A good job done in the first leg of the semi final sees Liverpool almost certainly into the final of the 2022 UEFA Champions League.
As tricky as ever, Unai Emery set up a preferred 4-4-2 in a tactical bid to nullify threats from the home side. Liverpool's 4-3-3 formation which has become identical, consisted of a front three of Salah, Mane and Luis Diaz, with Diogo Jota on the bench.
Right from the opening whistle, Liverpool controlled the game in all departments, hitting the framework twice in the from Thiago and Henderson. January signing, Diaz looked lively as he tested Villareal's Argentine goalkeeper, Geronimo Rulli from range as well having a go at the defence with mazey runs and crosses.
The half ended with just an attempt off target for the spanish side and a booking for Van Dijk after the Centre-back committed a tactical foul on Samuel Chukwueze.
A start to the 2nd half saw Liverpool resume the siege, with exploits down the wings. This pressure paid off in the 53rd minute as Pervis Estupinan turned the ball into his own net, deflecting a Henderson cross, with Goalkeeper Rulli reacting poorly. Tough luck for the Ecuadorian who also got a yellow card earlier on in an effort to stop Mo Salah.
The all important first goal spiked the Anfield fans into action as Liverpool began the ascendancy in taking full control of the tie. Villarreal wanted an immediate response after going down, which led to potentially dangerous attack that ended in Arnaut Danjuma being ruled offside.
Two minutes after the first, a brilliant team play leading to Salah assist saw Mane finish up a 1v1 scenario for the second goal, in a close onside call. Sheer happiness from the Liverpool dugout as the belief of a third Champions League final in five years began to reverberate round the stadium.
A 2-0 scoreline made things difficult for the yellow submarines as they were were skeptical on whether to look for a goal and maintain the defensive structure to avoid conceding more against a team that has scored 14 goals in the last 5 games in all competitions.
Their indecisiveness was of benefit to home side, who switched to game management mode to see out the rest of the match, which was played out beautifully as the Polish referee, Szymon Marciniak brought the game to an end.
There are slim hopes for Villarreal heading into the second leg, nevertheless, this is the Champions League and anything is possible.
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2nd leg details ⬇:
Date 📅 : 3rd May, 2022
🕖: 19:00 GMT
🏟 : Estadio de la Cerámica
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