Liverpool 2 - 0 Villarreal summary: score, goals, highlights, 2021/22 Champions League semi-final first leg
Liverpool vs Villarreal: as it happened
Liverpool vs Villarreal: headlines
- First leg played almost entirely in Villarreal half
- Henderson's deflected cross beat Rulli to give Liverpool lead early in second half
- Mané doubled Liverpool's advantage two minutes later
- Second leg at Estadio de la Cerámica on Tuesday 3 May
Well, we had said good night and good luck, but Alfredo Relaño has just published his analysis of the game, so here's the translation. Basically he thinks Liverpool look pretty good, and used their tactics to stifle the life out of Villarreal.
Thank you and good night
On that note, we're going to wrap up this live feed. It's going to take a fairly major turnaround for Villarreal to stop Liverpool from reaching their third Champions League final in five years, then. As for the other semi-final tie, well, the winner of that one's anybody's guess.
Be sure to join us for live coverage of both second legs next week. Liverpool visit Villarreal on Tuesday, before Manchester City take on Real Madrid at the Bernabéu the following day. Can't wait. Thanks for reading. Bye!
"Best Liverpool team I have ever seen"
More praise for Liverpool, this time from Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport:
Robertson: "We would have liked one more"
“We had a bit of momentum after the first goal and the noise in here was incredible," Andy Robertson has told BT Sport on UK television. "It took us to the second one. We would have liked one more but a clean sheet and two goals, we can’t argue with that."
Thiago named Man of the Match
Thiago, who is playing some decent-ish football at the mo, has scooped the Man of the Match award.
Villarreal must emulate Inter's class of '65 to go through
Spanish soccer stats guru Mister Chip notes that Liverpool have only ever once been beaten in a European knockout tie after winning the first leg at home by two or more goals.
That sole occasion came 57 years ago, in a 1964/65 European Cup semi-final against Inter Milan. Goals by Roger Hunt, Ian Callaghan and Ian St John gave Liverpool a 3-1 win at Anfield, but in the return in Milan, Mario Corso, Joaquín Peiró and Giacinto Fachetti earned the Nerazzurri a 3-0 victory that took them into the final at the Reds' expense.
No shots on target for Villarreal
Opta note that this is the first time under Unai Emery that Villarreal have failed to manage a single shot on target.
Liverpool "make tricky encounters look straightforward"
Some praise for Liverpool's performance tonight from Gary Lineker:
Pau Torres: "We still have confidence"
Villarreal's Pau Torres has been talking to Spanish TV channel Movistar:
Goals conceded early in second half:
"They punish you for any mistake you make right away. We held out well in the first half, but at the start of the second half they overwhelmed us a little. We couldn't hold out."
"We still have confidence. One goal puts you back in the tie. We're going to play our game and we still have plenty to say in this tie."
Peeep peeep peeeep! Liverpool have completely dominated and, after being frustrated by Villarreal in the first half, have taken a big step towards the final with two goals after the break. After Sadio Mané doubled the Reds' lead, it looked like they would go on and get at least one more; that they didn't will be the source of some relief for Villarreal. Unai Emery's men have a mountain to climb in the second leg, sure, but still have some hope.
Fabinho is penalised for a foul on Aurier, and Villarreal have a last-gasp chance to swing it into the mixer and possibly snatch something.
Lo Celso whips it into the box, but Liverpool clear, and that will be that!
Two minutes of time added on. It has ended up being a very comfy evening indeed for Liverpool.
Torres lifts a long ball over the top of the Liverpool defence to Dia, who chests it down in the right-hand channel and advances towards the area. He fires in a low shot that Alisson grabs hold of without too much fuss... and the offside flag is up. That would have been Villarreal's first shot on target.
On comes Alcácer, for Danjuma.
72.7% possession for Liverpool, according to the latest Opta stats at my disposal. To be honest, I'm surprised it's not even more for the home team.
Paco Alcácer is preparing to come on for Villarreal.
Jota feeds it out to the left to Origi, who takes on Aurier. Origi's low ball into the box finds Jota, but the Portuguese can't bring it under his control, and the chance is lost.
