Home » sport » Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal: Pervis Estupinan own goal and Sadio Mane strike put the Reds in control

Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal: Pervis Estupinan own goal and Sadio Mane strike put the Reds in control

28 April 2022

Liverpool took a giant stride towards another Champions League final with a commanding victory over Villarreal at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasing Reds had to demonstrate patience to break down a Villarreal side well organised by European specialist Unai Emery.

Liverpool were held at bay despite creating all the chances and needed a touch of fortune to break the deadlock after 53 minutes when Jordan Henderson’s cross was deflected beyond Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli by Pervis Estupinan.

Sadio Mane increased Liverpool’s control when he touched Mohamed Salah’s pass beyond Rulli two minutes later.

The second leg in Villarreal is still to come next Tuesday but Liverpool now look firmly on course to meet either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final in Paris in May.

Liverpool just seem to be gathering unstoppable momentum as all challenges, even from a Villarreal side that claimed the scalps of Juventus and Bayern Munich in the previous rounds, are overcome.

Villarreal set out to take the sting out of the home team from the first whistle, taking an age over goal-kicks and other restarts, but unlike the frustration that overtook them at times against Everton at Anfield on Sunday, Liverpool remained composed, seemingly safe in their knowledge that their chance would come.

And so it proved as they moved through the gears at the start of the second half, a change of tempo that proved too much for Villarreal, with Fabinho having a goal disallowed even before Henderson’s attempted cross took that crucial touch off Estupinan.

Klopp was able to remove the tireless Henderson and goalscorer Mane from the fray as Liverpool remained in control.

Liverpool possess such threat that it is almost impossible for a team to simply sit out and hope to keep them away, such is the array of attacking riches now at Klopp’s disposal.

It is a collection of such power that he was able to keep Diogo Jota on the bench until that two-goal cushion was established, such has been the stunning impact of January signing Luis Diaz.

Diaz gave an electrifying performance, with two first-half shots that were simply too powerful for Rulli to hold, while his change of pace troubled Villarreal all night.

Klopp and Liverpool will take nothing for granted but such is their form and confidence, it is hard to see how even a side as durable as Villarreal can haul this back.

Liverpool now turn their attentions back to the Premier League pursuit of Manchester City when they travel to in-form Newcastle United on Saturday (12:30 BST). The historic quadruple is still on and the celebrations at the final whistle here suggested the Kop believes that what most observers thought was impossible is now a genuine possibility.

 

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Emery still holds out hope
Emery’s body language and impassioned gestures in the closing moments, enraged when Villarreal players conceded possession, suggested he thinks his side are still in this Champions League semi-final despite a two-goal deficit.

He has every right to hold out hope with his stellar record in these two-leg formats, having won the Europa League four times with Sevilla and Villarreal and defied the odds to take ‘the Yellow Submarine’ into the last four of the Champions League.

It will surely require something spectacular, even for this European expert, for Villarreal to disrupt a side of Liverpool’s stature.

Villarreal were drilled to the last detail in defence but they were not given any opportunity to launch the devastating counter-attacks that did such damage to Juventus and Bayern Munich.

Emery can never be discounted but Villarreal did not show enough here to suggest they can stop Liverpool reaching their third Champions League final under Jurgen Klopp.

A deflected Jordan Henderson effort and a Sadio Mane strike helped Liverpool to a dominant 2-0 victory over Villarreal in the Champions League semifinal first leg at Anfield on Wednesday.

The Spanish side were resolute in the first half but came unstuck in the second as Henderson’s deflected cross soared over goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli — later ruled a Pervis Estupinan own goal — before Mane poked home shortly after.

Villarreal have enjoyed a remarkable run in the knockout stages of this year’s competition — they stunned giants Juventus and Bayern Munich in the previous two rounds — but Jurgen Klopp’s team were rarely troubled as they dispatched the Spanish side to take a major step towards the final.

Liverpool, who won the competition in 2019, are attempting to reach their third Champions League final in five years.

“They are a very organised team and we knew they would make it difficult. It was just important that we kept going and believed that we would eventually break them down. We did that with two good goals,” Henderson said afterward.

“Majority of the game, our counter-press was really good. It made it difficult for them. But the game is still alive and it will be tough in Villarreal.”

Mane enjoyed the best chance in an uneventful first half played mostly in Villarreal’s half. The 30-year-old forward darted into the penalty area as Mohamed Salah delivered a floated cross toward the six-yard box, but Mane could not find the right contact to guide a header towards goal.

Liverpool thought they had broken the deadlock on 50 minutes when Fabinho put the ball in the back of the net, but defender Virgil van Dijk was ruled to be offside when he headed to set up the midfielder.

Klopp’s side remained in control and were dutifully rewarded as Henderson created the breakthrough on 53 minutes. The midfielder struck what looked to be a cross from near the right corner flag, seeing it take a fortunate deflection off Estupinan before looping into the back of the net.

Mane doubled the lead just two minutes later with a prodded finish after Salah rolled the ball into his path inside the box.

Villarreal did not manage a single shot on target as they struggled to make their mark.

 

“I have to admit, it could have been much worse,” Villarreal manager Unai Emery told Movistar Plus.

“We have tried to attack, to pass, to construct but they did not let us do anything and our last resort was to resist defensively in order to survive for the second match.

“We didn’t do enough to lament about anything. We have to be humble and try to make the second leg a totally different game. We have to play with more intensity, like we are used to.”

The two sides will meet again in the return leg at the Estadio de la Ceramica on May 3.

Liverpool took a major step towards reaching the Champions League final with a 2-0 victory at home to Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final tie.

As usual, Villarreal had a defensive mindset but despite having eliminated Juventus and Bayern Munich they found matters considerably more difficult against Liverpool.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 53rd minute when Jordan Henderson’s delivery was inadvertently deflected into his own net by Villarreal defender Pervis Estupinan.

Just two minutes later it was 2-0 as Sadio Mane slotted the ball home having been found by Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool still have work to do to get to the final but they will be confident of achieving that objective, especially given the limited attacking threat posed by Villarreal. The quadruple remains possible for the Reds.

 

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