Liverpool moved a step closer to yet another Champions League final with a dominant win against Villarreal at Anfield. To break down a Villarreal team highly organized by European specialist Unai Emery, Jurgen Klopp’s quadruple-chasing Reds needed patience. Despite having all the opportunities, Liverpool was held at bay and required a stroke of luck to secure victory after 53 minutes when Jordan Henderson’s cross was diverted past Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli by Pervis Estupinan — casino online games are now seeing obvious predictions regarding the final matches.
Two minutes later, Sadio Mane extended Liverpool’s lead by touching Mohamed Salah’s ball beyond Rulli. The second leg in Villarreal is still scheduled for next Tuesday, but Liverpool now appears to be on track to face either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the finals in Paris.
Liverpool appears to be gaining insurmountable momentum as all obstacles, including those from Villarreal are vanquished. Villarreal set out from the outset to take some of the heat out of the home club, taking their time over goal-kicks as well as other resets, but unlike the anguish that gripped them at moments against Everton at Anfield, Liverpool remained calm and composed, obviously confident that their moment would come.
Thus it proved when they changed gears at the beginning of the second half, a speed that became too much even for Villarreal, with Fabinho getting a goal rejected well before Henderson’s effort to cross got that critical touch off Estupinan. As Liverpool maintained control, Klopp was able to eliminate the relentless Henderson and striker Mane from the game. Because of the plethora of attacking riches presently at Klopp’s disposal, it is practically difficult for a club to just sit out and try to hold Liverpool at bay.
This has been the startling impact of Luis Diaz because he was able to maintain Diogo Jota on the sideline until that two-goal margin was built. Diaz had a spectacular performance—in fact, the two first-half attempts were simply too strong for Rulli to save, and his change of pace caused Villarreal problems the entire time. Klopp and Liverpool certainly take nothing for granted, but with their current form and attitude, it is difficult to see how even a resilient side like Villarreal can come back from this.
Emery’s mannerisms and emotional gestures in the dying seconds, angered when Villarreal players relinquished possession, indicating that amidst a two-goal disadvantage, he believes his team is still in this Champions League semi-final. With his great record in these two-leg forms, he has every reason to be optimistic, having won the Europa League multiple times with Sevilla and Villarreal and challenging the odds to guide ‘the Yellow Submarine’ into the final four of the Champions League.
Even for this European specialist, Villarreal will have to do something remarkable to upset a side of Liverpool’s status. Villarreal’s defense was meticulously prepared, but they were not given the opportunity to unleash the destructive counter-attacks that caused such havoc for Juventus and Bayern Munich. In any case, Villarreal did not display much to indicate they can prevent Liverpool from completing their third Champions League final with Jurgen Klopp.