Another couple of changes for Liverpool. Alexander-Arnold and Díaz make way for Joe Gomez and Divock Origi.
That's a good chance for Díaz to make it three for Liverpool. Released into the Villarreal box, he burns past Aurier and gets his left foot behind a powerful shot across goal, but he gets his angles wrong and the ball flies across the face of the six-yard box.
Mané draws level with Drogba
Sadio Mané's goal was his 14th in the knockout stages of the Champions League - a joint record for an African player, shared with Didier Drogba.
Raúl Albiol is left in a heap on the turf, and in some pain, after being scythed down by an overzealous Jota challenge. The Portuguese escapes a booking.
Villarreal make a triple change. Serge Aurier, Manu Trigueros and Boulaye Dia are on for Estupiñán, Parejo and Chukwueze.
Liverpool make a couple of subs, too. Henderson and Mané are replaced by Naby Keïta and Diogo Jota.
It feels like a matter of time before Liverpool get a third. First, Van Dijk receives some 40 yards out and, to shouts of "shoot", does just that. He gets plenty of welly on it, and the ball is clearly moving all over the place, because Rulli gets a panicked punch to the effort. He's lucky not to fist it into this own net.
Díaz then cuts inside from the left, before working a yard of space to shoot and sending in a strike which, via a deflection, flies just past Rulli's far post.
For just a moment, Liverpool think they've made it three. Robertson volleys Alexander-Arnold's deep right-wing cross in past Rulli, but the flag is up against the Scot. Replays show he was very clearly off.
A minute later, Díaz plays a low ball into the box towards the penalty spot, but it's too far ahead of Henderson, and Villarreal survive.
At one end, Pedraza scampers forward down the left wing and manages to pull it back for Danjuma at the top of the box. The Dutchman can't bring the ball under his spell, though. I make that Villarreal's first attack of the second half.
At the other end, Lo Celso is booked for pulling down Robertson. The Scot delivers the free-kick into the box, but overhits it.
Villarreal made a change after that second Liverpool goal, by the way. Alfonso Pedraza came on for Coquelin.
"We shall not, we shall not be moved," sing the Liverpool fans. Anfield is jumping.
And still Liverpool pin Villarreal back. Salah tries to wriggle his way into shooting space in the box, before tumbling under Torres' challenge. The home fans scream for a penalty, but Szymion Marciniak says no.
The floodgates are open. It's two!
Again Salah plays the pass. He collects on the edge of the box, before feeding the ball through the eye of the needle to Mané's run into the area. Released in behind the defence, he slips his finish underneath Rulli, and Liverpool are now in total charge of this tie.
Goal! Liverpool take the lead! A picture-book goal it is not.
Salah slips Henderson into crossing space on the right, and when the Liverpool captain delivers into the box, his ball takes a big old touch off Estupiñán's left leg, wrong-footing Rulli. The goalkeeper can only get a weak hand to it and help it on into the net.
That's nice combination play by Alexander-Arnold and Mané, the latter touching it back to the former to whip in a cross towards Díaz. The Colombian gets a decent amount on his header, but not enough to trouble Rulli.
Estupiñán is booked for dragging down Salah on the right-hand edge of the area, and Liverpool have a chance to lift the ball into the danger area. Alexander-Arnold delivers, but Villarreal clear.
Liverpool come right back at the visitors, though. Alexander-Arnold and Van Dijk both lift in crosses that are repelled by the Submarino Amarillo, before the hosts win themselves yet another corner. Alexander-Arnold takes... and when it's headed down to Fabinho, he turns it into the net - but Van Dijk, who nodded it to the Brazilian, was offside!
Blimey. Torres isn't all that far away from heading into his own net in the first minute of the second half. Salah collects on the right, before clipping an inswinging ball into the box. Torres directs it towards his own goal, but Rulli grabs hold.
Peeeep! We're back up and running at Anfield.
No half-time changes for either side.
