Liverpool bossed Villarreal in every area and will bring a 2-0 lead to Spain after controlling a UEFA Champions League semifinal first leg at Anfield on Wednesday.
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Pervis Estupinan’s deflection of a Jordan Henderson cross went down as an own goal and Mohamed Salah set up a Sadio Mane goal as the Reds beat the Yellow Submarine by holding a 19-2 shots advantage and 74 percent of the ball.
The second leg is Tuesday in Spain, which will come after both teams play league matches early Saturday morning.
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Liverpool vs Villarreal final score, stats
Liverpool 2, Villarreal 0
Scorers: Estupinan (o.g. 53′), Mane (55′)
Shot attempts: Liverpool 19, Villarreal 1
Shots on goal: Liverpool 5, Villarreal 0
Possession: Liverpool 74, Villarreal 26
Three things we learned from Liverpool vs Villarreal
1. Almost complete victory: The only thing that would’ve made this match better for Liverpool — and we’re being picky — is a third goal. The Reds have left the door closed but not locked heading to Spain next week, though Villarreal could be suitably dispirited by its defensive display yielding almost nothing on the counter. Liverpool was so good all the way across the back aside from one bad pass from Trent Alexander-Arnold that led to Villarreal’s most dangerous counter. There’s no reason not to anticipate a berth in the final.
2. Alexander-Arnold shines: One of several players to collect more than 100 touches on the day, Trent Alexander-Arnold managed the figure in less than 90 minutes as Jurgen Klopp rested some players for the weekend’s trip to Newcastle. Alexander-Arnold had four key passes and would’ve had an assist had Andy Robertson managed to stay onside for what could’ve been 3-0 to the hosts. Alexander-Arnold was also credited with four tackles on the day.
3. Emery back to the drawing board: Well, Unai Emery simply cannot play it this conservative in the second leg if he wants any hopes of shocking the Reds. Unfortunately, that could lead to Liverpool just pounding away at the hosts in Spain, but Emery made the same mistake as Frank Lampard’s Everton did at the weekend. If you’re going to try and stifle Liverpool, you simply better know you won’t fail when you get even the rarest of glimpses of the other final third. And Villarreal had fewer than the Toffees did on Sunday.
Man of the Match: Thiago Alcantara — 114 touches, 97-of-100 passes, five interceptions, nine-of-nine long passes, one post smacked by a drive from distance, total hold of the center of the park.
Jordan Henderson cross breaks the hex
Salah slips Mane in for poked finish
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Liverpool vs Villarreal final score: Klopp’s men have total control originally appeared on NBCSports.com