When Emre Can crumpled to the ground during Liverpool’s Europa League clash against Borussia Dortmund, the Anfield crowd held its breath.
At the time, Liverpool were drawing 2-2 and needed to score twice in 13 minutes to save their Europa League campaign and now it seemed their key midfielder had picked up a serious injury.
While Can was receiving treatment, Mamadou Sakho scored to set up a grandstand finish and, after the German was substituted, Dejan Lovren scored an injury-time winner to send Liverpool through to the last-four.
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A few days later, after the euphoria in Liverpool had died down, it was revealed that Can had suffered ankle ligament damage and would miss six weeks - his season was all but over.
Three weeks later and he’s putting in an incredible performance against Villarreal to help send his side through to the final in Basel.
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But don’t just take our word for it, ask Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher. The former defender hailed the performance of the German, who played the entire match as Jurgen Klopp’s team overcame a 1-0 defeat in the first-leg by triumphing 3-0 at Anfield.
After the match, Carragher tweeted: “Fantastic performance by all but a special mention for Emre Can who was outstanding!”
The 22-year-old didn’t look like he had missed the previous five matches as he barely stopped running all night. The midfielder won every second ball and hassled and harried his opponents, winning the ball back and starting attacks on countless occasions.
The former Bayer Leverkusen man has been instrumental since his countryman took over as manager in October and his return gave the whole squad a much needed boost ahead of the second-leg.
In truth, the Merseysiders eased to the final. An early goal was needed to level the tie and they got exactly that - albeit rather fortuitously. Villarreal defender Bruno turned the ball into his own net at the Kop end after just seven minutes and Liverpool didn’t look back.
However, it did take until Daniel Sturridge’s 63rd-minute goal for them to go ahead for the first time in the match. Eight minutes later, it was effectively game over when Victor Ruiz received a second yellow card for a lunge on Adam Lallana.
Lallana then rounded off the perfect night for the club when he tapped in from a Sturridge mis-kick nine minutes from time.
And Can might not be the only player returning to fitness before the final on May 18. Jordan Henderson and Divock Origi could both make the final against Sevilla in 12 days time as the club look to win their first trophy since 2012 and qualify for next season's Champions League.
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