The Reds defeated Villarreal 3-2 away from home in their UEFA Champions League semifinal second leg. Jurgen Klopp’s men won the tie 5-2 on aggregate and booked their place in the final – as a result.
The rousing atmosphere at the Ceramica seemed to have sucked Liverpool in. The Reds, carrying a 2-0 lead from the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal tie against Villarreal, never looked comfortable in the first half of the reverse fixture. Instead, Unai Emery’s side ran the show, much to the delight of the home support, and took a two-goal lead with themselves into the break.
Liverpool fell behind three minutes after kick-off. Andrew Robertson failed to track the run of Etienne Capoue, who had made a burst from deep to meet a Pervis Estupinan cross at the back post. But, instead of shooting, the Frenchman unselfishly squared the ball to Boulaye Dia to tap into an empty net.
The LaLiga side continued to push higher, run farther, tackle harder, feeding off the infectious energy from the home stands. Their second goal, just before the break, came about from Pau Torres’s long diagonal out to Capoue on the right, which the former Tottenham man miscontrolled at first, but kept alive by creating a crossing angle for himself, checking back onto his left.
Capoue’s dinked ball to the back post was met by another former North Londoner, Francis Coquelin, who outjumped an unaware Trent Alexander-Arnold and leveled the tie on aggregate.
But, bruised and battered, with injuries to several key men, Villarreal had run their race. Liverpool flew out of the blocks after the interval, suffocating the Yellow Submarine inside their half and capitalizing on it as the cracks began to appear in their otherwise unbreachable hull.
Fabinho pulled one back in the 62nd minute, arrowing a shot from the right of the goal that went through goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli. Five minutes later, Luis Diaz equalized – and put the Reds two goals up on aggregate – by beating the offside trap and heading Alexander-Arnold’s cross into the net.
Sadio Mane put the tie beyond any doubt in the 72nd minute when, pouncing on a mistake by Rulli, the forward walked the ball into the net. And in another late blow, Capoue received his second yellow, ensuring that the Spanish side finished the match with ten men.
A valiant effort, though, it was from the minnows, but Liverpool proved too strong for them in the end and booked their spot in the final, which is scheduled to take place on May 28 at the Stade de France in Paris.