Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal - Europa League Match Report

Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal - Europa League Match Report

It was another famous European night at Anfield as Jürgen Klopp incredibly guided Liverpool to the final of the Europa League in his first season in charge; something that would’ve seemed unimaginable when he took charge in October. There was no doubting how amped Klopp was for this game and his team matched his desire in this emphatic win.

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Liverpool were handed a huge boost before kick off with the return of Emre Can from injury and that positivity was reflected in the opening minutes of the game with the home side feeding off an incredible atmosphere to really take the game to Villarreal. As it turned out, Can was the key man in this fantastic performance, allowing James Milner to put in his best performance in a Liverpool shirt.

The visitors had shown that they can be a danger on the counter, but there was just six minutes on the clock when the deadlock was broken. A magnificent driving run through midfield from Can created space and his ball out to Clyne was crossed in well by the England full-back. It created problems and Roberto Firmino, who just beyond the far post, laid it back across the danger area and Villarreal’s Bruno Soriano turned it into his own net under pressure from Daniel Sturridge to even up the tie.

The Reds continued to press their advantage and a lovely curved pass from James Milner looked to have set Adam Lallana up, but he failed to properly connect and the ball flashed wide in the thirteenth minute.

Liverpool’s attacking players continued to look lively throughout a first half that started to get a little spikey as the referee allowed a few challenges to go unpunished before starting to hand out the bookings. The intensity was rising and with so much on the line, threatening to boil over.

The second half started with a key moment – a block from Dejan Lovren that stopped a potential goal and could easily have seen the momentum of the game switch, but by preventing it, Liverpool quickly shook off any malaise from the break and reassumed control.

It was just past the hour mark when Liverpool finally got the second goal their play had merited when Firmino hooked the ball through for Sturridge and the striker made no mistake, with a composed finish in off the near post. Anfield erupted and the emotion for Sturridge was clear to see and you sensed Liverpool were not going to lose control of this game. The Reds were well on top and a delightful piece of skill from Firmino with a turn that defied the laws of physics was just another example of their domination over a Villarreal side becoming frustrated at their European dreams slipping away. That frustration was evident as defender Victor Ruiz got sent off for a second yellow card on 71 minutes.

Liverpool never took their foot off the gas and instead used their man advantage and the spaces opening up to increase the pressure on the visitors and with ten minutes left, the game was put to bed. Liverpool’s third goal was another created by Firmino, who played so well on the night; he received the ball on the left, went round the outside of his defender and cut it back to Sturridge, but his miss-hit shot fell nicely for Lallana to stab home. Klopp’s insistence that Villarreal had celebrated too much, too early after the first leg came to be prophetic words as the travelling fans, who could only sit forlorn and watch as Liverpool celebrated reaching their first European final since 2007.

Teams:

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Lovren, Toure, Moreno; Can, Milner; Lallana, Firmino (Benteke), Coutinho (Allen); Sturridge (Lucas)

Subs: Ward, Skrtel, Smith, Lucas, Allen, Ibe, Benteke

Villarreal: Areola, Martinez, Musacchio, Ruiz, Jorda, Dos Santos (Bonera), Pina (Trigueros), Soriano, Suarez, Soldado (Adrian), Bakambu

Subs: Asenjo, Sanchez, Trigueros, Azuaga, Adrian, Rukavina, Bonera