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Liverpool vs. Villarreal score: Jurgen Klopp's Reds on verge of advancing to Champions League final

Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League final after beating Villarreal on Wednesday in their semifinal first leg, 2-0. Similar to their Merseyside derby victory over Everton last weekend, the Reds had the chances to take command early but were just a tad off, coming to life in the second half. Fans at Anfield had to wait for nearly an hour of play to see the first goal, but it finally came via an own goal from Pervis Estupinan off a cross from Jordan Henderson in the 53rd minute. Sadio Mane made it 2-0 just two minutes later thanks to his quick finish off a naughty nutmeg assist from Mohamed Salah. 

Unai Emery's side did not threaten once, failing to record a shot on goal while finishing with just one shot overall. The Yellow Submarine, using the gameplan of prioritizing defending and aiming to then attack on the counter, could not repeat the performances we saw against Bayern Munich and Juventus which got them to this point. 

As a result, Liverpool can now go to Spain next week and even advance with a one-goal defeat. Villarreal need a two-goal win to force extra time, and anything superior would see them pull off an all-time shocker.

Here's what to know:

With the result Liverpool will feel ...

Confident. It was not an outstanding performance, but they really had next to nothing to worry about in defense and could largely focus on trying to achieve a comfortable margin. The Reds did produce an xG of 1.52 on 19 shots, and while a less comfortable result looked likely early in the second half, the chances were still there for it to be a bigger win. Thiago hit the post from 30 meters, Andrew Robertson had a goal called off due to offside and more. But Jurgen Klopp won't be greedy. He'll be content with the position his team is in, knowing they are on the verge of advancing to their third UCL final in the last five seasons.

With the result Villarreal will feel ...

Discouraged. They know that they weathered the storm for the first 50 minutes. It was always going to be hard to do something in attack with the injury to Gerard Moreno, because his hold-up play and connection with speedier attackers is so crucial. But with a one-goal defeat they would have probably been fairly satisfied, in truth. A result like this obligates them to be the first to score in the second leg, and they will have to score multiple times. Liverpool meanwhile have scored in 11 straight games.

Game-changing moment: The own goal

Villarreal had done plenty right in defense up until the game-changing moment, and that is when Henderson's cross took a wicked deflection off Estupinan and caught Geronimo Rulli off guard. Here is the play:

Unfortunate for Villarreal and a bit lucky for Liverpool. The visitors were in a decent spot defensively as the Reds knocked on the door, and this little deflection was the first big blow that really opened up things for the victors.

Man of the match: Thiago Alcantara

The Spanish maestro was superb on the night, pulling strings in the middle, showing off his elite technical ability, and he provided some superb passes. He nearly scored after rocketing a shot off the corner of the goal in the first half. 

He finished the match having completed an outstanding 96.1 percent of his passes, while also intercepting the ball a team-high five times. 

Top musical performance

Go on, Jamie Carragher. The Liverpool legend sang along on our pre-game show, giving an extra special touch to "You'll Never Walk Alone."

Not bad, but he definitely chose the right path following his soccer career. 

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And that's it from Anfield! Liverpool wins 2-0

It was a match to forget for Villarreal as they head back to Spain behind by two goals. Only taking one shot and none in the second half, Unai Emery will need to think about changing in the second leg. Liverpool ran the game and will be happy with the result.

April 27, 2022, 8:51 PM

Not perfect from the visitors

Villarreal were hoping to pull off a draw here, a 0-0 draw at that, and you can tell because they've shown nothing in attack. Just one total shot and none on goal, the Yellow Submarine are now bringing on Paco Alcacer to see if he can pull something out of his hat.


Will Liverpool get another?

Luis DIaz played a cross in front of goal but no one was there to get on the end of it. Liverpool are still finding space with ease, it just hasn't resulted in a third goal yet.

April 27, 2022, 8:37 PM

Tough spot now for Villarreal

Backs against the wall, the Yellow Submarine are in an unenviable position here, trailing by two goals. This really feels like the limit in terms of a disadvantage where they still have a small chance, but another goal for Liverpool and a three-goal win or better, and this is probably done. They must continue to defend with everything they have.


Van Dijk is feeling it

Stinging Rulli's hands from about 30 yards out, the Liverpool center back is having fun getting involved in the attack. That chance shows how in control Liverpool are of things.

April 27, 2022, 8:26 PM

Villarreal goes on the break but can't make it count

Pedraza brought a little pace to the counter but Chukwueze's touch wasn't good as he lost the ball to a Liverpool defender. Triple change incoming from Emery.

