Liverpool stood tall against the European dominance of Spanish teams by downing 10-man Villareal by three goals to nil in Anfield, thus going through to the Europa League final by 3-1 on aggregate.
Indeed, the Reds showed no nerves on their home ground in their effort to set up a final’s meet against Sevilla on May 18. Villareal’s only home goal did came as a late and nasty surprise in the first leg, but the boys at Anfield shrugged it off as it was nothing as the second leg kicks off.
Daniel Sturridge opens the scoreboard after being benched on the first leg. Within just 8 minutes after the game started, Roberto Firmino turned the ball back into a crowded six-yard box where Sturridge lurked. The Englishman struck but failed to connect cleanly, but the shot deflected off Roberto Soriano and went in.
Unhinged, Villreal still maintained their dangerous breaks play whenever they could but hardly threatened. Simon Mignolet did well to save from Mario Gasper and Jonathan Dos Santos, who blazed over when Cedric Bakambu’s run presented him with an excellent chance seconds before the opener.
But as Adam Lallana pressed relentlessly while Emre Can and James Milner dominate in central midfield just as Firmino provided a constant distraction, Liverpool were effectively in control of the entire game.
Still, the team was in need of a few more goals as the threat of an away goal looms. Then, Roberto Firmino passes a through ball to Sturridge, and the striker finished it off the inside of a post.
Firmino then went forward for Liverpool again, leaving Mateo Musacchio behind to set up Sturridge for a close range. But this time, Sturridge miscued, and Lallana picked it up to steer it home. Then, the night worsened for Villareal soon, as their defender Victor Ruiz was sent off for another yellow.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp was plenty happy with the performance, asserting that they are not in want of quality.
“Wonderful night, brilliant game from my side. What a performance,” he said. “Everyone spoke a lot about this team before I came here. It was all about quality and not good transfers. I came here because I thought they had a nice squad and now we are in the final.”
Meanwhile, Sevilla sets up the meet by beating Shakhtar Donetsk to set up a final encounter against Liverpool. After a thrilling 2-2 first leg draw, they defeated the Ukraine team by 3-1 to advance.