Liverpool’s second-half resurgence saw them beat Villarreal 3-2 in their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg and book their place in the final.
The hosts faced a monumental task after losing the first leg 2-0, especially with Arnaut Danjuma missing, but it felt far more realistic after just three minutes.
Pervis Estupiñán swung in a cross that Étienne Capoue nudged back across goal and, having never previously scored a UCL goal, Boulaye Dia was on hand to finish.
Estadio de la Cerámica had become a cauldron of noise, with the fans receiving further encouragement as Dani Parejo struck marginally wide and Gerard Moreno’s header was blocked by Andrew Robertson.
In stark contrast, Jürgen Klopp cut a frustrated figure as his side struggled to stamp their authority on the game, and a stray Naby Keïta pass could have resulted in a ‘Yellow Submarine’ second. Moreno played through Giovani Lo Celso, but Alisson rushed out and was able to stop the ball without conceding a penalty despite the hosts’ protests.
The tie was leveled moments later, as Francis Coquelin leapt through the air to meet Étienne Capoue’s cross, leaving Alisson rooted to the spot with his header.
Luis Díaz was introduced at HT as Liverpool tried to turn the tide and Trent Alexander-Arnold’s audacious attempt gave the hosts a scare, deflecting off Coquelin and behind off the top of the crossbar.
Just after the hour mark, Fabinho fired a shot at Gerónimo Rulli who made a complete mess of his attempt to save it, allowing the ball to squirm through his legs. A mere five minutes after Liverpool’s first of the night, Díaz marked his impressive substitute display by scoring a second, heading Alexander-Arnold’s cross past Rulli, who once again saw the ball go through his legs. In a complete capitulation, Rulli had a rush of blood to the head as he sprinted out of his goal in an attempt to reach Keïta’s through ball, but was beaten to it by Sadio Mané, who kept his cool to slot home into the empty net.
On the night Villarreal lost their undefeated UCL record at home this season in addition to being knocked out, things got even worse in the 86th minute as Capoue received a second yellow for a late tackle on Curtis Jones.
Meanwhile, Liverpool kept their hopes of a quadruple intact, while they have still only lost once in 29 matches across all competitions.
By Danny Lewis