April 27, 2022, 8:24 PM

61' Lo Celso enters the book too

The danger of Villarreal's style is catching up to them. It takes a team as good as Liverpool to make them pay but as cards and goals mount, the future becomes bleak for the Yellow Submarine.

April 27, 2022, 8:20 PM

Well, that escalated quickly

April 27, 2022, 8:17 PM

The floodgates have opened! Salah slips in Mane and it's 2-0

The mountain may now be too high for Villarreal to climb as Salah's ball evades the entire defense for Mane to score.

April 27, 2022, 8:13 PM

Welp ... that was fortunate

A very lucky bounce for the Reds, but they find the back of the net. It was clearly a cross from Henderson, but it deflects off the defender and gets over Rulli. Cruel for Villarreal, really.


That's one way to score! 1-0 Liverpool!

Henderson will claim that he meant it but his cross took a wicked deflection on the way into the box catching Rulli in no man's land. Goal Liverpool!

April 27, 2022, 8:11 PM

49' Fabinho scores! BUT IT WON'T COUNT

Virgil van Dijk was offside before heading the ball back to Fabinho for the finish. Liverpool are starting the second half much like they finished the first.

April 27, 2022, 8:08 PM

Back underway and now Estupinan is on a yellow card

This will make defending a little harder as he got a yellow for pulling Salah off of the ball.

April 27, 2022, 8:06 PM

We've reached the half and its level between the sides.

Liverpool have taken 12 shots but only produced .82 xG from them so far. The Reds are dominating possession and Villarreal only has one shot so far. Emery will feel okay about this though as they've been a strong second half team in previous matches.

April 27, 2022, 7:58 PM

41' Saved by the woodwork!

Rulli was in a good position but Thiago's shot from far out hit the post before resulting in a goal kick. Probably the best chance of the day so far.

April 27, 2022, 7:43 PM

Each time Villarreal advances...

... someone from Liverpool is there to press. Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho, Thiago and Mane all pressured Villarreal attackers before they finally lost the ball but it feels like Villarreal doesn't know how to play through Klopp's press.

April 27, 2022, 7:39 PM

As we approach the 33rd minute ...

Eight shots for Liverpool and zero for Villarreal. Just as expected, the visitors have 10 behind the ball and are squarely focused on going on the counter. The Reds are knocking on the door, and it at least feels like it won't be long until they score.


32' The first yellow goes to Virgil van DIjk

Villarreal were getting into a good position and van Dijk had to contain Chukwueze at all costs earning himself a place in the referee's book.

April 27, 2022, 7:34 PM

Villarreal still haven't registered a shot yet

It's all Liverpool so far, Trent Alexander-Arnold's corner couldn't find a teammate but Villarreal can't get out of their own half. They're defending better but it feels like a matter of time until Liverpool scores.

April 27, 2022, 7:26 PM

15' Rulli with a good save!

It was a weird shot from Luiz Diaz that skidded off the ground but Rulli holds strong as Liverpool registers their first shot on target.

April 27, 2022, 7:18 PM

11' There goes that man again!

Liverpool are knocking! Salah gets into space and Mane can't get his header on target. It was from a tough angle but something will need to change sooner than later as Villarreal isn't limiting chances.

April 27, 2022, 7:14 PM

A tad better from Villarreal

It's a bit improved, but still very little to see from the visitors. They've gotten the ball deep in the attacking half, and they won a corner, but Parejo's cross was awful, falling right to the head of the first-post defender.


7' Liverpool has a corner and it comes close!

Mane trips up trying to get on the end of things. The Reds earn another corner from the exchange but they can't make it count. There's a clear danger for Villarreal early as Liverpool are already comfortable in possession. 

April 27, 2022, 7:10 PM

88 percent possession for Liverpool

We are only seven minutes in, but Villarreal are barely even seeing the ball. The passing from the Reds has been crisp, and their marking has also frustrated the midfield of the visitors in the early going.


Salah gets behind the defense early

While Thiago couldn't find him with the pass, Villarreal doesn't want to see the back of Salah too often in the early going. Unai Emery will surely keep an eye on their defensive shape.

April 27, 2022, 7:06 PM

And we're off!

Can Villarreal pull an upset or will Liverpool make good on their home field advantage?

April 27, 2022, 7:02 PM

Manuel Trigueros on Unai Emery


"He really pays attention to detail and dissects everything, so that his players have everything as simple as possible or have as many solutions as they need before a match."


Jordan Henderson welcomes the visiting supporters


"I would also like to welcome Villarreal and their supporters. Having knocked out Bayern in the previous round, their place in this stage of the Champions League is not only a great story for them, it is also richly merited and we will be giving them every bit of respect that they deserve."

April 27, 2022, 6:25 PM
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