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Liverpool 3, Villarreal 0 (3-1 agg): First Thoughts

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Perfect plan. Perfect execution. Liverpool are on to their second final of the season, and their first European final since 2007.

Clint Hughes/Getty Images

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Liverpool 2: OG (Bruno) 7', Sturridge 63', Lallana 81'
Villarreal 0:

  • Pre-game Thoughts: So, here we are. 90 minutes and a two-goal win away from a second final this season. I needed to crack open a Carlsberg to calm the nerves. Daniel Sturridge gets the nod to lead the line, and Emre Can makes an early (and much needed!) return from an ankle injury he picked up against Dortmund. In a perfect world, Liverpool can pick up an early goal to get Anfield rockin' and help the home side push on for a second. So, that probably won't happen. Surely if we do advance it'll be in the most heart attack inducing way possible. 

  • YNWA, gospel-style. A little weird at first, but still moving as always. 

  • Liverpool created a half-chance within the first minute, as Coutinho finds his Brazilian teammate Firmino with a lovely chip over the top. Nothing comes of it, but a good start from the hosts.

  • For better or for worse, this game already looks like it'll be more open than last week's cagey affair. Giddy-up.

  • Mignolet comes up with an important early save, as Villarreal work the ball into the box and test the Belgian keeper's far post. 

  • ***GOAL!*** GAME FUCKING ON. Can immediately makes his presence felt, as he picks out Clyne on a fantastic through ball. Clyne, in turn puts in a dangerous cross that finds Firmino at the far post, and Firmino squares it for Sturridge who is able to distract Villarreal's Bruno, who turned the ball into the back of the net. 1-0 to the Reds, 1-1 on aggregate. 

  • Liverpool are cranking up the pressure early, and looking dangerous with each venture into the attacking third. Milner picks out Lallana with a great through ball into the box, but Lallana rolls the ball past the far post with his first-touch shot. Would have been a phenomenal goal, but Milner's pass deserved a better finish from his international teammate. 

  • After a frantic opening quarter of an hour, the match has settled down in the last ten or so minutes. Liverpool are looking less shaky at the back, but still dangerous on their ventures forward. 

  • Roberto Firmino with a moment of pure sex, back heel nutmeg in the box, earning a corner. 

  • Soldado and Lovren get into it. The former Tottenham man goes down like he was shot after a Lovren lightly brushed the back of his head. He then responds by slapping Lovren's leg. 

  • Soldado finally booked for an extremely late challenge on Coutinho. Could have easily been his second. 

  • Villarreal create one final chance on a counter right before half, but Bukambu hits a weak effort straight at Mignolet and the ref blows for halftime. 

  • Halftime Thoughts: Absolutely the first half we needed to see from the home side. The Reds looked dangerous in attack, and were pressing all over the pitch like goddamned maniacs. Of course, Villarreal can ruin Liverpool's night with just one moment of inspiration, so the Reds need to keep on their toes for rest of the match. Despite Liverpool looking dangerous for most of the first half, they've not done much to test the keeper. In fact, the Reds find themselves in the odd situation where they have as many goals as shots on target and their shot on target was not the one that resulted in a goal. Things will get very interesting if Liverpool can manage to bag a second and Villarreal find themselves needing to come out of their counterattacking shell. 

  • Bukambu creating problems before and after the halftime whistle, but Lovren comes up with a big block to deny the Villarreal striker. 

  • Coutinho with some sex of his own, sending the defender the wrong way, and trying to beat the keeper to the near post. He does not. 

  • Milner not clearing first man on a corner klaxon. 

  • Lallana, once again looking like the most likely, and least likely person to score. Once again he's set through by Milner, and once again he can't put the chance on target. Very frustrating. 

  • ***GOAL!!*** STURRIDGE! The striker latches onto a blocked shot, and is typically deadly. The shot is partially blocked by the keeper, but the shot has enough power to carry on off the keeper, off the post, and over the line. Now, KEEP THAT DAMNED CLEAN SHEET!!!

  • As can be expected, Villarreal have come out of their shell, and it is terrifying. It will take a heroic effort to keep the Yellow Submarine off the score sheet tonight. 

  • ***RED CARD*** Villarreal are down to ten men, as Ruiz picks up a second yellow and is sent off. For some strange reason this actually makes me more nervous. No excuse not to see this through now. 

  • Fimino goes close with a well-struck ball from just inside the box. Unfortunately it's straight at the keeper. 

  • Lallana might have missed a few big chances tonight, but Klopp will have erotic dreams about his pressing from tonight. He's been absolutely relentless today. Seriously without relent. 

  • Moreno with a heart-in-mouth moment as he runs through Suarez in the box. Fowler must be watching out for us tonight, as no penalty is given. 

  • Fifteen minutes to play. Up a goal. Up a man. And this will likely be the longest 15 minutes of the season. Maybe the longest 15 minutes of my life. 

  • ***GOAL!*** ADAM FUCKING LALLANA WITH THE GOAL OF THE SEASON (so far). Firmino drives past his defender, squares it for Sturridge, who mishits his effort. The ball finds its way to Lallana who is kept onside by a fallen Villarreal player, and the simplest of touches sends the effort into the goal. 3-0 to the Scousers! 

  • Wee Joe Allen victory dance. The Red Panda comes on for Coutinho. No Panda, no party, and it's party time, y'all. 

  • And now Benteke comes on for Firmino. This was easily Firmino's best performance since coming back from injury.

  • "You'll Never Walk Alone" rings out as Lucas comes for Sturridge, who played a part in all three of Liverpool's goals tonight. Walk on, Daniel. 

  • Full Time: What can I possibly say? The plan and execution were perfect. Everything went right for the Reds tonight, and Everything is The Best. 

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We'll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today's game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven't already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we'll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.