Liverpool set foot in a landmark tenth European Cup closing – a fifth within the Champions League period – with a commanding 2-0 victory over Villarreal at Anfield in the primary a part of their semi-final.
A loopy personal purpose from Pervis Estupinan and a pleasant Sadio Mane end in only a few second half minutes in a row proved to be essential.
Mane was near breaking the impasse early however misdirected his header from Mohamed Salah’s cross exterior the purpose. Luis Diaz additionally pressured a save and fumble from Geronimo Rulli who Villarreal’s goalkeeper shortly recovered.
The attacking momentum remained Liverpool on a regular basis and Rulli needed to parry one other Diaz assault from the left at half hour. Raul Albiol was then in place to be certain that no Liverpool participant may flip the ball into the web instantly after. Within a second, Albiol had rejected a Mane effort painfully off the submit. Giovani Lo Celso additionally blocked from Salah.
Liverpool believed that the breakthrough had are available the closing phases of the primary half when Thiago unleashed a cool shot from distance. But the ball slammed into the submit and bounced clearly.
Anfield broke out a number of minutes after half-time when Fabinho turned in a knock-down from Virgil van Dijk, however the Dutchman was offside and the flag went up instantly.
After ready patiently for a purpose, two got here in fast succession. The opener was not stunning, however Liverpool did nicely to create the possibility, particularly Thiago beat his man and altered it. Jordan Henderson’s submit took a deflection from Estupinan and Rulli may solely flutter when it went over his head.
The second was nicer to take a look at, completed nicely by Mane past the advancing Rulli after Salah drove into the field and recorded his colleague via the legs of Pau Torres.
Liverpool quickly curled the web once more via Andrew Robertson, who was fairly far offside, whereas Rulli was virtually misplaced by a speculative drive from Virgil van Dijk.
With a cushty result in take to northeastern Spain subsequent week, the Reds didn’t must drive the downside additional and likewise efficiently stifled any probability of a setback in Villarreal through the night time.
Mohamed Salah brought about Villarreal issues / OLI SCARFF / GettyImages
GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Social media joked all night time about how a lot of a spectator he was. Could simply as simply have sat in Kop.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6/10 – Villarreal organized him nicely through the first half, which regularly pressured him inside on his weaker left foot. Grew into issues after half time.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – Enjoyed a cushty night time, with Villarreal unable to perform any significant assaults.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – 6/10 – Took a reserving in the primary half for a physique test on Samuel Chukwueze. Almost made a screamer.
LB: Andrew Robertson – 6/10 – Had the ball in the web however was good offside.
CM: Jordan Henderson – 7/10 – Will not get direct credit score for the opening purpose however he performed an important position on this win as a result of of it.
CM: Fabinho – 8/10 – Another Liverpool participant to see a purpose disallowed by an offside flag – right, thoughts you. Broke up the sport in midfield very well.
CM: Thiago Alcantara – 8/10 – His crafty and imaginative and prescient made the primary purpose attainable when he hit his man with a physique swing and moved the ball exterior.
RF: Mohamed Salah – 8/10 – Involved in creating each targets, registering a direct help for the opposite with a pleasant constant ball.
ST: Sadio Mane – 7/10 – Could not get his angles proper for an early nod however compensated for it with a superb end to double the lead. Looked sad to be taken off with virtually 20 minutes left.
LF: Luis Diaz – 7/10 – Juan Foyth gave no respite and got here up with some unconvincing saves from Rulli within the Villarreal purpose.
SUB: Naby Keita (72 ‘for Henderson) – 6/10
SUB: Diogo Jota (73 ‘for Mane) – 5/10
SUB: Joe Gomez (81 ‘for Alexander-Arnold) – 6/10
SUB: Divock Origi (81 ‘for Diaz) – 5/10
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