Talk about a game of two halves! These Liverpool player ratings could perhaps have three numbers; first half, second half and overall! .
Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool
Champions League semi-final second leg, El Madrigal
May 3, 2022
Goals: Dia 3′, Coquelin 41′; Fabinho 62′, Diaz 67′, Mane 74′
Alisson (out of 10) – 6
The Brazilian may have been beaten twice in Spain, but he could do little about either goal.
His distribution wasn’t always as good as usual, in a cauldron of noise, but when Liverpool were at their worst, he was blameless.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6
There is no doubt about Alexander-Arnold’s elite brilliance as a player, but this was not always a night to remember for him.
His passing radar was off by his high standards in the first half, leading to possession being lost, and his defending was awful for Francis Coquelin’s goal.
Much better after the break, though, and assisted Luis Diaz‘s vital equaliser.
Ibrahima Konate – 6
The Frenchman was guilty of giving the ball away under no pressure, with one particularly wayward long ball causing frustration.
A more dominant presence in a much-improved second-half display by the Reds, though.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
When Van Dijk is off it, you know Liverpool have had a shaky night at the office.
From the off, the Dutchman was poor, waving for offside rather than focusing on the play, before switching off for a split second to allow Boulaye Dia to open the scoring.
Van Dijk looked ruffled early on, which is so rare, but he grew in stature as the minutes ticked by.
Andy Robertson – 5
Robertson has been in superb form of late but he didn’t cover himself in glory against the Yellow Submarine.
He was caught out positionally for both of Villarreal’s first-half goals and also offered far too little attacking thrust.
Worst display in months, looks like he needs a rest to be honest. Klopp would probably have liked to have brought on Kostas earlier on.
Fabinho – 6
Fabinho was the least culpable of Liverpool’s midfield in the first half, but that is nothing to be proud of.
He was part of a unit that completely fell to pieces in the opening 45 minutes, not tracking men and generally adding nowhere near enough quality and fight.
Then he went and scored the Reds’ all-important first goal to help turn the tie on its head – his biggest goal for the club. Lovely finish after noticing the ‘keeper move to the side expecting the cross.
Thiago – 6
Thiago has been masterful of late, but on Liverpool’s biggest evening of the season, he lost his magic – for the first 45 at least.
His usual metronomic passing radar was completely off, with balls overhit time and time again, and he also looked leggy out of possession.
Added control after the interval, although that was partly because Villarreal’s legs went.
Naby Keita – 6
At half-time, the knives were out for Keita, in what was arguably his worst 45 minutes in a Liverpool shirt given the magnitude of the game.
He was wasteful on the ball, almost leading to Alisson conceding a penalty, and looked completely overawed by the situation.
Hats off to him for showing bags of character, though, standing tall in a memorable second half for the Merseysiders.
Mohamed Salah – 5
Salah is a big-game player of epic proportions, but he really struggled to make his mark in an intimidating atmosphere.
You were still left wanting more from someone regarded as the world’s best player by some, with his end product also lacking.
Assisted Fabinho‘s goal, however, which shouldn’t go unnoticed.
Sadio Mane – 7
Mane started out on the left after playing centrally so often of late, and it was a decision that backfired.
He came alive when moved back to the middle at half-time, creating far more havoc and putting Liverpool 3-2 up to send them to Paris.
A very cool finish for the third goal. In his best form of the last two years.
Diogo Jota – 4
Jota is an odd player, scoring relentlessly but too often offering far too little in his all-around game, and this was one of those occasions.
He was hapless during his 45 minutes on the pitch, bringing no hold-up play and doing almost nothing that would be deemed positive.
More is needed if he wants to be in Liverpool’s starting XI in Paris.
Luis Diaz (on for Jota, 46′) – 10 (Man of the Match)
What can you say about this lad? What an incredible signing.
Luis Díaz's game by numbers vs. Villarreal:
100% take-ons completed
90% pass accuracy
4 touches in the opp. box
4 take-ons completed (=most)
4 shots (most)
3 x possession won
GAME. CHANGER. pic.twitter.com/q4sNY0FJ4x
— Squawka (@Squawka) May 3, 2022
Diaz offered so, so much more than Jota immediately, scoring the equaliser and generally looking a menace – he has been a season-changing signing.
Kostas Tsimikas (on for Robertson, 80′) – N/A
Did his job, but the tie was over by the time he came on.
Saw an effort saved straight after being introduced – should probably have scored.
Jordan Henderson (on for Keita, 80′) – N/A
Solid and unspectacular. Fired over. Well over.
Subs not used: Kelleher, Gomez, Matip, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Elliott, Minamino, Origi
Jurgen Klopp – 8
This is why Klopp is the world’s best manager – he finds solutions in potentially dire situations.
Liverpool were truly awful in the first half, which he arguably deserves some criticism for, but he got his players in, brought on Diaz and got a magnificent second-half performance out of his team.
This is now a third Champions League final during Klopp’s six-and-a-half-year reign, which is an amazing achievement.