Twelve shots for Liverpool, no goals
Liverpool have made a little bit of history with their high shot count and non-existent goal count in that first half. Since Opta began collecting such data, no team has had more attempts in the first half of a Champions League last-four tie without scoring.
Peeep peeep peeeep! That's half time. Villarreal's priority has very clearly been not to concede, and in the main they have succeeded in frustrating Liverpool. The Reds have had plenty of shots, yes, but have created little in the way of genuinely gilt-edged opportunities. That long-range howitzer from Thiago is the closest they have come so far.
Fabinho slips a neat little ball into Salah's run in behind Estupiñán and into the box, but Rulli is quckly off his line to smother it. And the flag was up. A good yard or so offside.
One minute of time added on at Anfield.
Thiago hits the post! From a good 35 yards or so out, he absolutely spanks the ball towards Rulli's top corner, but is denied by the woodwork! That's the closest Liverpool have come, and what a goal it would have been.
Díaz tries to skip past Foyth and into the Villarreal box, but can only drag the defender down and concede a free-kick. The Anfield fans protest, but it's a foul. And while Villarreal have created next to naff all going forward, they're very well organised at the back.
For the first time in a very long while, Villarreal mount an attack. Parejo lifts it high towards Lo Celso's run into the box, but the Argentine is stretching when he connects with the ball, and can only hook a volley high into the stands.
Once more Liverpool get Salah into a shooting position. Alexander-Arnold volleys Robertson's crossfield ball right onto the forward's boot on the penalty spot, but he turns it over. The Reds are getting in plenty of shots now - but are still failing to properly test Rulli.
Mané controls a bouncing ball on the edge of the box, swivels and fires towards Rulli's right-hand corner. It takes a slight touch off Albiol, and flashes wide for a Liverpool corner.
The corner finds Salah at the back post, where the Egyptian catches the dropping ball with a volley that he gets plenty behind - but again it's deflected behind.
Díaz again cuts inside from the right and takes aim at goal. He gets more power behind it this time, but again hits its straight at Rulli.
Van Dijk then becomes the first player to go into the referee's book, after bringing down Chukwueze as Villarreal look to break.
Liverpool win a free-kick in prime shooting territory, some 25 yards out and just to the right. Alexander-Arnold takes... and slaps it straight into the wall. It hits Torres with such force that he needs some medical attention. He looks like he'll be OK.
Just as I say that, Salah goes close to curling in the opener. Mané lays the ball off to the Egyptian, who wraps his foot around a shot that flashes just over Rulli's far top corner.
Alexander-Arnold swings in a corner from the right, but Mané is penalised for a foul on Estupiñán.
Salah then cuts in from the right and feeds Díaz, whose attempt at a first-time pass out to Alexander-Arnold is overhit and flies behind for a Villarreal goal kick.
It's been almost completely one-way traffic, but Liverpool aren't creating too much of real note.
It's all being played in the Villarreal half. Thiago lifts a cross-field pass from the left over to Henderson's run to the back post, but his attempt at a volleyed ball into the middle flies out. It actually hits the outside of Rulli's post, but the keeper had it covered.
Henderson knocks the ball out off Estupiñán and is aggrieved in the extreme when Villarreal get the throw. He gives the assistant referee a sizeable piece of his mind, and Szymon Marciniak has to trot over and have a quiet word with the Liverpool captain.
Robertson wins the ball back and lets fly from a good 40 yards out. It bounces off a Villarreal shirt and behind, and Liverpool have another corner. Robertson's delivery finally falls to Thiago, who's waiting just outside of the area. He hits a bouncing shot that Rulli punches clear, and when the ball is played back into the box, several Liverpool players are offside.
Díaz cuts in from the left and takes aim with a right-footed shot from the edge of the Villarreal area, but it's straight at Gerónimo Rulli. The goalkeeper gets down to scoop it up.
That's lovely link-up play by Salah and Mané. The latter spins and spreads the ball out to the right for the former, who then cuts inside and whips a fine inswinger onto the Senegalese's head. Mané can only direct his effort off target, though.
Villarreal win their first corner of the evening, but Parejo's delivery is weak and is headed away at the near post.
