Villarreal v Liverpool: Champions League semi-final, second leg – live! – The Guardian

Villarreal v Liverpool: Champions League semi-final, second leg – live! – The Guardian
Champions League Liverpool FC Soccer News

I’ve changed my mind again on Capoue’s first assist. I think he was trying to shoot, but he was off balance, under pressure from Robertson, and that’s why he screwed the ball back across goal.

“As a gloomy Chelsea fan,” begins Claire McConnell, “if I never hear the word ‘quadruple’ again it will raise my spirits considerably.”

If there’s one subject I know about, it’s premature

e
schadenfreude, and I fear you’ve gone too early there.

Next stop, rocket science

Half-time entertainment

Half time: Villarreal 2-0 Liverpool (agg: 2-2)

Liverpool are officially embroiled. They have been outplayed, outsmarted and outfought by Villarreal, who are level in the tie thanks to goals from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin. Join us in 15 minutes for the second half. Spoiler alert: it gets emotional.

45+2 min “Hello from Javea, Costa Blanca north,” says Magali Fradet. “My Airbnb guests flew over from Liverpool and are now in the Villarreal stadium. I’m feeling very torn … but hey, aren’t Villarreal amazing?”

I feel slightly ashamed for giving them such little chance tonight. Did I learn nothing from the last 20 years?

45+1 min Two minutes of added time.

45 min Breaking news: a hairdryer is on charge in the away dressing-room. Liverpool have been an unfathomable mess in this first half.

Francis Coquelin, once of Arsenal, has brought Villarreal level in the tie! Again it came from a cross, this time by Capoue on the right. He Cruyff-turned away from Robertson and lofted a left-footed cross to the far post. Coquelin got the wrong side of the unvigilant Alexander-Arnold, hung in the air for an age and steered an excellent header into the corner.

Francis Coquelin levels the match on aggregate.
Francis Coquelin levels the match on aggregate. Photograph: Javier García/REX/Shutterstock

Updated at 15.54 EDT

GOAL! Villarreal 2-0 Liverpool (agg: 2-2; Coquelin 41)

It’s 2-2!

Francis Coquelin rises to head home the second Villarreal goal.
Francis Coquelin rises to head home the second Villarreal goal. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Updated at 15.53 EDT

39 min Gerard Moreno, who has played brilliantly on his return from a hamstring injury, is moving gingerly. Samuel Chukwueze is warming up and may well be needed.

Updated at 15.41 EDT

37 min: Huge Villarreal penalty appeal turned down! Lo Celso was put through on goal and tried to go round Alisson, who dived bravely at his feet. Both men ended up in a heap, and on first viewing it looked a really tight call, but replays showed it was a clean bit of keeping from Alisson. If anything, Lo Celso fouled him. But it was a great chance for Villarreal, stemming from a mistake by Keita. He’s had a dreadful first half, as he did in Spain against Real Madrid last season.

Alisson thwarts Giovani Lo Celso.
Alisson thwarts Giovani Lo Celso. Photograph: Eric Alonso/Getty Images

Updated at 15.44 EDT

34 min This has been Liverpool’s worst performance in a while – certainly since the first half at the Etihad and probably a lot longer than that. They just need to get to half-time at 1-0 and allow Jurgen Klopp to work his magic.

Updated at 15.36 EDT

31 min Boulaye Dia’s early goal remains the only shot on target in the game. Villarreal have been much the better side but they haven’t created many opportunities.

30 min Gerard Moreno is having a fine game. His movement has been very smart; he’s constantly pulling away from van Dijk to find space in behind Robertson.

29 min Albiol brazenly wipes out Mane and is fortunate to avoid a yellow card.

29 min “Liverpool need to find their inner Everton,” says Simon Kirchin, a message that can be interpreted a number of ways.

28 min The pace of the game has slowed a little in the last few minutes. Normally that would be a bad thing for Liverpool, but at the moment it suits them.

26 min The pitch is playing well enough despite all the rain. There are a few areas where the ball is holding up, especially on the right side of the Liverpool penalty area, but it hasn’t really affected the game yet.

24 min Salah shoots just wide from 15 yards after a bit of a scramble in the area, though the referee had blown for something or other. There was a chance for Jota earlier in the move that would have counted: he was put through on goal by a clever square ball from Salah, but a slightly heavy touch allowed Raul Albiol to get back and smother the danger with the help of the keeper Rulli.

20 min In the parlance of our time, Liverpool are suffering. They look a bit ragged both in defence and attack, though you know they won’t play like this all night. Villarreal need to make the most of their dominance.

Daniel Parejo snuffs out an attack by Naby Keita.
Daniel Parejo snuffs out an attack by Naby Keita. Photograph: David Lidstrom/Getty Images

Updated at 15.29 EDT

18 min “Is it possible,” says Brendan Large, “that the fact that this isn’t a standard massive European stadium, (and more like a fourth- or fifth-round FA Cup tie stadium) makes this more difficult for Liverpool?”

Oh, absolutely, and so far the atmosphere has been tremendous.

17 min Keita, who hasn’t started well, throttles a shot wide of goal from 25 yards. He had better options to his right.

16 min: Chance for Villarreal! This is getting a bit too lively for Liverpool’s taste. A hanging cross from the left is headed towards goal by Moreno and hits Robertson in the face. He didn’t know much about that. I suspect Alisson had it covered, though I wouldn’t bet the farm on it.

14 min Thiago clips the top of the bar from 20 yards, though a foul had been given against Keita. It was a softish decision, though I think the whistle had been blown before Thiago’s shot, so it wouldn’t have gone to VAR even if he had scored.

14 min You knew it was coming, and Peter Oh has obliged us with a simple two-word email. “Oh Dia.”

Updated at 15.15 EDT

13 min Moreno’s dangerous cross from the right is headed away by van Dijk. At the moment it’s Liverpool who are struggling to breathe.

12 min A loose ball breaks to Parejo, who shoots not far wide from 22 yards. Alisson had it covered, but these are nervous times for Liverpool.

11 min Robertson’s mishit free-kick is miskicked wide from 15 yards by Jota. He wanted a corner; the referee didn’t oblige him.

10 min “When the camera cut to Unai Emery after the goal,” begins Kári Tulinius, “he had the expression of a man weighing willing his team not to do anything stupid in the next five minutes.”

And they’ve managed it, so I bet he’s doing a Singin’ in the Rain jig now.

9 min Keita was at fault for the goal too – he allowed Estupinan to cross far too easily. Liverpool haven’t settled yet.

8 min “Van Dijk joined Liverpool in 2018, four years and four months ago from today,” says Yash Gupta. “He also missed about a year due to injury. So the greatest of all time are now decided by a three-and-a-half-year spell. Smart thinking from Owen who no doubt using the same logic was about to honk – HE HIMSELF IS THE BEST STRIKER OF ALL TIME.”

5 min I did Capoue a disservice. Not only did he get the wrong side of Robertson, he showed great awareness and coolness to guide the ball back across to Dia. Capoue’s would have been a good chance; Dia’s was an open goal.

Updated at 15.09 EDT

Villarreal have got the early goal they craved! Estupinan’s terrific cross from the left was diverted back across goal by Capoue, and Boulaye Dia passed it into the empty net from six yards. It looked like a great chance for Capoue, and I’m not 100 per cent sure he was trying to find Dia. But he did, and Villarreal are back in it.

Alisson, who scrambled across his line in an attempt to cover a possible shot from Capoue, was out of the game when the ball went back across to Dia.

Updated at 15.07 EDT

GOAL! Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool (agg: 1-2; Dia 3)

Hello!

Boulaye Dia strikes early for Villarreal.
Boulaye Dia strikes early for Villarreal. Photograph: Aitor Alcalde/UEFA/Getty Images

Updated at 15.16 EDT

2 min An update from Joe Watt in Valencia (see 19.57). “And now the electricity is gone.”


On the plus side
, you can still read this liveblog on your phone.

1 min Peep peep! Liverpool kick off from right to left. The rain has stopped.

“Is it safe,” says Peter Oh, “for the Estadio de la Cerámica to host an exhibition of heavy metal football?”

Ha. Liverpool would be happy with 90 minutes of Brian Eno tonight.

“I’m down the road from Villarreal in València,” says Joe Watt. “Just sprinted one minute to the pub and I’m soaked through. God knows what will happen in this weather.”

The players are about to walk onto the field. The Villarreal fans are making one helluva noise.

A reminder of the teams

Villarreal (4-4-2) Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Estupinan; Lo Celso, Capoue, Parejo, Coquelin; Moreno, Dia.
Substitutes: Asenjo, Jorgensen, Mario Gaspar, Alcacer, Iborra, Chukwueze, Trigueros, Pena, Mandi, Moi Gomez, Pedraza, Aurier.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Gomez, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Diaz, Origi, Matip, Elliott.

“Am all athrill with anticipation!” coos Ian Copestake. “To have the class of a Thiago balanced by the giraffe legs of Fabinho prodding out dangers all over the pitch. I have no idea how a side like City function. They just have lots of amazing small players. But this lot make sense in a sort of old-fashioned, cogs-in-a-machine way.”

“There are at least 15 Premier League sides that would absolutely love to trot out Liverpool’s bench as their starting XI (minus one, obviously). You know they’ve got depth for days, but to see it laid out like that is frightening stuff.”

As if to rub it in, Jurgen Klopp has picked a bench that you can fit into a realistic XI, rather than one of those fantasy teams people pick with Pele and Maradona at centre-half.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Kelleher; Milner, Matip, Gomez, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain or Elliott, Henderson, Jones; Minamino, Origi, Diaz.

Updated at 14.50 EDT

Jurgen Klopp’s pre-match thoughts

[Is it dangerous to think you’re through already?] They have nothing to lose, we have nothing to win, so we’ll decide what we think. We’re going to treat this like a one-off final and go for it.

[On the two changes from the first leg] It is rotation, but also there are specific moments where you want a specific skillset, and that’s why we decided on this line-up.

“I look at Villarreal and think, ‘What would I do?’. Two-nil down, maybe didn’t play your best football … give it a go. That’s exactly what Villarreal will do. They will go for it, but we will as well, so let’s see.”

“Villarreal were swamped by the Liverpool press and barely coped,” says Tim Stappard. “Unai Emery is extremely good but he can’t give his team more time. Benfica troubled them more, and it’s a weak Benfica too.”

That second sentence is great, and so neatly put. I knew Manchester United should have appointed Neo as their new manager.

Updated at 14.47 EDT

Presented without comment On BT Sport, Michael Owen has just announced that Virgil van Dijk is the greatest centre-half of all time.

“I will unavoidably miss the first half tonight,” writes our resident Liverpool supporter Matt Dony, “so I’ll get all my groaning negativity in early doors. It all seems a little ‘too’ comfortable. Villarreal are a very good side (they’re in the semi-finals of the Champions League, for goodness sake!), and 2-0 isn’t exactly the world’s most astonishingly comprehensive lead.

“Yes, Liverpool should go through. But the level of confidence in certain areas of social media is hubristic and fool hardy. The abolishment of the away goals rule is absolutely a good thing. But I’d quite like to bring it back in tonight. Who do I need to speak to?”

I’ve been trying to make sense of this as well. I’ll be honest, I’m expecting a quiet night in the MBM dungeon, and I think that’s due to the manner of the first leg rather than the scoreline. It reminds me of that old line about album reviews: “Sure, they gave you 6/10, but it reads like an 8.”

The first leg was a 2-0 that read like a 4-0, which is why most of us think Liverpool will progress comfortably. That and because they are formidably good. But as a neutral I would love extra-time, penalties, the whole shebang.

Updated at 14.13 EDT

The weather in Villarreal has been atrocious for the last 48 hours, which could make life interesting for the goalkeepers. The pitch is sodden but apparently there’s no danger of the game being abandoned.

Torrential rain all day here in Villarreal. Fair bit of wind too. Tough conditions but the pitch has taken it well. See you on @btsport at 7pm. #VILLIV

— Michael Owen (@themichaelowen) May 3, 2022

Updated at 14.13 EDT

Team news

The excellent Gerard Moreno returns to the Villarreal side, but they are without the injured Arnaut Danjuma. That’s a big blow. Moreno for Danjuma is one of two changes from the first leg at Anfield. The other is also up front, where Boulaye Dia is in for Samuel Chukwueze.

Jurgen Klopp also makes two changes from last week’s first leg: Naby Keita and Diogo Jota replace Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz.

Villarreal (4-4-2) Rulli; Foyth, Albiol, Pau Torres, Estupinan; Lo Celso, Capoue, Parejo, Coquelin; Moreno, Dia.
Substitutes: Asenjo, Jorgensen, Mario Gaspar, Alcacer, Iborra, Chukwueze, Trigueros, Pena, Mandi, Moi Gomez, Pedraza, Aurier.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Substitutes: Kelleher, Milner, Gomez, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Tsimikas, Diaz, Origi, Matip, Elliott.

Referee Danny Makkelie (Netherlands)

Updated at 14.06 EDT

Preamble

A year is a long time in association football. On 3 May 2021, Liverpool were seventh in the Premier League and seven points off Champions League qualification. Now they are two games away from a seventh European Cup and could be seven games (plus one Manchester City drawfeat) from an historic quadruple.

Football is a never-ending tale of the unexpected, a thought that will sustain Villarreal ahead of tonight’s match at El Madrigal. The first leg was so one-sided – a 2-0 that felt like a 4-0 – that most neutrals think Liverpool are as good as in the final already. It’s not a view that will be shared in the away dressing-room or the away end. Liverpool’s legend has been built on glorious European comebacks, from Juventus in 1965 to Barcelona in 2019, so they know all about the madness of the second leg.

If Liverpool get the first goal, it’s over. If Villarreal score it, all bets are off.

Kick off 8pm.

‘Treat it carefully’: Klopp warns Liverpool before crucial Champions League second leg – video