Liverpool entered the first leg against Villarreal as a strong candidate at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp’s side was polite in the league with the Yellow Submarine not quite. Unai Emery knew he had a real job on his hands.
As expected, the match was mostly played in the Villarreal half during the first minutes. Sadio Mane had the best chance, finding space inside the penalty area but hitting his header away. Luis Diaz tried his luck but Jeronimo Rulli denied him.
12′ – good chance. Salah is released lower right and checks from the inside. His cross meets Mane’s timed path, but he cannot direct his header towards the goal.[0-0]#UCL | # level pic.twitter.com/WYvM2k29kJ
– Liverpool FC (LFC) April 27 2022
Diaz was proving to be a constant threat, as Rowley parried another shot. Mane had the next best chance but his skewed shot veered wide. Mohamed Salah had two quick chances, but he mocked the crossbar. His best chance came from Thiago, who shook his belt from 25 yards at the post. This was the closest Liverpool scored in the first half.
#UCL | 0-0 ⏱ 45 ‘+1’ | half the time.
Everything is equal in the first half at Anfield. pic.twitter.com/JhFef80OVZ
– Villarreal CF English (VillarrealCFen) April 27 2022
Fabinho scored the ball into the net within five minutes of the start of the second half after a corner kick. However, the goal was ruled out for offside. However, Liverpool’s goal soon became 1-0. Jordan Henderson’s cross from the right deviated to Pervis Estupinan and tricked Rowley into falling into the net. One quickly became two as Salah slipped into Mane which put the end in Rowley’s goal.
53′ – Salah found Henderson in the overlap area and took a cross that veered off Espinan and flew in. Great goal in a tie![1-0]#UCL | # level https://t.co/p5qK1jNQ75
– Liverpool FC (LFC) April 27 2022
Andy Robertson thought he scored Liverpool’s third goal but it was offside. Liverpool controlled the ball now with Villarreal looking down. They were trying to move on but the Reds’ defensive line held. Unai Emery will have to work his magic in Spain as Liverpool held out for a comfortable 2-0 win.
Here are the three main points from the match:
Light work for Liverpool
It took more than 50 minutes but Liverpool were much better the whole time. The three in front were causing all sorts of trouble for Rulli. Thiago was in full flow while Trent Alexander-Arnold was expert at passing. There were frequent hits ahead throughout with Villarreal failing to make much progress. The first goal had a touch of luck but the second goal was all about Salah’s superb pass.
Jordan Henderson match in numbers against Villarreal:
100% won in interventions (4/4)
87% scrolling accuracy
Total touches 68
6 recover the ball
4 long passes
Captain performance. 💪🏴 pic.twitter.com/qJqwTzDOEq
– StatmanDave April 27 2022
Alison was never threatened and rarely had any work to do. The fact that the pressure was so intense meant that even when Villarreal tried to escape, they had nowhere to go. Furthermore, they could have scored more had it not been for some extravagance. So, it’s very difficult to see the return match going any other way but the same.
Villarreal fights but falls
It was a lively show but like Everton at the weekend, Villarreal collapsed after the break. Unlucky Estopenan had his own net while Raul Albiol had played Mane in second. The main problem was that their attackers did not participate in the match. Danjuma and Chukwueze have had no luck in the Liverpool penalty area. They did some driving rounds but that would never be enough against this outfit. Boulay Dhia’s presentation ignited some life and had the only shot on target for Villarreal. Unai Emery will need to plan something really special if his team is to fix Spain’s deficit. The return of Gerard Moreno will be key to the transfer of Giovanni Lo Celso to the role of the playmaker.
Are you still in equilibrium?
It’s hard to see Villarreal coming home but strange things have happened in football. Liverpool themselves spent that famous night against Barcelona. Emery will have to play their cards absolutely perfectly if they want to advance. In the meantime, Klopp knows that this kind of performance will be more than enough to reach his third final in five years.