LIVERPOOL are on the verge of the Champions League final after breaking Villarreal’s resistance 2-0 in the semifinal first leg match at Anfield, Thursday (28/4) early morning WIB.
The patience of the Reds–Liverpool’s nickname–facing Villarreal’s defensive game bears sweet results as well as bringing them closer to history to achieve a quadruple.
Two goals in two minutes in the second half broke the defensive game scheme of Unai Emery’s squad.
Read also: Liverpool Successfully Beat Villarreal
Villarreal tried to frustrate Liverpool with a defensive game that successfully led them to get rid of Juventus and Bayern Munich in the previous round. However, the Reds managed to drown the team nicknamed the Yellow Submarine with a patient game.
Liverpool needed 53 minutes before breaking through the Villarreal defense when Jordan Henderson’s cross hit Pervis Estupinan and the ball nestled into the net.
Two minutes later, Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool’s lead to move the Premier League club closer to reaching their third Champions League final in five years.
“To be honest, it was a brilliant game. We kept them quiet, because they had a counter-attack threat,” said Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp.
“We had a lot of good moments. Both of our goals were incredible. The attack and pressing was incredible and the players were focused on the game from start to finish in the last second.”
Klopp asked his players to stay focused on the second leg match, next week, in Spain. Moreover, Villarreal’s mainstay, Gerard Moreno, is likely to return for the Champions League semifinal second leg match.
Klopp underlined the return of Moreno, who missed the first leg through injury.
“For the next leg, Gerard Moreno will be back and maybe another player, so it’s not over, but it doesn’t matter,” Klopp said.
Liverpool defender Andy Robertson said Henderson’s cross that set up Pervis Estupinan’s own goal was the turning point for the Reds to score a second two minutes later, breaking down Villarreal’s defence.
“We had a bit of momentum after the first goal and the noise here (Anfield) is incredible. That got us to the second goal,” said Robertson.
“Our intensity has been very high in the last few games. We have a packed schedule but we are enjoying it. There is still work to do but we are happy,” he continued.
Villarreal coach Unai Emery insists his team will cause more problems for Liverpool in the second leg match. In the first leg, he acknowledged Liverpool’s superiority from all aspects.
However, playing in the second leg at home makes Emery confident his team can make a comeback.
Emery has guided Villarreal to the last four for the second time in the club’s history with an extraordinary struggle to beat the likes of Juventus and Bayern Munich.
However, they know they will need to change the game significantly in the second leg if they are to score at least two goals next week.
“We can’t dispute the result because they deserved it. For us it is not a good result but we will try to dream and do something different at our home,” said Emery.
“Next week’s game will be very different from tonight’s. It’s very important at home to change something, maybe tactically. They will suffer more than tonight,” he continued. (AFP/UEFA/OL-1)