Villarreal vs Liverpool live - as it happened: Europa League 2015-16
Marcelino got the better of Klopp on home turf in a tight tactical affair that will see the yellow submarine surface with a slight advantage at Anfield in the second leg. Here's how it happened
Villareal 1 - 0 Liverpool
4th in La Liga took on 6th in the Premier League in the Europa League semi-final at El Madrigal, it was a close-fought contest that could have fallen either way. Villarreal grabbed a win at the very death, Adrian tapping in the winner, but Barcelona loanee Denis Suarez' first touch from Bruno's cross-field pass was the sublimely decisive touch. His perfectly-weighted pass across the box meant victory for Villarreal.
Klopp appeared content with a draw and came very close to his objective, Liverpool understandably sitting deeper than usual with Lovren and Kolo Toure the makeshift central partnership.
Liverpòol's lines repeated deeper and deeper as the game went on, and playing on the back foot ultimately cost them.
Facing a handful with Bakambu and Soldado up front, Denis suarez threatening from wide and Mario Gaspar (who scored that memorable volley for Spain vs England in their last friendly) on the overlap, it's no wonder that Klopp would have been pleased to take things to Anfield honours-even.
Benteke is back, but Liverpool didn't play enough football in the opposition half for the Liverpudlian forwards to make any real difference. Still, Alberto Moreno might have smuggled a win out of the Mediterrean coastal town for the 'Pool if he had converted his break-away chance after Mignolet's superb stop at the other end. At 1-0, nothing is decided yet.
Here's how it happened:
Adrian is making a habit of this, the last time he was in a Europa League semi-final he scored too - in both legs - for Atlético Madrid v Valencia.
The Madrigal goes mad! It's hugs all around for a well-managed game that could have gone either way.
Min 93 Full-Time! Villarreal 1 - 0 Liverpool
Min 92 | GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLLL.... Villarreal snatch it at the death!
Min 90 | Marcelino was leaping into the air like a furious elvish wizard as Moreno broke away there, furious with the massive chasm in the middle of his defence. Comedy moment.
Min 87 | Mignolet to Liverpool's rescue, paradón! What a save! Bakambu raced through and sought the corner, only for Mignolet to stretch out a strong arm and keep it out.. From the corner Alberto Moreno raced clear practically the length of the pitch but his shot is just high..
Min 85 | Hard to decide which manager is more exhausted after every match, both Klopp and Marcelino shadowboxing in their technical cages. Kolo Toure offering some encouragement to his team, 4 mins to go.
Min 83 | More of the game being played in Liverpool's half now as the home side press for a win, the reds look happy to leave with their goal unsullied and everything to play for at Anfield.
Min 80 | Villarreal have a free in a dangerous position, but Denis Suarez takes the danger out of it by floating the ball straight into Mignolet's untroubled grasp.
Min 79 | Klopp looked calm for a minute there, then pulled one of those faces that you usually only see on outdated walls of colonial souvenir collectors and berates Ibe for something, Ibe ignores and carries on playing football.
Min 76 | Musacchio sprints on as Bailly limps off, a standing ovation for the centreback who's had a very solid night but just pulled up with thigh trouble.
Min 74 | Some AS English black magic summoning the curse of the commentator to encourage a goal: this one has 0-0 written all over it.
Min 72 | Jonathan Dos Santos comes off after putting in a decent shift to be replaced by Samu Castillejo, a tricky wide man with a few tricks and a bit of pace in the bag.
Min 70 | Some revenge exacted by Soldado with a fairly high tackle on Lucas Leiva, final warning from the referee for the ex-Spurs man.
Min 67 | Lucas gets the third yellow of the match for a challenge on Pina, Klopp and Marcelino are shouting and gesturing furiously at each other from the safety of their respective technical boxes, but just when it looks like one of them might lose it and start throwing slaps they pull each other in for a hug. Awww... Lovely ...
Min 65 | Firmino! Off the post! Smart save from Asenjo.
Min 63 | The locals whistling furiously as Costa lies on the ground bleeding after a hand-off by Lovren in the mouth , but the replay shows Costa basically ran straight into the Croatian's elbow.
Min 58 | Samu Castillejo and Cristian Benteke warming up on the sidelines, how long before we see another change? Benteke might have that individual moment that could break the deadlock, Jordan Ibe, on for Coutinho, trying to link with Milner up front but nothing doing so far.
Min 56 | "Si se puede! Si se puede!" sings the Villarreal faithful: "Yes we can, yes we can", after a dangerous moment in the Liverpool box that had Soldado and Bakambu both involved, the ball rolled to Mario Gaspar who tried something near-impossible from wide right of Mignolet's area, should have crossed.
Min 52 | Lovren manhandles Soldado in midfield, the crowd is baying for cards, but the referee again declines to pull out a yellow, correct decision. The ref has been discreet tonight, letting the game be played, the way refs should be.
Min 50 | Asenjo flaps at a cross, then his defence work the ball out calmly, this team is 4th in La Liga behind Real Madrid in 3rd, no surprise that they're quite good at this football thing.
Min 48 | Ufff... Bakambu nearly nods the yellows ahead, hits the post from a near-post corner.
Min 46 | We're back on at El Madrigal, can either team edge this one?
Two very well matched teams feeling each other out and searching for chinks in the armour, both have had half-chances, Joe Allen with a good opportunity early in the half, Soldado later on, the two managers spent most of the half in the technical area organising and tweaking, Klopp probably has more to do with a fairly makeshift defence and key players missing in key positions.
