Then there were four. It was 2009 when English football last made up half of a Champions League quarter-final draw. Liverpool were first through the door that time, beating arguably the greatest name in European football; Real Madrid.
That was good. This, if anything, was better. This was one of the finest results by any English club in Europe, given that Liverpool had drawn the home leg.
Bayern Munich are European royalty with all the sense of entitlement and privilege that entails. No sooner have they hit the top of the domestic league than the talk begins of trebles. The German Cup and, of course, this: the club championship of Europe.
Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his second goal to put the last 16 tie to bed to send Bayern Munich crashing out at home
The Liverpool winger got on to the end of a Mohamed Salah cross to head home his second and his side’s third goal
Mane is hugged by his Liverpool team-mates as his brace helped Liverpool sail into the quarter-finals of Champions League
MATCH FACTS, PLAYER RATINGS AND MATCH ZONE
BAYERN MUNICH (4-3-3): Neuer 5.5; Rafinha 5.5, Sule 5.5, Hummels 6, Alaba 7; Javi Martinez 7 (Goretzka 72 6), Rodriguez 7 (Sanches 79), Thiago 7; Gnabry 7.5, Lewandowski 6, Ribery 5 (Coman 61, 6)
SUBS NOT USED: Ulreich, Boateng, Davies, Jeong
GOALS: Matip og 39
BOOKINGS: Thiago 65, Sanches 84
COACH: Niko Kovac 5.5
LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson 7; Alexander-Arnold 7.5, Matip 7, van Dijk 9, Robertson 6; Milner 8 (Lallana 87), Henderson 6 (Fabinho 13, 7.5), Wijnaldum 7; Salah 7, Firmino 8 (Origi 83), Mane 8.5
SUBS NOT USED: Mignolet, Lovren, Sturridge, Shaqiri
GOALS: Mane 26, 84, Van Dijk 69
BOOKINGS: Fabinho 43, Matip 63, Robertson 90+2
COACH: Jurgen Klopp 8
REFEREE: Daniele Orsato (Italy) 7.5
MAN OF THE MATCH: Virgil van Dijk
VENUE: Allianz Arena
*Ratings by Dominic King
Sadio Mane (No 10) finishes off a well-worked move to score opener
Joel Matip (No 32) put into his own net to get Bayern back into it
Virgil van Dijk then scored the important second goal for Liverpool from a corner in the second half. For more of Sportsmail’s fantastic MATCH ZONE feature, please click here.
Barcelona reached the Champions League quarter-finals for a record equaling 17th time on Wednesday night – and it was Bayern Munich’s record they equaled. That is the pedigree of the club. There were 70,000 in the Allianz Arena, and they came expecting only one outcome. Long before the end they were streaming towards the exits. Liverpool were a different class.
So: England 3 Germany 0. Three matches against Bundesliga opposition for Premier League teams, three victories. Maybe there is a reason young British talent finds it easier to get a game here than they do at home; this isn’t a vintage season for German football. Munich are top of the league again but unless Liverpool caught them on an off night, look very ordinary.
Liverpool’s forwards are far superior – particularly Sadio Mane in his current form – and Munich’s defence was never as comfortable as they had appeared at Anfield. Add to this Tottenham’s home and away wins over Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City’s ten goal aggregate against Schalke and this was an emphatic statement by English football – but Liverpool’s win was the pick of the bunch.
Sadio Mane turns the on-rushing Manuel Neuer to create space for the opening goal in the first half at the Allianz Arena
Mane then delicately chip the ball into the Bayern Munich net with the ball evading two defenders before reaching the goal
Mane, who was sent through on goal by Van Dijk, had the awareness to turn the German goalkeeper at the top of the box
Liverpool’s Senegalese winger wheels away in celebration after giving his team a crucial away goal in Germany
Mat Hummels (left) and David Alaba (right) look dejected after Mane breaks the deadlock in the first half
It will have meant much to manager Jurgen Klopp, too; a triumphant return to his homeland and a marker put down against its greatest team, particularly in the second-half when Munich should have been chasing the win, but barely had a sniff.
This was a triumph of organisation in all areas. Not just picking Munich off, but shutting them down. Liverpool lost Jordan Henderson – such an influence on European nights – after 13 minutes when he rolled an ankle, but did not skip a beat. Fabinho slipped into central midfield, and Liverpool continued to chase Munich from their turf. It was an outstanding performance, fully deserving of victory; magnificent defence and a cutting, matchwinning, edge.
At 1-1, Liverpool were going through on away goals anyway, but two goals in the second-half negated the need for UEFA’s aid. Sadio Mane scored his second of the night, and Virgil van Dijk his third in four games.
What a buy he has been. Not just a defensive game-changer, but a man capable of changing games with goals, too. His presence in the opposing penalty area is such, one wonders why Liverpool do not put it in the mixer from set pieces more often.
