Champions League: Liverpool escape from Villarreal trap to reach final

Liverpool registered a 2-0 win over Villarreal at Anfield on Wednesday night in the semi-finals of the Champions League first leg. Jordan Henderson causes the opener, Sadio Mane makes the break in stride. The comeback match is scheduled for May 3.

Lock popping finished. In two minutes, at Anfield on Wednesday evening, Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a victory in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against a very defensive Villarreal team (2-0). Following Manchester City’s resounding 4–3 success against Real Madrid, the two English teams in the last four found themselves in favorable remission for the final on 28 May at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

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Surprisingly fallen to Bayern Munich and Juventus, Villarreal did not go to Anfield to recapture the devils of Anfield’s stand, which was described as “hell” by Etienne Capou. Against his Bavarian rival, and to a lesser extent against Turinese, Unai Emery admitted categorically: Liverpool know how to catch the ball better and take advantage of spaces well. Proof of numbers: Jurgen Klopp’s team remained on 19 goals in their last 7 outings. So the Spanish coach did not have any problem in applying low blocks. Too low and too dense, with the hope of disrupting the last gesture or destroying the opportunities before the strike. In this register, Juan Foyth, moderated by Luis Diaz, was notable.

>> Champions League: Liverpool-Villarreal win again (2-0)

Another first half clean sheet for Villarreal

Before finding fault, the Reds still sweated former Montpellier goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli. Ibrahima Konate (8th), Mohamed Salah (14th, 35th), Luis Diaz (14th, 31st), Sadio Mane (12th, 33rd), Thiago Alcantara (42nd)… all had great chances in the first period. But the yellow submarine was too strong. When Capoue came to support the central defense, led by veteran Ral Albiol (36), the two wingers did not contain their attempts to come down on the flanks.

At half-time, Liverpool had 1 to 12 shots to their opponent. No team had worked so hard at this stage of the competition since 2003–2004 without scoring in the first 45 minutes. Although a post helped (on Thiago’s occasion), it was almost predictable. 7th in La Liga is indeed a specialist in this matter: in their 11 Champions League games this season, their cages have been preserved in the first 9 periods.

Match opened at double deflected center

Facing Bayern Munich, Villarreal had found a way to counterattack to punish the opponent’s immaturity. No, this time. With a sign of suffering, the Spanish team abandoned the possibility of inflicting fate for the Reds. Because it was on a center-shot deflected twice, Parvis Estupinon then Geronimo Rulli, that captain Jordan Henderson unlocked the mark (53rd, 1-0). Goals in such matches are often like catchups.

Barely two minutes later, a borderline offside pass from Mohamed Salah allowed Sadio Mane to score his fourth achievement of the season in the Champions League. And above all to keep the Reds in excellent shape for the return leg, scheduled for Tuesday May 3 at the Estadio de la Ceramica. Villarreal is doomed to another feat after a 2019 win to prevent Liverpool from making a comeback in the last three years. This may require another game plan.

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