Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool (2-5 agg): Champions League semi-final, second leg – as it happened | Champions League

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Full time: Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool

That’s it! Liverpool are through to their tenth European Cup final, and will play either Manchester City or Real Madrid in Paris on 28 May. They were given a helluva fright by Villarreal, who deservedly led 2-0 at half-time, but Jurgen Klopp’s half-time teamtalk and the introduction of the wonderful Luis Diaz turned the game on its head.

Liverpool dominated the second half even more than Villarreal did the first, with Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane scoring their goals. Villarreal will regret their cautious start to the second half, at a time when they had Liverpool on the rack, but ultimately the best team went through.

Sid Lowe on Luis Díaz

Klopp speaks!

That’s it for tonight’s blog. I’ll leave you with David Hytner’s report of a dramatic match. Goodnight!

Virgil van Dijk’s verdict

“Hard work. We should forget the first half as soon as possible. The early goal does not help us but we weren’t good enough. We had to dig deep, we had to be very mature, and in the second half we were outstanding with and without the ball.

“[What did Jurgen Klopp say at half-time?] Play football. Play the Liverpool way. Play the way we’ve been playing all season. Get on the ball, have a lot of movement. But also, show how much we want to go to the final.

“Luis Diaz has been incredible. The way he is one v one – it does not matter who he’s facing, he just goes at them without any fear, and if he loses the ball he gets it back as quickly as possible. Go again, go again. And that’s very difficult to defend.

“In the first half we did not play football. There was not enough movement so you make the wrong decisions, and then you lose the ball in difficult situations. If we dwell on the first half when we’re going to Paris, I think we’re being harsh on ourselves. What we’ve done this season can not be taken for granted.

“Whoever we play in the final will be a nightmare to play against. We know City inside out, they know us; we know how intense those games are. And Real Madrid are Real Madrid: such a big club, with a very in-form striker. We’ll see tomorrow. I’m gonna watch it probably.

“There’s no point thinking about a quadruple. You can dream, but you have to be realistic. You saw the first half tonight – we could have been knocked out. That’s football. But it’s something we have to enjoy. For me personally, this time last year I was not even close to playing; now I’m in two finals. We’ll go for it. ”

“So both teams got to enjoy a comeback,” says Matt Dony. “I mean, Liverpool probably enjoyed it more, but at least it was exciting. (Easy to say in hindsight!) I knew very little of Luis Diaz when he signed. £ 37m seems like a ridiculous price tag! Liverpool’s purchasing has really been astonishing. “

I’m intrigued by his career trajectory. He’s 25, but his numbers don’t stand out at all until this season (I think he got six goals from 30 games in the league in 2020-21). He reminds me so much of Luis Suarez.

More from Trent Alexander-Arnold

“We did not play football in the first half, we did not pick up the second balls. They played the game they wanted to and we allowed them to do that. It was difficult for us. In the second half we played the way we needed to play and controlled the game a lot better. One bad half over the two legs… we can concede that as long as we get the job done.

“It’s always nice to get the job done on Tuesday, so we can watch the game tomorrow knowing that we’re already there. It could be another amazing game. Either opponents deserves to get to the final, so I’m excited to see who we’ll get. “

Fabinho’s reaction

“They gave everything in the first half. We knew the first 15-20 minutes would be really important; they scored early and that gave them confidence [and got the fans going]. It was maybe our hardest first half of the season. But after the first goal we controlled the game and now we’re in the final.

“When I received the ball from Mo Salah my first thought was to pass, but I was not sure whether Sadio was offside so I decided to shoot. I think it was the best option! ”

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s reaction

“We do not make these Champions League semis easy for ourselves: Roma away, Barca at home and now here. They played very well in the first half, but we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half and did what we needed to do.

“We expected it to be difficult in the first half. Sometimes you can not control the game how you want to. But we got it done and we’ve booked our ticket to Paris. ”

The Villarreal players are going on a lap of honor; quite right too. There’s a lovely atmosphere at El Madrigal, with both sets of fans celebrating in different ways.

Full time: Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool

That’s it! Liverpool are through to their tenth European Cup final, and will play either Manchester City or Real Madrid in Paris on 28 May. They were given a helluva fright by Villarreal, who deservedly led 2-0 at half-time, but Jurgen Klopp’s half-time teamtalk and the introduction of the wonderful Luis Diaz turned the game on its head.

Liverpool dominated the second half even more than Villarreal did the first, with Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane scoring their goals. Villarreal will regret their cautious start to the second half, at a time when they had Liverpool on the rack, but ultimately the best team went through.

90 min Two minutes of added time.

89 min Liverpool break four on two. Mane picks out Salah, who is off balance and shoots wide.

CAPOUE IS SENT OFF!

86 min The disappointment is all too much for Villarreal. Etienne Capoue, who made both goals in the first half, has now been sent off. He was on a yellow card and took out Curtis Jones, a challenge born of frustration. It was a clear bookable offence. The home fans applaud him off the nonetheless field.

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84 min Pau Torres is booked for a late, ultra-cynical tackle on Mane. Liverpool want him sent off; the referee ignores them. It was somewhere between a yellow- and a red-card offence.

