Liverpool book place in the UCL final

Two different halves of football and Liverpool are through to the Champions League final after being Villarreal at El Madrigal on Tuesday evening.

Liverpool held off a stirring comeback from Villarreal to reach the Champions League final as second-half goals from Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane secured a 5-2 aggregate victory. Trailing 2-0 from the first leg, Villarreal sparked hopes of a remarkable turnaround in the return at the Estadio de la Ceramica after Boulaye Dia finished in the third minute, and Francis Coquelin headed in another to level the tie at 2-2.

But Jurgen Klopp threw on Diaz for Diogo Jota at the interval to shake Liverpool into life, and it worked, the visitors scoring three times in 12 minutes to kill off Villarreal’s revival and advance to their third Champions League final in five years.

Liverpool instantly improved on their incredible first-half performance and eventually found a way to break down their opponent’s defence and goalkeeper when Fabinho found the back of the net in the 62nd minute, closely followed by a goal-hungry Diaz just five minutes later, and inevitably Sadio Mane killed the game entirely with a third second-half goal in the 74th minute.

Liverpool will await the winner of Real Madrid and Manchester City, who play their second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, with City leading 4-3 from the opener last week.

Jurgen Klopp’s side came into the match up 2-0 on aggregate from the first leg but quickly went behind after Villarreal’s Boulaye Dia pounced on Etienne Capoue’s cross-shot to give the hosts a second-leg lead.

Liverpool were left frustrated throughout the remainder of the first half, failing to get a single shot on target, and saw Villarreal double their lead just before the break when Francis Coquelin scored from an exquisite glancing header to level the tie on aggregate.

“We never tend to make these Champions League semis easy for ourselves,” Alexander-Arnold said. “It was difficult for us [in the] first half, sometimes you can’t really control the game the way you want to. They started the game very well, scored early goals which is obviously what they wanted to do, but like I said, we got the game done.”

Klopp’s side has been prolific in 2021-22, scoring 139 goals in 57 games in all competitions, their highest-ever total in a single season in club history.

The victory also keeps alive Liverpool’s hopes of a Quadruple, having already won the Carabao Cup and still in contention for the Premier League, UCL and FA Cup titles.