Liverpool are through to a third UEFA Champions League final in the last five seasons. They recovered from a shaky start against Villarreal on Tuesday night at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Despite falling two goals behind in the first half, Liverpool’s awesome second-half display saw them score thrice through Fabinho, substitute Luis Diaz, and Sadio Mane to record a 3-2 comeback win on the night.
Having recorded a 2-0 victory in the first leg, the Reds progressed 5-2 on aggregate.
With a two-goal deficit from the first leg in Anfield last week, Villarreal knew they needed to be at their very best right from the blast of the whistle
And that was what they did; as they shot in front just three minutes into the game.
Senegalese international Boulaye Dia got the crucial opening goal as he was at the right place at the right time.
Giovani Lo Celso’s cross was recycled back into the Liverpool box by Pervis Estupinan for Dia to poke home from an Etienne Capoue pass, for what was his first European goal of this campaign for the Yellow Submarine.
Expectedly the early goal was a morale booster for Unai Emery’s men as they kept pushing for more against a strangely lethargic Liverpool team who were mere passengers in the first half with no single shot on target.
After coming close on a number of occasions, Villarreal’s second goal came in the 41st minute. Francis Coquelin was the man who ensured the hosts went into the interval level with Liverpool with a brilliant header from another Capoue pass.
Liverpool came into the second half with a different mindset as Jurgen Klopp was spot on with his substitution; pulling off Diogo Jota for Diaz.
Diaz’s entrance gave Liverpool the bite they lacked in the first half and it didn’t take long before the revival began.
Just after the hour-mark, Fabinho pulled one back for Liverpool after combining well with Mohammed Salah.
After receiving the pass from Salah, Fabinho took his time and opted not to square it for his teammates before hammering it at goal straight through the Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli’s legs on 62 minutes.
Liverpool didn’t have to wait too long for a second goal at it was the game-changer, Diaz that made it 2-2 on the night with a downward header from a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 67th minute.
Though the result was more than enough to see the Reds through to the final, they opted to complete a double over their hosts as Mane sealed victory with the third goal in the 74th-minute goal. Mane rounded both Rulli and Juan Foyth before stroking the ball into an empty net.
Liverpool now await their final opponents, which will be decided between Manchester City and Real Madrid on Wednesday in Spain.
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