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VILLARREAL, SPAIN - Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring his side's second goal to make the score 2-2 (2-4 on aggreagte) during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg game between Villarreal CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio de la Cerámica. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool (2-5 agg): Reds into the Champions League final!

Liverpool fought back from a dreadful first half to not only win 3-2 on the night, but beat Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate and reach the Champions League final.

Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool

Champions League Semi-Final Second Leg, El Madrigal
May 3, 2022

Goals

Dia 3′
Coquelin 41′
Fabinho 62′ (assist – Salah)
Diaz 67′ (assist – Alexander-Arnold)
Mane 74′ (assist – Keita)


Before kickoff in Spain, Jurgen Klopp was at pains to stress that Liverpool would not underestimate their opponents despite holding a 2-0 lead, but it was a sloppy start from the favourites.

A calamity of slack defending saw Villarreal whip the ball from flank to flank, before a lofted ball was cut back by Etienne Capoue for a third-minute goal for Boulaye Dia.

It took time for things to improve, with Andy Robertson and Naby Keita particularly poor early on, while a heavy touch from Diogo Jota saw a promising move fall apart.

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Villarreal's Boulaye Dia (R) celebrates after scoring the first goal during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg game between Villarreal CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio de la Cerámica. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

An awful pass from Keita led to a break for Villarreal, and with Giovani Lo Celso through for a one-on-one he was thwarted by Alisson, and though penalty protests were waved away it was another warning for Liverpool’s No. 8.

Villarreal were 2-0 up before the break, with Capoue again provider as he touched down a long ball and crossed for Francis Coquelin to head in, with Trent Alexander-Arnold awful in his half-arsed marking.

HT: Villarreal 2-0 Liverpool

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Liverpool's substitute Luis Díaz during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg game between Villarreal CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio de la Cerámica. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There was a surprise as the Reds emerged from the tunnel with Jordan Henderson still in his tracksuit, with Luis Diaz the sole change at the break as he replaced a listless Jota.

That change was a no-brainer and it brought a swift improvement, with Sadio Mane offering considerably more in the centre-forward role, while the opportunities soon began to crop up as Alexander-Arnold hit the bar with a deflected shot.

The breakthrough came on the hour, with a sustained period of possession sapping the life out of Villarreal, and it was a brilliant strafing run from Fabinho that opened up the space, the Brazilian a grateful recipient as Salah fed him to fire through Geromino Rulli.

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Liverpool's Luis Díaz celebrates after scoring his side's second goal to make the score 2-2 (2-4 on aggreagte) during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg game between Villarreal CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio de la Cerámica. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Rulli was worse for the leveller, with Alexander-Arnold’s left-footed cross finding a brilliant run from the substitute Diaz, who managed to nutmeg the Villarreal goalkeeper with a close-range header for 2-2 on the night.

He then made it even worse for himself, as with Mane racing through onto the much-improved Keita’s hopeful ball, Rulli charged way out of his box and missed the challenge completely, allowing the No. 10 to comfortably finish into an open net.

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - Tuesday, May 3, 2022: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring his side's third goal to make the score 2-3 (2-5 on aggregate) during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg game between Villarreal CF and Liverpool FC at the Estadio de la Cerámica. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

To compound Villarreal’s frustration, Capoue was sent off for a second yellow late on as Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League final.

A third Champions League final in five seasons under Klopp. Paris here we come!


TIA Man of the Match: Luis Diaz

Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED)

Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, Albiol (Aurier 79′), Torres, Estupinan (Trigueros 79′); Coquelin (Pedraza 69′), Capoue, Parejo, Lo Celso; Moreno (Chukwueze 69′), Dia (Alcacer 80′)

Subs not used: Asenjo, Jorgensen, Gaspar, Iborra, Pena, Mandi, Gomez

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson (Tsimikas 79′); Fabinho (Milner 84′), Keita (Henderson 79′), Thiago (Jones 79′); Salah, Jota (Diaz 46′), Mane

Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Matip, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott, Minamino, Origi

Next match: Tottenham (H) – Premier League – Saturday, May 7, 7.45pm (BST)

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