Both have played it safe, the home side with 56% of possession, Liverpool have threatened through Milner's delivery and Coutinho has looked lively, shifting the ball to shoot well, but only bothering the bats with his sky-high efforts so far. Marcelino will want a win to take to Anfield, and Bakambu and Soldado have promised, but how Klopp would celebrate an away goal...
Min 46 | Half-Time: Villarreal 0 - 0 Liverpool
Min 45 | Soldado upends Kolo Toure with a studs-up challenge from behind, looked painful, but the ref doesn't deem it deserved of a yellow. Kolo respectfully disagrees.
Min 42 | UYyyyyyyy.... Soldado controls into his own path for a shot, surprising even himself by finding the ball perfectly set up for a strike, his curler isn't curly enough, Mignolet watches it gratefully wide.
Min 40 | Clyne makes tracks down the right, his attempted shot deflects across the box and Coutinho again troubles the heads in row Z.
Min 38 | Villarreal 0 - 0 Liverpool
Min 36 | Mario Gaspar with a chance for a shot on target there, well blocked by the Liverpool defence. A very even encounter so far, not much between the two sides, both creating half-chances and attacking with intent.
Min 32 | Milner now pops up on the left, but his cross is overhit. Still waiting for that first moment of quality that might open this one up.
Min 29 | Quick feet again from Coutinho to get the ball out of his feet and snap his shot off, but it balloons over.
Min 24 | Coutinho wins it with some concerted Liverpool pressure in the middle, but Eric Bailly times his challenge well and wins it back. Plenty of effort from both sides, the game being played at a good pace.
Min 22 | Better from Villarreal as the ball pings around the area, Pina getting the decisive shot but Mignolet judged the curling effort well down to his left, good save.
Min 20 | 20 minutes in and Liverpool will be the happier team, Villareal are dropping very deep and haven't really troubled that defensive pairing of Lovren and Toure.
Min 15 | Lucas smashes one from distance which looked close from our angle here, but wasn't actually close. His last goal for Liverpool came in the Europa League, back in the 2010/11 season.
Min 13 | Nice nutmeg from Denis Suarez on Joe Allen in the midfield, he's had an excellent season for the submarinos and speculation that he's going back to parent club Barça this summer is rife.
Min 11 | Ufff... Free-kick dinked over the back for Soldado who volleys dangerously across goal. Close.
Min 10 | Cedric Bakambu is one to watch for the Liverpudlians tonight, he's got 9 already in the competition, just one behind top-scorer Aritz Aduriz for Athletic Bilbao.
Min 8 | Marcelino roaring instructions onto the field of play, neither side really setting this one alight yet.
Min 4 | Clyne and Milner work a little room down the right, Joe Allen struck it low first time, but Asenjo was down quickly to snuff out that effort.
Min 3 | Roberto Soldado starts today for Villarreal, on the previous two occasions he's started against Liverpool he's scored 0 and watching his team ship 9. Spurs lost 4-0 and 5-0 in his time in north London.
Min 1 | Game on at the Madrigal! Villareal playing from right to left in their canary yellow, Liverpool in familiar red.
We're ready to go here, let's see how Klopp's side can manage with all these injuries and the loss of Sakho.
Villarreal: Asenjo; Mario Gaspar, Bailly, Víctor Ruiz, Juame Costa; Dos Santos, Pina, Bruno, Denis Suárez; Soldado, Bakambu
Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Lovren Moreno; Lucas, Allen, Milner; Lallana, Coutinho, Firmino.
If Villarreal reach their first European final at the fourth attempt it will be because of a carefully cultivated blend of home-grown players and intelligent purchases.
No one believes they have an easy task in their Europa League semi-final against Liverpool, one of the game's giants with a clutch of European silverware in their trophy cabinet. But the Spanish side's appearance in the last four at El Madrigal on Thursday vindicates the 19-year strategy of their Valencia-born billionaire president Fernando Roig.
Last year the club reinvested the 55.5 million euros they received from high-profile sales, including Gabriel Paulista to Arsenal and Luciano Vietto to Atlético Madrid to set up them up for the new season.
They brought in former Spain striker Roberto Soldado for 10 million euros and Cédric Bakambu for seven million, with the Congolese their top scorer on 22 goals in all competitions.
The newcomers have blended with regulars Bruno Soriano, Mario Gaspar, Jaume Costa and Manu Trigueros, who all came through the academy, the fruit of a 42 million euro investment in the youth structure by Roig when he first assumed control.
With Villarreal on course for a return to the Champions League next season -- they are four points clear in fourth place in La Liga with three games left -- the mix looks potent for a team who have spent just 16 of their 93 years in the top flight.
However, the club's focus this week is on beating five-times European champions Liverpool and, having come so close to reaching a major continental final in 2004, 2006 and 2011, Villarreal are determined to finally seize the moment.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp called for bravery from his players if they are to overcome Villarreal to reach the Europa League final and maintain their hopes of Champions League football next season.
Klopp's men produced a sensational second-half comeback from 3-1 down to beat his old side Borussia Dortmund 4-3 at Anfield to reach the last four.
However, the German warned against complacency as, despite their lack of European pedigree compared to the English giants, Villarreal are enjoying a great season.
They sit fourth in La Liga behind perennial powerhouses Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.
"We have to play brave football," Klopp told UEFA.com. "We are now in the semi-finals. We got there because we deserved it, and now we have to show we are strong enough to go through. They are having a wonderful season, they are a wonderful club in a small city. It is clear there are a lot of smart people behind their success."
Klopp will be without a number of players crucial to Liverpool's upturn in fortunes over recent weeks. French defender Mamadou Sakho didn't travel to Spain on Wednesday as he awaits the result of a UEFA investigation into an alleged failed doping test.
Emre Can, Divock Origi and captain Jordan Henderson are also sidelined by injury.