Liverpool are on the brink of a third Champions League final in five seasons after breaking Villarreal’s resistance to win the first leg of their semi-final 2-0 at Anfield on Wednesday.
Following their unexpected win in the quarterfinals against Bayern Munich, Villarreal went head-to-head with the favorite, Liverpool, who have never lost at Anfield at this stage in the European Cup. They have won 9 of their 11 matches. Villarreal’s tactic to defend deep to neutralize the hosts paid off in the first half, keeping the scores level, but Thiago only hit the post with a long-range effort.
Villarreal’s steady resistance was broken early in the second half with two goals in less than two minutes. Liverpool dictated the tempo of the Villarreal match and suffocated the Spanish team with their football skills.
Henderson helped Liverpool into the lead when his cross deflected off Estupinan into the net, moments before Mane poked the ball beyond Geronimo Rulli into the bottom corner to further extend the Merseyside club’s advantage.
Liverpool could have scored more than the two they did. Both of which came in quick succession early in the second half. Villarreal, meanwhile, hardly got a sniff of the ball in the attacking third of the pitch and Alisson was almost a complete spectator. Villarreal will have another chance to prove themselves when they face Liverpool for their second leg of the semifinals on Tuesday, May 3.