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Champions League – Semi-finals return: Liverpool overthrows Villarreal (3-2) to qualify for the final

The Yellow Submarine believed in it but it is the Reds who will play the final at the Stade de France. Liverpool trembled before finally winning on Villarreal’s lawn on Tuesday in the Champions League semi-final second leg (2-3). Victorious in the first leg (2-0), Jürgen Klopp’s men completely missed their start in this second round and their opponents had caught up at the break after goals from Boulaye Dia (3rd) and Francis Coquelin (41st) . The visitors reacted and Fabinho (62nd), Luis Diaz (67th) then Sadio Mané (74th) allowed them to reverse the situation.

For this second round, Unai Emery had made two changes from the first leg and started Dia and Gerard Moreno, back from injury, in attack. With the additional support of a public on fire and above all a newfound aggressiveness, his team, as promised, immediately showed a completely different face. The Groguets entered the game with enormous desire and Dia launched a crazy evening by opening the scoring very quickly with a small recovery from six meters after a pass – or missed shot – from Etienne Capoue (1-0, 3rd ).

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Villarreal on fire

Strong in defense, the Villarreal players also ate their opponents in the duels in midfield and managed to bring out the balls well thanks to the mobility and technical quality of Moreno in front. The Spanish striker was narrowly countered by Andy Robertson as the Yellow Submarine pushed against a losing Reds (16th). Dominant in the midfield in front of a very clumsy Thiago Alcantara, Giovani Lo Celso appeared against Alisson but did not get the penalty he was asking for after a contentious contact (37th).

Much sharper and more determined, Villarreal continued to push and Capoue, launched to the right of the zone of truth, crossed to find Coquelin’s header at the far post, for a goal from the 100% French break (2-0, 41st) . Like Dia, Coquelin had never scored in the Champions League before and chose the moment well to unlock his counter. At the break, the Groguets had returned to equality on this double confrontation and Liverpool was at its worst.

Coquelin celebrates his goal against Liverpool

Credit: Getty Images

The Reds wake up

Klopp took matters into his own hands and launched Diaz on recovery in place of Diogo Jota and replaced Mané in the lead. The Colombian quickly brought a new faculty of percussion and a lot of desire. His teammates also raised their voices like Thiago Alcantara who settled his right foot and Naby Keita who channeled himself. Trent Alexander-Arnold almost lobbed Geronimo Rulli with a deflected long shot that ended on the crossbar (55th). The reduction in the score came from Fabinho, served by Mohamed Salah on the right of the zone of truth and who placed his low cross shot between the legs of the evil inspired Rulli (2-1, 62nd).

Liverpool completely extinguished their opponent in the second half and Diaz, who had narrowly missed the target on a cross shot (66th), equalized with a header from the penalty spot on a cross from Alexander-Arnold (2-2, 67th). Launched against, Mané, he sanctioned the kamikaze exit very far from his surface from Rulli and sent the ball into the empty goal to end all suspense (2-3, 74th). With a 5th goal in C1 this season, the 15th in his career, the Senegalese is now the best African scorer in the competition ahead of Didier Drogba.

The Reds even unrolled in the last quarter of an hour against annoyed Spaniards then reduced to 10 with the expulsion of Capua (86th). The incoming Curtis Jones (81st) and Salah (89th) did not manage to worsen the score but they will be there on May 28 for the grand final in Saint-Denis. After winning the League Cup in February and awaiting the Cup final on May 14 and then the verdict of the Premier League on May 22, Liverpool, which dreams of a quadruple, can prepare for the next busy weeks.

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