Villarreal 2 - 3 Liverpool
Yellow Submarine: Dia 3’, Coquelin 41’
Liverpool: Fabinho 62’, Diaz 67’, Mané 74’
Seven matches from greatness? Well, it’s all academic without a great 90 (or 120) minutes tonight. Of course, with a 2-0 lead, “greatness” tonight will be defined as merely “good enough to get the job done.”
Diogo Jota gets the nod over Luis Diaz, Naby Keita starts over Jordan Henderson in the middle of the park, and Konaté continues being our Champions League central defender of choice to partner with Virgil van Dijk. Everyone else is largely as you’d expect them to be.
It’ll probably be nervy at times—and it should be, a European Cup final is up for grabs—but these Reds are mustard.
Goal. Well, that’s not the way you want to start on the road in Europe when nursing a 2-goal lead. It’s a brilliant move by Villarreal, to be fair, beating our offside trap with a cross to the back post, and playing it back across for a relatively easy finish. Hold on to your butts.
The goal kind of came out of nothing, and Liverpool have had a decent response to going behind. The Reds are clearly a bit shook and their passing isn’t as crisp (or accurate) as usual, but they also haven’t completely lost their cool. Also, there appears to be more space to exploit than last week, and Salah could’ve been in a few times early with a better final ball.
Salah gets involved in a mad scramble in the box, a bit reminiscent of his equalizer against Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinal in 2018, but unfortunately without the same result. No matter, Liverpool are looking more dangerous as the half wears on.
Things nearly go from bad to worse for Liverpool after an errant back pass plays in Lo Celso. Thankfully Alisson smothers the chance, miraculously not giving away a penalty in the process. Though only just. If the pen had been given, Var likely doesn’t overturn it.
Goal. Well, fuck. Two goals on two shots on target for the Yellow Submarine. Again it was on a cross to the back post, and Liverpool suddenly find themselves on the brink of elimination. Halftime cannot come soon enough.
If Liverpool weren’t shook by the first goal, they sure as hell were by the second. They wouldn’t be human if they weren’t. Hopefully they can reset and kick on in the second half. Henderson and Diaz would probably be welcome additions.
Second half begins and so does Operation Score a Fucking Goal, Liverpool (and also please stop conceding). Also, Klopp has seen enough from Jota, and has brought on Luis Diaz to start the half. Great.
It’s a much better display from Liverpool to open the second half. They suddenly look like Liverpool again (by which I mean they can seem to be able to completely several passes to each other in a row). A Trent Alexander-Arnold shot from distance is deflected and rattles the top of the cross bar, the second time Liverpool have hit the post so far.
GOAL! Fabinho puts Liverpool back ahead! (On aggregate!) Salah plays fabinho into the box, and the Brazilian midfielder hits it hard, low, and through the keeper’s legs. Fantastic finish, and we can once again breathe a little easier. Now, keep firing, assholes.
GOAL!! And Liverpool equalize! Trent plays a lovely left-footed cross into the box, picking out Diaz, who nods it home. The shot also goes through the keeper’s legs. Rough night, my dude.
GOAL!!! Mané scores a third for Liverpool, and that should do it for this tie. Sadio is played through and the keeper comes a long way out of this box to try to beat the Senegalese striker to it. He does not, and Sadio is left with an open net and an easy finish.
Klopp makes a triple sub moments later, bringing off Naby Keita, Thiago, and Andy Robertson for Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones, and Kostas Tsimikas. Might also want to hook Trent, who is on a yellow. And a few minutes later James Milner comes on for Fabinho.
As the half wears on, it’s clear that Villarreal threw all of their best punches in the first half, and are now punched out. They gave us a hell of a scare, even more than Man City gave us in 2018. But there was always a sting in the tail, and the Reds were able to get to halftime, reset, and kick on in the second half.
RED CARD Etienne Capoue picks up a cheap second yellow, more out of exhaustion than anything, and is given his marching orders.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Liverpool won the match—and the tie—in the end, but it was hard graft getting there. As I’ve referenced a few times, there were echoes of that 2018 away leg to Manchester City, which we also won in the end, but it will be remembered much more for the nervy first half than the triumphant second.
Both sets of fans applaud off their team. But the one in Red is going to final in Paris.
Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match against Villarreal?
This poll is closed
Virgil van Dijk