Europa League - Semi-Final - 2nd Leg
LiverpoolLiverpool3VillarrealVillarreal0

Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal (agg 3-1)

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport
Daniel Sturridge
Daniel Sturridge scored his 12th goal of the season

Jurgen Klopp remains on course for silverware in his first season in charge after Liverpool beat Villarreal to reach the Europa League final.

Trailing 1-0 from the first leg, Liverpool levelled the tie on aggregate after Bruno Soriano's early own goal.

Daniel Sturridge, left out of the team in Spain, then put the hosts in command with a low finish after good work from the excellent Roberto Firmino.

After Villarreal's Victor Ruiz was sent off, Adam Lallana made the win safe.

Football Daily: Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal - video match report

Ruiz received a second booking after stepping on Lallana's foot in a game where Liverpool's energetic pressing ruffled their opponents.

Klopp, who took over from Brendan Rodgers in October and celebrated wildly with supporters after the final whistle, has now taken the Reds to a second final of the season, following defeat by Manchester City in the League Cup final.

They will face Europa League holders Sevilla in Basel on 18 May, after they beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 to win their semi-final 5-3 on aggregate.

Despite sitting nine points and 19 goals behind fourth-placed Manchester City in the Premier League, Liverpool would qualify for next season's Champions League should they win in Switzerland, representing a fine return for Klopp in such a short spell in charge.

Fans pay tribute to Hillsborough justice campaign
Liverpool fans formed a message which read 'The Greatest Football Family' around Anfield after the Hillsborough inquest found that 96 supporters were unlawfully killed at a FA Cup semi-final in 1989

Anfield enjoys another sparkling European night

On another memorable night at Anfield, Liverpool reached their first European final since losing the 2007 Champions League showpiece to AC Milan.

While it was less dramatic than the quarter-final win over Klopp's former team Borussia Dortmund, the players seemed galvanised by an electric rendition of You'll Never Walk Alone before kick-off as home fans paid tribute to those who died in the Hillsborough disaster, following last week's inquest verdict where 96 fans were found to be unlawfully killed.

The early opener came after Nathaniel Clyne crossed to the back post and Firmino put it back into the danger area. Sturridge missed the ball, but Bruno nudged into his own net.

Boosted by the goal, the hosts pressed Villarreal to distraction with James Milner, Philippe Coutinho and Lallana indefatigable in midfield.

Added to the poise offered by the returning Emre Can, who has been out injured for the past three weeks, and the trickery of Firmino, the visitors could not cope.

Sturridge, who has finally been able to enjoy a run of games after a shocking injury record, scored what appeared to be his most important Liverpool goal to put Klopp's side ahead in the tie.

Lallana then sparked more renditions of Liverpool's famous anthem when he tucked in from close range after more enterprise from Firmino.

How good is Liverpool's record in European competitions?

Yellow Submarine sinks under pressure

Villarreal, who have already reached next season's elite European competition by securing fourth place in La Liga, came up against a pacy team which did not let them settle.

Marcelino's side are well drilled and operate in a 4-4-2 formation, but they were overwhelmed in midfield and began to lose their tempers as Liverpool's superior numbers started to count.

Former Tottenham striker Roberto Soldado reacted to one Dejan Lovren challenge by swiping the Liverpool defender's feet away, and was later booked for chopping down Coutinho.

Villarreal's Victor Ruiz
Villarreal's Victor Ruiz gets a second booking for a foul on Adam Lallana (pictured on the floor)

Former Manchester City forward Denis Suarez was lucky not to follow him after berating referee Viktor Kassai and, when Ruiz received a second booking, there appeared no hope for a side who were only promoted back to La Liga three seasons ago.

Once Simon Mignolet parried Mario Gaspar's early shot and Jonathan dos Santos fired over, the Liverpool goalkeeper had little to do.

Villarreal, who had been on a 12-game unbeaten run in the competition, have now reached three Europa League semi-finals, previously losing twice to the eventual winners.

Liverpool will hope they can continue the Spanish side's unfortunate record.

