Liverpool fight back to reach CL final

07 May 2022 | 08:08 | Football

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his third goal with Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and teammates. Photo: REUTERS


Liverpool’s Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his third goal with Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and teammates. Photo: REUTERS

Jurgen Klopp said reaching a third Champions League final in five years with Liverpool felt as special as the first after his side saw off Villarreal on Tuesday to keep their hopes up quadruple.

A 2-0 lead from the semi-final first leg, Villarreal raised hopes of a significant change in the second leg at the Estadio de la Ceramica after Boulaye Dia finished in the third minute and Francis Coquelin headed in. another to level the score at 2 -2.

But Klopp brought in Luis Diaz in place of Diogo Jota at the interval to shake Liverpool up and it worked, the visitors scoring three goals in 12 minutes thanks to Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane to win 3-2 on night and 5. 2 wins on aggregate.

“It feels like the first final because it’s always very special – it’s the best club competition in the world,” said Klopp. “Respect Villarreal. Great stadium and what they’re doing here is unbelievable. It feels special because it’s so difficult for us.

“That’s huge from the lads. Before the game, I said I wanted to read the headlines that psychological monsters were in town. I didn’t want us to defend the result but win. , and the second half is like this.”

Liverpool will await the winner of the second semi-final between Real Madrid and Manchester City, which meet at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday with City leading 4-3 from last week’s opening goal.

Liverpool’s Andy Robertson said: “To reach a final is never easy and to achieve a third in five years is unbelievable for this group of boys. “As fans and players, we should never take days like this for granted.”

Man City or Madrid will present a first-class test against Villarreal, but after a divine experience at Anfield last week, Unai Emery’s side delivered a display of spirit that shook Liverpool and showed why they beat both Juventus and Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals.

Emery said: “I have no regrets. “We’ve learned to compete with the best teams. There are some answers that we can’t find.”

Liverpool were careless, maybe even complacent in the first half but sensational in the second. Diaz, who started from the bench, is an integral part of the defence, and may soon have to become an automatic starter for Klopp.

“He was special,” said Robertson. “The talent he has, the will he has to win. He’s the perfect fit for us. He’s made a big difference.”

A banner hung behind Villarreal’s goal at one end reading “90 minutes from our dream” while before kick-off the stadium announcer shouted “maybe, may be back!”

And if anyone on the field remained skeptical, they were soon given a boost when Pervis Estupinan pulled in a cross from the left and Etienne Capoue’s shot wide of the post was missed by Dia.

Liverpool lacked the usual control and precision, with Villarreal’s second goal coming four minutes before half-time when Pau Torres unleashed a long ball from deep for Capoue to cross.

Capoue’s first touch could have gone away from him but he recovered, controlled, and turned away from Robertson before hanging a superb left-footed cross for Coquelin to head.

– Swear –
The first half whistle blew, loud cheers from the home fans, the team tied, and a change from Klopp, as Diaz replaced Jota.

Liverpool looked like a team taking a selfie after the break. Now they are rushing to make throw-ins, eager to find the intensity they lacked before.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s shot from afar goes over the crossbar. Diaz volleys behind the vertical post. And then Fabinho finished, caught up with Mohamed Salah’s pass and shot early past Geronimo Rulli’s feet.

This was a more familiar Liverpool, hitting a level Villarreal couldn’t match, and five minutes later they scored their second, restoring their two-goal lead.

Alexander-Arnold was provided with too much space on the right and made a cross for Diaz to have a superb header.

Seven minutes later, Liverpool delivered the final blow, when Rulli rushed to close a ball that had been thrown forward but failed.

Mane sped up and hit the net before Capoue was sent off, receiving his second yellow card for a nasty challenge with six minutes left in the game.