Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp said on Tuesday that he was incredibly proud of his team’s victory at Villarreal in their semi-final match of the second leg of the Champions League. Liverpool reached their third Champions League final in 5 years when they fought back to reverse the 2-0 deficit in the return leg and win a 3-2 draw and book a ticket to Paris with an overall 5-2 win against the Spanish side.
Liverpool, who embarked on their 2nd game with an England 2-0 lead, were stunned early on. Gathered by a home crowd, Villarreal played a football brand that helped them knock out Juventus and Bayern Munich in their first European competition.
Unai Emery’s men couldn’t do much last week at Anfield, but with the support of the home side, Villarreal scored 2-0 and tied the Champions League semi-final. The goals of Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin on rain-soaked pitch gave faith to Villarreal fans as Liverpool anxiously went on holiday.
Liverpool, however, came out transformed after half-time, with goals from Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadi Mane concluding the deal, with Villarreal finishing the game with 10 players after a late red card for Etienne Capoue. It was stunning to see a change of mentality from Liverpool as they rallied against the home crowd to reverse the backlog and reserve a spot in the final.
Outstanding, massive, as if it were the first (UEFA Champions League final in which Jurgen Klopp participated with Liverpool), to be honest, because he is always so special and for me it is the best club competition in the World. Love him, love everyone sounds, you love the night – respect for Villarreal, “Klopp said after Liverpool’s victory.
Klopp’s side will face Real Madrid or Manchester City, who will compete in the return leg of their semi-final on Wednesday, in Paris on May 28. City leads 4-3 from the first game.
“The players (Villarreal), as they put us under pressure, everything is great. So it’s such a special feeling because it was very difficult for us, but, in the end, we deserved it (victory) and it’s really cool.
“And it was huge, massive of (Liverpool) boys.
So before the game I told the guys that I would love to read the headlines, and that is that they are ‘monsters of the mentality in the city’, just because I wanted from the first moment not to be like someone defending the score but going for three points or victory. I couldn’t see it (in the first half), but the second half was like this, and I’m not 100 percent sure what I was looking for in Spanish – I think it’s ‘mentalidad monstruos’ or something like that, ”Klopp added.
Villarreal’s relentless pressure in the first half has forced Liverpool to make mistakes they don’t normally make, with a 66% accuracy of passing visitors which is the lowest level they have managed in the first half of the game in all competitions this season.
Villarreal equalized with a goal from close range by Coquelino and looked on the verge of a miraculous comeback.
The hosts even had a penalty appeal that was denied by referee Danny Makkelie in the 38th minute when Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker came out to stifle the ball and then threw in Giovani Lo Celso inside the penalty area.
Things changed when Klopp brought Diaz off the bench on holiday, and the Colombian winger in form changed the dynamics of the game, finding space and taking advantage of the Villarreal team that seemed to run out of fuel.
With 500 games as if the boys seemed to be playing, it is quite normal that a situation could happen in the first half (Villarreal led 2-0), but a reaction like we reacted (in the second half) did it really again special (Liverpool eventually won 3-2). And I’m really happy about that, “Klopp added.