Estupiñán then threads through a neat little ball that releases Danjuma into space to scamper towards the left-hand Liverpool byline, but his cross towards Pau Torres is cut out by Van Dijk. Ah, and Danjuma was offside.
If Mané's first touch had been just a little bit better, that would have been 1-0. Roberton's corner is delivered onto the head of Konaté, who nods it down to Mané in space inside the six-yard box. His control isn't on point, though, and the ball squirms away.
Alexander-Arnold then whips in another Liverpool corner, which Salah gets to first at the near post, but heads well off target.
The ball remains almost entirely in the possession of the hosts. Thiago tries to release Salah into the Villarreal box, but his pass can't find the Egyptian. Back come Liverpool, though. Robertson lifts in a cross towards Henderson that Estupiñán heads away, only for the Reds to win it straight back. This time it's Fabinho that sends the ball into the Villarreal area, but Robertson can only head it behind.
It's all Liverpool ball for the first 90 seconds or so, until Robertson plays a give-and-go with Díaz that the Colombian sends slightly too long. Robertson does his best to wrap his foot around a cross before the ball rolls out for a goal kick, but doesn't manage it.
Peeeeep! Szymon Marciniak gets us underway in Liverpool!
The teams are out at Anfield. We've had the anthem, and Raúl Albiol and Jordan Henderson are currently busying themselves with the coin toss.
Almost time to go!
A reminder, if you really still need one, that the away-goals rule is no more in the Champions League - or, for that matter, any other UEFA club competition.
The referee at Anfield will be Poland's Szymon Marciniak. My colleague Kieran Quaile has put together a short profile of the 41-year-old, whose most recent Champions League run-out was Real Madrid's quarter-final comeback against Chelsea at the Bernabéu.
Liverpool tie Man United's European record
That this is Liverpool's 12th European Cup semi-final means the Reds have equalled Manchester United's English record for appearances in the last four of the competition.
Emery's knockout-tie record outdone only by Zidane
A couple of stats to take note of. Firstly, it's worth pointing out that Villarreal have lost just one out of 12 away European matches under Unai Emery, winning eight and drawing three of the other 11. What's more, Emery has an impressive track record in European knockout ties (PSG meltdown aside, that is): he's won 84% of them - 31 out of 37. Among coaches who have taken charge of at least 10 such clashes, it's a success rate bettered only by Zinedine Zidane.
Salah: the Egyptian's regime off the pitch
Liverpool vs Villarreal: H2H UCL stats
Here, courtesy of our colleagues at SofaScore, is an at-a-glance look at Liverpool and Villarreal's key stats in the Champions League this season.
3,000 travelling fans at Anfield
There'll be some 3,000 Villarreal fans at Anfield for what can, without fear of hyperbole, be described as a historic occasion for the Submarino Amarillo. Courtesy of the club's social-media team, here's some footage of the travelling supporters enjoying a merry old sing-song in Liverpool:
Should you be in need of some guidance on how to watch Liverpool vs Villarreal on the telly or stream it online, might I point you in the direction of our article on how and where to watch the game.
What the coaches said: Unai Emery, Villarreal
Liverpool Champions League favourites, but will respect Villarreal:
“Against Juventus and Bayern we were able to surprise them. Now it’s tougher. We’ve got here because we’ve earned the right to do so. They respect us and they know that we are here because we’ve done impressive things against strong rivals. That doesn’t stop them from being favourites because they’ve got a great team, but they will respect us. It’s tougher for us, but we’re also more excited. We have to be clinical.”
How Liverpool have evolved under Jürgen Klopp:
“I think Liverpool are much improved. They have moments of footballing excellency. They’re a team who run very well, and they play with a lot of intensity. Now, they are also capable of playing in tight spaces, with players like Thiago, Mané or Luis Diaz. They’ve grown a lot and they’ve brought in important players who have given them a great level of playing, a lot of energy and a lot of ability to slow things down too. They’re a team who have the resources to play well against teams who defend with a low block.”
