s European final, Liverpool have competed four times in the Europa League since the 2010/11 season, and that includes the time Brendan Rodgers’ side crashed out of the Champions League group stage in 2014/15 to be placed in continents least favourite midweek competition.

A moment in time – Liverpool, 2016 Europa League final

But in Jurgen Klopp’s first season on Merseyside, the Reds managed to go all the way in the Europa League and reach their first European final in over nine years.

The route to the final was an entertaining one for Liverpool fans and neutrals alike. The Reds were drawn against their English rivals Manchester United in the Round of 16, and their second-leg quarter-final match against Borussia Dortmund remains one of the most dramatic games in the history of the competition.

A 3-1 aggregate win against Villarreal in the semis, and Liverpool were off to Basel to face off against the Europa League specialists, Sevilla, managed by now Arsenal boss Unai Emery.

With the La Liga side current holders of the trophy for the past two seasons and Klopp yet to get the best out of the Liverpool side he had at his disposal, Sevilla came into the final the favourites, which was why it was surprising when Daniel Sturridge put the Premier League side 1-0 up on the stroke of half-time.

But just like fans had already seen that season, it all went belly up shortly after the restart. Kevin Gameiro levelled the game just 17 seconds into the second half, and by the 70th minute Emery’s side were 3-1 up and three for the good in the number of Europa League titles they had won back-to-back.

The game is an interesting comparison to see just how far Liverpool have gone from that final. Of the players that started the game, only James Milner and Roberto Firmino have managed to remain vital first-team players in Klopp’s title-challenging side this season, with the likes of Kolo Toure, Martin Skrtel and Christian Benteke all long gone from the club.

Liverpool have come far since that night in Basel, and it won’t be long before Klopp and company are on the winning side of a European final.

Liverpool fans, was the Europa League defeat a turning point for the club? Let us know!

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