Man of the match: Roberto Firmino

Jurgen Klopp congratulates Roberto Firmino
Jurgen Klopp congratulates Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian had a hand in all three goals

What they said

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, speaking to BT Sport: "Wonderful night, brilliant game from my side. What a performance. The first half an hour was a big emotion. It was great. The last 15 minutes of the first half we lost patience. The second-half plan was to keep going with the emotional football but using the brain a bit more and in the end, brilliant.

"Everyone spoke a lot about this team before I came here. It was all about quality and not good transfers. I came here because I thought they had a nice squad and now we are in the final."

Villarreal boss Marcelino: "Things didn't work out how we had planned them. It hit us hard conceding that early goal, it was a hammer blow.

"It was tough against an opponent who played with a huge amount of intensity, maybe on the margins of the rules at times, but it was allowed.

"Liverpool played better than us but for all their superiority they didn't create too many chances. When we got to the sending off it was pretty much game over by then."

Stats you need to know

  • Liverpool have only failed to score in one of their 21 home Europa League games (0-0 v Braga in December 2010)
  • Daniel Sturridge has scored in four of his past five appearances at Anfield in all competitions
  • Only James Milner (14) has more assists in all competitions for Liverpool this season than Roberto Firmino (9)
  • The Reds will face Spanish opposition in a European final for the third time, having played Real Madrid in the 1981 European Cup Final (won 1-0) and Alaves in the 2001 UEFA Cup (won 5-4 after extra-time)
  • Villarreal have lost each of their four major European semi-finals

What next?

Liverpool are at home to Watford in the Premier League on Sunday as they aim to secure a place in the Europa League, at least, next season.

Line-ups

Liverpool

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 22Mignolet
  • 2ClyneBooked at 35mins
  • 6Lovren
  • 4K Touré
  • 18Moreno
  • 20Lallana
  • 23Can
  • 7Milner
  • 10CoutinhoSubstituted forAllenat 82'minutes
  • 11FirminoSubstituted forBentekeat 89'minutes
  • 15SturridgeSubstituted forLeivaat 90+2'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Benteke
  • 21Leiva
  • 24Allen
  • 33Ibe
  • 37Skrtel
  • 44B Smith
  • 52Ward

Villarreal

Formation 4-4-2

  • 13Areola
  • 2Pérez Martínez
  • 5Musacchio
  • 6RuizBooked at 71mins
  • 11Costa Jordá
  • 8J dos SantosSubstituted forBoneraat 73'minutes
  • 4PinaSubstituted forTrigueros Muñozat 60'minutes
  • 21Bruno
  • 18D SuárezBooked at 90mins
  • 9SoldadoBooked at 40minsSubstituted forLópez Álvarezat 69'minutes
  • 17Bakambu

Substitutes

  • 1Asenjo
  • 7García Sánchez
  • 14Trigueros Muñoz
  • 19Castillejo Azuaga
  • 20López Álvarez
  • 22Rukavina
  • 23Bonera
Referee:
Viktor Kassai
Attendance:
43,074

Match Stats

Home TeamLiverpoolAway TeamVillarreal
Possession
Home60%
Away40%
Shots
Home25
Away6
Shots on Target
Home12
Away2
Corners
Home11
Away3
Fouls
Home11
Away7

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Liverpool 3, Villarreal 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Liverpool 3, Villarreal 0.

  3. Booking

    Denis Suárez (Villarreal) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

  4. Post update

    Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  5. Post update

    Foul by Denis Suárez (Villarreal).

  6. Post update

    Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Alphonse Areola.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Adam Lallana (Liverpool) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner. Assisted by Joe Allen.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Lucas Leiva replaces Daniel Sturridge.

  9. Post update

    Attempt saved. Joe Allen (Liverpool) right footed shot from the left side of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Daniel Sturridge.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

  11. Post update

    Mario (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  12. Substitution

    Substitution, Liverpool. Christian Benteke replaces Roberto Firmino.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Adam Lallana (Liverpool).

  14. Post update

    Manu Trigueros (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Attempt missed. Joe Allen (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box misses to the left.

  16. Post update

    Attempt saved. Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Nathaniel Clyne with a through ball.

  17. Post update

    Attempt saved. Emre Can (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by James Milner.

  18. Post update

    Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Denis Suárez (Villarreal).

  20. Post update

    Foul by Alberto Moreno (Liverpool).