(Photo: Octavio Passos/Getty Images; quotes via villarrealcf.es)
What the coaches said: Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool
Losing the 2016 Europa League final to Unai Emery’s Sevilla:
“That night was a tough one to take, we played a really good first half, should have scored more, scored one more [that] didn’t count, I can't remember the reason anymore, to be honest. But it was game like No.64 or whatever in that season and it was an incredibly tough season for us, a lot of injury problems when we arrived there, players only came back a few days before the final. So, you cannot now really compare football games, especially when six years lie between them. Look, would anything have been different since then if we would have won that night? I don’t think so, to be honest.”
Impressed by Emery’s Villarreal:
“Of course we did the proper analysis. I had a lot of respect for Unai Emery and Villarreal before, because I saw the games but only with one eye against Bayern, Juve a little bit. But meanwhile, I watched them properly and, wow, impressive. Unai looks like, if you watch his team, a detail-obsessed manager who prepares for all different situations in a game and that's what his team is executing. It’s really, really good - different ways to build up, different ways to press, different ways to react on different results. Really, really impressive. Obviously Unai is a world-class coach and is doing an incredible job there.”
(Photo: Andrew Powell/Getty; quotes via liverpoolfc.com)
Three changes each for Liverpool and Villarreal
Liverpool make three changes to the side that began Sunday’s Merseyside derby win over Everton, as Ibrahima Konaté, Jordan Henderson and Luis Díaz return to the Reds' XI. Joel Matip, Naby Keïta and Diogo Jota make way.
Meanwhile, Villarreal boss Unai Emery also makes three changes to his team: Pau Torres, Francis Coquelin and Samu Chukwueze, the visitors’ hero in the second leg against Bayern, come into the line-up in place of Aïssa Mandi, Manu Trigueros and the injured Yeremy Pino.
Pino has been ruled out with a hamstring injury - as has key man Gerard Moreno.
While Liverpool were in action three days ago, by the way, Villarreal haven't played since beating Valencia in LaLiga on Tuesday last week.
Villarreal team news
Starting line-up: Rulli, Foyth, Albiol, Torres, Estupiñán, Coquelin, Parejo, Capoue, Chukwueze, Lo Celso, Danjuma
Liverpool team news
Starting line-up: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson, Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago, Salah, Mané, Díaz
When last Villarreal were in the Champions League semis...
Villarreal's only other Champions League semi-final came in 2005/06 - and on that occasion they also faced Premier League opposition. Then coached by Manuel Pellegrini, Villarreal came up against Arsenal, who took a slender advantage into the second leg in Spain, Kolo Touré's first-half goal at Highbury giving the Gunners a 1-0 win in the opener.
In the return at the Estadio de la Cerámica - then still known as El Madrigal - Villarreal were left to rue a late penalty miss by Juan Roman Riquelme as Arsenal held out for a goalless draw and booked their place in the final, where they lost to Barcelona.
Liverpool and Villarreal's second European clash - again in the semis
Liverpool and Villarreal have been drawn together once before in European competition, clashing in the Europa League semi-finals in 2015/16, Jürgen Klopp’s first season in charge of the Reds.
After an early own goal by Bruno Soriano, strikes by Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana gave Liverpool a 3-0 first-leg win at Anfield, before Adrián López’s solitary second-leg goal proved no more than a consolation for the Groguets.
Once in the final in Basel, however, Liverpool were well beaten by a Sevilla side coached by… Unai Emery.
Liverpool vs Villarreal: welcome
Hello! Welcome to our live coverage of Liverpool and Villarreal’s Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield, where kick off is at 8pm local time (3pm ET/12 noon PT).
This will be Liverpool’s 12th European Cup semi, as the Reds seek a 10th final appearance. If they make it to Paris at the end of May, they'll have the chance to win a seventh continental crown. For Villarreal, who have never before been to a European Cup final, this is only the second time they have made it to the last four.
While Liverpool are evident favourites, though, the Merseysiders have been warned not once, but twice not to underestimate Unai Emery’s Europa League holders. Just ask Juventus and Bayern Munich - both European giants, and both turfed out of this season's knockouts by Villarreal.