Liverpool lose 4-2 to Roma, advance to Champions League final on aggregate amid controversial referee decisions

The Champions League final is set, and it will be Real Madrid vs. Liverpool later this month in Kiev, Ukraine. Just a day after Real Madrid eliminated Bayern Munich in the semifinals, Liverpool did the same to Roma on Wednesday in a controversial match, setting up a gigantic clash in the final.

After beating Roma 5-2 in the first leg at Anfield a week ago, Liverpool went on the road to Rome and lost 4-2 but advanced 7-6 on aggregate in a scoreline that wasn't as close as it ended, but it could have been closer had Roma gotten its way with the officials. Here's how it went down:

Roma needed a fast start and didn't get it

The Italian club needed a 3-0 win or better to move on, and it would be critical to not allow Liverpool to score early. Welp, guess what Liverpool did? Radja Nainggolan's errant pass saw Roberto Firmino set up Sadio Mane for an unexpected, easy opener just nine minutes in:

A tough blow, and it now meant Roma needed four goals. It got one back thanks to an own goal from James Milner on 15 minutes, but 10 minutes later, Liverpool would go up 2-1 thanks to the attentive Georginio Wijnaldum.

That meant Roma would need four more goals just to force extra time. All it got was one. 52 minuets in Eden Dzeko scored in his fifth straight cup game to make it 2-2:

Massive errors by the referee?

On 62 minutes, with the match level at 2-2, Trent Alexander-Arnold blocked a shot with his hand clearly in the box. No penalty kick was given:

And that's a huge turning point in this match. A goal there from a penalty kick would have put Roma within two goals with a half an hour to play. There is no video assisted referee (VAR) in this year's Champions League, so it couldn't be reviewed, but it was clear as day that a handball should have been called. 

Earlier in the match Dzeko was also taken down in the box for what could have been a clear penalty, but the linesman lifted his flag for an offside call that nullified the play. Replays showed afterward that he was actually onside on the play. That, even with VAR, would not be a reviewable play since offside decisions would not fall under what can be looked at. 

Ultimately, Roma managed two late goals from Nainggolan, the last with just seconds remaining from a penalty kick and fell a goal short of extra time. Had they gotten either of those two penalty decisions to go their way, the story could have been much different. 

But it was't meant to be, and now Liverpool will have a chance to win its sixth Champions League crown on May 26, while Roma's dream run ends a step short. 

Relive the match with our live blog below:

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Roger Gonzalez is an award-winning writer based in Virginia that has covered pro soccer from Europe's top clubs to Argentina's first division. Roger started out his pro soccer writing career with Full Bio

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