Liverpool are in control of the Champions League semi-final after an emphatic 2-0 victory over Villarreal at Anfield.

The home side dominated throughout, overwhelming Villarreal with their speed, intensity and quality.

Villarreal’s defensive excellence frustrated Liverpool at times in the first half, even though Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara hit the post. But the dam burst after the break.

Match review:

Henderson’s cross deflected in off Pervis Estupinan in the 53rd minute, and two minutes later Sadio Mane poked Mo Salah’s clever pass into the net from close range.

Villarreal, who didn’t have a single shot on target, were happy to get away from Anfield without further damage. The tie is not over, but Liverpool are strong favourites to reach the final in Paris.

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 toward the final.

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

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.

Jordan Henderson celebrates Liverpool taking the lead against Villarreal

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.

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

Player ratings

Liverpool Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Konate (7), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (8), Henderson (8), Fabinho (7), Thiago (8), Salah (8), Mane (8), Diaz (8).

Subs: Keita (6), Jota (6), Gomez (6), Origi (6).

Villarreal: Rulli (4), Foyth (6), Albiol (6), Torres (6), Estupinan (5), Parejo (6), Capoue (6), Coquelin (5), Chukwueze (6), Lo Celso (6), Groeneveld (6).

Subs: Pedraza (6), Trigueros (6), Dia (6), Aurier (6), Iborra (6).

Man of the match: Thiago.

Liverpool had too much for Villarreal

Liverpool attacked from the outset with the best chance of the opening 45 minutes falling to Mane early on. He could only head wide from Mohamed Salah’s cross.

With Villarreal defending deep, it required pressing and patience, Luis Diaz harrying the opposition and Thiago setting the tempo with his ever-impressive passing.

Liverpool’s win in stats

  • Liverpool have progressed in 13 of the previous 14 Champions League knockout-stage ties after winning the first leg, losing to Bayer Leverkusen in 2002 after a 1-0 win.
  • Liverpool have won nine matches in the Champions League this season, the most games they have ever won in a single campaign in European competition.
  • Villarreal attempted just one shot in this match, with that shot missing the target. It is the joint-fewest shots by any side in a Champions League semi-final since data was available.

Liverpool’s Remaining Fixtures

April 30 – Newcastle United (a)

May 3 – Villarreal (a), Champions League semi-final second leg

May 7 – Tottenham (h)

May 10 – Aston Villa (a), live on Sky Sports

May 14 – Chelsea (n), FA Cup final

May 17 – Southampton (a), live on Sky Sports

May 22 – Wolves (h)

Stay tuned for more Sports Updates. And if you are a fantasy sports fan, download our Mobile App.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *