Drama In Spain As Liverpool Clinch UCL Final Ticket To Paris

  • Liverpool advance to the 2021/22 Champions League final following victory over Villarreal on Tuesday night.
  • It's a third Champions League final in five seasons for the Reds under Jürgen Klopp. 
  • They become the first ever English club to reach the final of the European Cup/Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup in the same season.

Before kickoff at the Estadio de la Ceramica, Jurgen Klopp was at pains to underline that Liverpool will not underestimate their opponents despite holding a 2-0 lead, but it was a clumsy start from the favourites.

A spirited effort from Villarreal just wasn't enough to overcome Liverpool on the night, despite a remarkable first-half from the Spanish side. They lost 3-2 to the Premier League outfit and 5-2 on aggregate.

The Yellow Submarine were excellent for the opening 45 minutes and went in at half time with a 2-0 lead, managing to have levelled the tie on aggregate.

A catastrophe of poor defending saw Villarreal spin the ball from flank to flank, before a lofted cross was cut back by Etienne Capoue for a third-minute goal for Boulaye Dia.

Things took awhile to improve, with Andy Robertson and Naby Keita in particular struggling early on, while a good move was derailed by a strong touch from Diogo Jota.

Before the halftime, Villarreal made it a 2-0 lead thanks to Capoue's assist on a long ball, which he crossed for Francis Coquelin in the 41st minute to head in, despite Trent Alexander-shoddy Arnold's marking.

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The Merseysiders desperately needed to steady the ship and reduced the deficit when they pulled one back through Fabinho just past the hour.

Rulli took the brunt of the equalizer, with Alexander-left-footed Arnold's cross finding substitute Diaz on the run, who nutmegged the Villarreal goalkeeper with a close-range 67th minute header to make it 2-2 on the night.

Rulli then made matters worse for himself when, with Mane sprinting through onto Keita's hopeful ball, he ran out out of his box and utterly missed the challenge, allowing the No. 10 to finish into an open net.

The Senegalese forward notched his 21st goal of the season on 74 minutes to cap a remarkable turnaround. 

To compound Villarreal’s frustration, Capoue was sent off for a second yellow late on as Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League final.

READ MORE: Van Dijk Confidence Contributes Largely To Liverpool's Success...Clarence Seedorf Reveals. 

The second half turnaround was sparked by Jurgen Klopp's half time team talk, and Virgil van Dijk revealed what the coach said in the dressing room at the break.

"He said 'play football, play the Liverpool way'," Van Dijk told BT Sport.

"He told us to play the way we've been playing basically all season, to get on the ball, have a lot of movement in the box and behind the high line, but also to show how much we really want to go to the final."

Mohamed Salah was also instrumental in the second half comeback, and hailed his side's character at full time.

"It was tough in the first half, but then we went to the dressing room and [Jurgen Klopp] started talking and we talked to each other as well," Salah told BT Sport.

"That character and personality in the dressing room shows that we are a top team, so that's why we can strike back after losing 2-0 in the first half playing away."

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The coach himself who recently extended his contract with the club until 2026, also had his say, revealing how the English side managed to turn momentum back in their favour.

"We knew that in the first half they were very much on top of us man to man, but we didn't comment on the physical aspect at the break," Klopp said.

"I can't tell you exactly what I told them. We talked about how we had to play football, to move and look for spaces."

Liverpool will now face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in Paris on May 28.

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