84 min Fabinho, whose goal dragged Liverpool away from the precipice, is replaced by James Milner.

82 min “For 45 minutes that was more exciting than it needed to be,” says Bill Jones. “It’s good to see things returning to just one more boring Champions League win.”

If it stays like this, Liverpool will have won all six away games in this season’s competition. That can’t have happened too often (though Bayern definitely did it two seasons ago).

81 min Lo Celso is booked for Fabinhoing Fabinho.

81 min Rulli makes a fine save with his legs to deny Curtis Jones after a mistake from Pau Torres. Villarreal’s collective noggin has gone.

80 min And two changes for Liverpool. Boulaye Dia and Raul Albiol are replaced by Serge Aurier and Manu Trigueros.

79 min Multiple changes for Liverpool, whose attention now turns to Spurs on Saturday. Jordan Henderson, Curtis Jones and Konstantinos Tsimikas replace Keita, Thiago and Robertson.

77 min Parejo’s free-kick from the left flashes just wide of the far post. I think it took a slight touch, possibly off Robertson’s head, though a goalkick was given.

77 min Alexander-Arnold is booked for pulling back Pedraza. Yellow cards do not matter at this stage, unless you get two of them.

Rulli, who has had a bit of nightmare, charges 40 yards from goal to challenge Mane but only manages to tackle fresh air. Mane moves away from him, withstands Lo Celso’s desperate challenge and rolls the ball slowly into the empty net.

Virgil van Dijk joins in the fun after Mane scored the third goal for the Reds.
Virgil van Dijk joins in the fun after Mane scored the third goal for the Reds. Photograph: Eric Alonso / Getty Images

GOAL! Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool (Mane 75; agg 2-5)

Liverpool’s comeback is complete!

Sadio Mane nickes the ball from Geronimo Rulli before scoring the third goal.
Sadio Mane nickes the ball from Geronimo Rulli before scoring the third goal. Photograph: Pablo Morano / Reuters

74 min Villarreal know it’s over. And though they have ultimately been beaten by a better team, they will forever wonder what might have happened had they not started the second half so cagily. Their approach, though understandable, invited trouble, and they got it.

71 min He does not play in the same position. But in his skill, improvisation, charisma and sheer irrepressibility, Luis Diaz reminds me so much of Luis Suarez. He’s an incredible find; this time last year he wasn’t even a regular at Porto.

70 min That was a really good header from Diaz, who was backpedalling and off balance but strained his neck muscles to power a header towards goal. He has done unto this game as Vinnie Jones did to Gazza.

69 min Two changes for Villarreal: Alfonso Pedraza and Samuel Chukwueze replace Gerard Moreno, who has been struggling with his hamstring since around the half-hour mark, and Francis Coquelin.

Diaz’s introduction changed the entire match, and it’s fitting that he should score. Alexander-Arnold curled a superb inswinging cross with his left foot, and Diaz ran beyond a static defense to force a downward header through the legs of Rulli. Both goals have gone through the legs of Rulli, though there was nothing much he could do about that one.

GOAL! Villarreal 2-2 Liverpool (agg: 2-4; Diaz 67)

Liverpool are heading to Paris, and they have Luis Diaz to thank!

Luis Diaz bundles the ball in into the net.
Luis Diaz bundles the ball in into the net. Photograph: Javier García / REX / Shutterstock

67 min The resulting corner is headed not far wide by Konate. It’s all Liverpool now.

66 min: Diaz hits the post! This fella’s a magician. He wriggles away from Foyth and Capoue, improvising all the while, before hitting a shot that brushes Albiol and deflects onto the outside of the far post!

65 min Dia, who has done very little apart from score the opening goal that changed the entire mood of the tie, has a chance to play Moreno through but hits it straight at Konate. The angle was not great but that was still an opportunity for Villarreal.

63 min Capoue overruns the ball, lunges at Fabinho and is booked. For a split second I thought he was going to be sent off, but a yellow card was the right decision.

That goal has been coming since half-time. Fabinho had a rare wander forward and found Salah on the right. He poked the ball back infield to Fabinho, in space on the right side of the area, and he thrashed a shot that went straight through the legs of Rulli. That’s a pretty bad mistake from the keeper I’m afraid.

GOAL! Villarreal 2-1 Liverpool (agg: 2-3; Fabinho 62)

Liverpool are back in front in the tie!

Fabinho fires Liverpool back into the lead.
Fabinho fires Liverpool back into the lead. Photograph: Aitor Alcalde / UEFA / Getty Images

60 min Diaz has looked sharp and full of purpose since coming on at half-time. £ 37m my foot; he’s already worth twice that.

59 min Liverpool have been better since half-time but I also think Villarreal have become more cautious. I know it’s human nature, especially when you are the underdog, but their aggressive approach worked so well in the first half.

57 min Diaz shins a scissor kick over the bar. That looked a decent chance, though I’d like to see a replay before judging him unfavorably.

Diaz blows a big chance.
Diaz blows a big chance. Photograph: Javier García / REX / Shutterstock

56 min A corner is half cleared to Thiago, who shoots straight at Rulli from the edge of the area. Liverpool look the likelier scorers at the moment.

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