What a setting for Liverpool to reassert their credentials as a powerhouse on the European stage.
The Allianz Arena, home to mighty Bayern Munich, belonged to 3,800 ecstatic Kopites.
The stunned Bundesliga giants weren’t just beaten, they were humbled in their own backyard on a night to cherish in Bavaria.
After the final whistle, a beaming Jurgen Klopp headed towards the away end and unleashed a hat-trick of fist pumps. His old foes had been vanquished.
Klopp’s perfect record in two-legged ties during his Liverpool reign was maintained as the Reds strolled into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a triumph which will reverberate across the continent.
This was a special performance from a special team. From the grit and desire of the first half when Sadio Mane’s stunning opener was cancelled out by Joel Matip’s own goal, to the swagger of the second half when Virgil van Dijk’s header was followed by Mane’s second of the night.
he Senegal international goes from strength to strength. This double took his tally for the campaign to 19 goals as he tormented Bayern’s backline.
Liverpool played with real maturity and control – rock solid defensively, tireless in midfield and packing a punch going forward. There was a gulf in class.
The dour first-leg stalemate at Anfield was forgotten as Klopp found the perfect cure for the Reds’ travel sickness in Europe. This was a world away from the insipid away displays served up in the group stage.
The only sour note was the sight of left-back Andy Robertson picking up a booking late on which means he will miss the first leg of the quarter-final tie due to suspension.
After all the talk about whether Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes would be enhanced by an early Champions League exit, the response was emphatic.
Make no mistake, Klopp’s Reds have their sights firmly set on Madrid and exorcising the ghosts of Kiev last May. They intend to maintain a two-pronged assault on glory and it promises to be some ride.
Certainly, the scalp of Bayern should provide the perfect launchpad in that quest for silverware. Nobody will want to be handed the challenge of facing Klopp’s side in Friday’s draw.
The manager had sprung a surprise by leaving out the in-form Fabinho but the debate about the midfield selection was rendered meaningless after Jordan Henderson went down with an ankle injury early on.
The Reds skipper tried to battle on but had to admit defeat with Fabinho thrown into action inside 13 minutes.
Liverpool had endured a couple of major scares prior to the Brazilian’s introduction.
Roberto Firmino’s stray pass just outside his own box left the Reds exposed but Thiago’s finish was wayward. Hearts were in mouths when Robert Lewandowski went sprawling after tangling with Van Dijk but Italian referee Daniele Orsato waved away appeals for a penalty.
Liverpool didn’t help themselves by being sloppy in possession at times as they invited pressure. However, they slowly started to settle and grew into the contest with Firmino’s fierce strike whistling narrowly wide.
Midway through the first half they grabbed the precious away goal they craved courtesy of Mane’s brilliance and some kamikaze goalkeeping from Manuel Neuer.
Van Dijk picked out Mane’s run with a pin-point lofted pass. He controlled expertly but with Rafinha for company he still had plenty to do.
Bizarrely, Neuer raced off his line to meet him and Mane ensured the World Cup winner’s rush of blood was punished. The turn to get away from the keeper was exquisite and the finish was simply sublime as he chipped the ball over two defenders and into the unguarded net.
Klopp raced down the touchline and raised a clenched fist towards the ecstatic travelling Kop.
The Reds threatened to add to their account with Mane teeing up Robertson, whose drive from a tight angle was turned behind by Neuer.
Liverpool had Bayern exactly where they wanted them as the home fans grew increasingly agitated.
However, six minutes before the break, the mood inside the Allianz Arena was transformed.
Serge Gnabry got in behind Robertson down the left and fired across the face of goal. With Lewandowski lurking behind him, Matip had to intervene but only succeeded in turning the ball into his own net.
Briefly, it was Bayern in the ascendancy with Alisson Becker gathering David Alaba’s free-kick.
With the balance of the tie in their favour, Liverpool didn’t need to take any unnecessary risks after the interval.
It was about being organised and compact and then using their opportunities to hit Bayern on the counter. They carried out that game plan with aplomb.
Salah could have eased the tension but with options either side of him he went for glory and Neuer pulled off an unconvincing save.
At the other end Gnabry’s dangerous delivery from the right just eluded Lewandowski at the near post.
It was Bayern who had to chase the game and Niko Kovac responded by bringing on Kingsley Coman for Franck Ribery.
Despite all their possession, the hosts created precious little as Van Dijk and Matip held firm. How Bayern were left to rue not showing more ambition when Van Dijk was absent for the first leg at Anfield.
Liverpool were streetwise as they ran down the clock. They kept Bayern at bay and then delivered the decisive blow with 21 minutes to go.
James Milner’s corner was a beauty and Van Dijk soared highest to power a header past Neuer. The commanding Dutch defender raced away in celebration before being mobbed by his team-mates.
Bayern were beaten and the party in the away end was in full swing as the chants of ‘ole’ echoed around the stunned Allianz with every completed Liverpool pass.
The Reds weren’t finished yet as they bagged a third in style late on. Salah’s delivered one of the assists of the season with the outside of his left boot and Mane got in behind Mats Hummels to nod home.
Leaving Europe? No chance. This was a statement that Liverpool intend to remain. They’re on the march once again.