Semi-final: African Star Edges Liverpool Closer To UCL Final
28 April, 2022
Liverpool hold a good advantage in their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie after defeating Villarreal 2-0 in the first leg at Anfield.
UEFA Champions League
Result: Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal
Date: 27 April 2022
Reds manager Jurgen Klopp made three changes from Sunday's win over Everton, with Ibrahima Konate, Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz getting the starts, while the visitors welcomed back star defender Pau Torres.
The home side were in control from the onset as Diaz and Thiago Alcantara forced Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli into a couple saves in the opening 15 minutes.The woodwork came to Villarreal's rescue on 22 minutes when Henderson saw his cross sail over Rulli and crash against the upright, while Mohamed Salah squandered a good chance by volleying over a few minutes later.
It was one-way traffic for most of the first as the Yellow Submarine were quite happy to sit back soak up the pressure and they were nearly punished five minutes before the break when Thiago rattled the upright with a powerful strike.
The breakthrough for the Reds arrived seven minutes after the break when Henderson's cross took a big deflection and sailed into the back of the net.
It didn't take too long for the Reds to bag a second goal as Salah played in Sadio Mane who poked the ball beyond the on-rushing Rulli for a much-needed two-goal cushion.
The Reds thought they had bagged a third goal on 64 minutes when Andrew Robertson turned home Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross, but the goal was disallowed for an offside.
Klopp opted to freshen up the side for the final 15 minutes, as Mane, Henderson, Diaz and Alexander-Arnold were all withdrawn for Diogo Jota, Naby Keita, Divock Origi and Joe Gomez.
The hosts were able to hold on to possession in the latter stages but Alisson Becker was called upon to make save to deny Boulaye Dia as the hosts held out for the clean sheet.