Serge Gnabry plays a low cross across the face of the Liverpool goal in an attempt to find team-mate Robert Lewandowski
Before it can reach Lewandowski, Liverpool defender Joel Matip tries to intercept the ball but scores an own goal
Gnabry celebrates helping Bayern get back into the game after his dangerous cross was turned in by Matip
The Bayern Munich players celebrate the equaliser together after getting themselves back into the game before half time
Matip complains to his Liverpool team-mates after they fail to stop Gnabry getting in behind and putting in a low cross
Munich were excellent at Liverpool, but it was a negative performance, devoid of ambition. When Robert Lewandowski had a deflected shot travel weakly through to Alisson after 30 minutes here, it represented the first time in two hours of football against Liverpool that they had mustered a shot on target.
Liverpool were different. They came to do a job, yes, but not to steal the game. They played with more ambition than Munich at Anfield. They didn’t risk, they were not cavalier, but they got at Munich, most successfully through Mane. He is in the form of his life right now, with ten goals in as many matches.
His first of the night, though, came with unlikely assistance from the scrambled mind of Manuel Neuer. He is often cited as the best goalkeeper in the world, the epitome of the sweeper-keeper. What was he thinking?
Neuer is considered the one goalkeeper who could have made a serious go of it as an outfield player, but looking at what happened here that hand may be somewhat overplayed. Certainly he wouldn’t have made it as a defender. It wasn’t just that his positioning was poor or his reading of the game rash, more that he was turned inside out by a lovely piece of skill from Mane. Better he stays between the posts; certainly it would have been better for Munich on this occasion.
Virgil van Dijk scored Liverpool’s second goal to put real pressure on the hosts as they faced going out at home
Liverpool’s central defender rose highest to head the ball into the back of the net from a corner in the second half
The Dutch defender nodded the ball to Manuel Neuer’s left to give Liverpool two crucial away goals at the Allianz Arena
Van Dijk leaps in the air to celebrate after getting Liverpool’s second away goal on the night on Wednesday
Neuer it was who turned drama into crisis. It was always going to be tense, trying to keep a clean sheet against one of the finest forward lines in Europe, yet Neuer’s unnecessary panic placed Munich at a disadvantage. The goal was scored after 27 minutes and at no time from that point were Munich going through.
The goalless away draw is deceptive. On the face of it a good result; in reality fraught with danger. Concede one in the second leg, and the home team must immediately score twice. So there was a huge amount at stake when Neuer’s nerve snapped. There had already been signs that Munich were getting tense at the back. Sloppy play, simple passes kicked into touch.
Yet Neuer’s response to a very rudimentary tactic – a long ball upfield by van Dijk for Mane to run onto – was disastrous. There were still Munich defenders around to cover but he tore from his line, almost to the edge of his penalty area.
He failed dismally in preventing danger. Instead, Mane took a delightful touch, spun, and left Neuer for dead. The goal was empty. He clipped the ball towards the far corner, out of the influence of Mats Hummels chasing back in desperation.
Lewnadowski goes down inside the area under the challenge of Van Dijk but his penalty shout is turned down
The Poland international falls to the floor in a heap but nothing is given as Bayern’s first real chance goes begging
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah tries to get out of the way of Hummels’ high boot during the first half
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson receives treatment on the pitch after suffering an early injury at the Allianz Arena
Henderson was soon substituted following a coming together with James Rodriguez inside 10 minutes in Munich
Andy Robertson is consoled by James Milner after his yellow card means he will miss the first leg of the quarter-final
When Munich got back in the game after 39 minutes, it was another goal that relied rather heavily on human error. Serge Gnabry – who West Brom fans may be mildly surprised to see now featuring in the knockout stages of the Champions League – burst down the right flank and got past the usually reliable Andrew Robertson. He crossed and Joel Matip, panicked by the appearance of Lewandowski on his shoulder, turned the ball into his own net.
Matip suffers in comparison to the excellent van Dijk, but he was trapped here. Facing his own goal, he was an accident waiting to happen but, had he left the ball, Lewandowski would almost certainly have scored.
On the touchline, Klopp went beserk and appeared to be blaming van Dijk, perhaps for not closing Gnabry down sooner when Robertson was beaten. It was certainly a goal that would have made awkward repeat viewing for more than one Liverpool man.
Yet if van Dijk was carrying the can, he more than made amends after 69 minutes. With Liverpool still vulnerable to a Munich goal – not that one looked like coming – van Dijk rose above Hummels to meet a James Milner corner and leave Munich chasing two goals in 21 minutes for victory.
They barely came close. Instead, it was Liverpool who scored another, Mane meeting a Mohamed Salah cross at the far post with a brave header.
The locals headed home and no doubt in some elite corridor, a plan began forming to further curb Premier League power: FFP plus plus, maybe. The 2007-08 campaign was another that included four English quarter-finalists. the year when only English teams eliminated English teams in Europe; Liverpool beating Arsenal, Chelsea beating Liverpool, Manchester United defeating Chelsea in the final. Will it be the same again? The draw is on Friday. Watch this space.