Liverpool took a major step towards reaching the Champions League final with a 2-0 victory at home to Villarreal in the first leg of their semi-final tie.

As usual, Villarreal had a defensive mindset but despite having eliminated Juventus and Bayern Munich they found matters considerably more difficult against Liverpool.

The deadlock was eventually broken in the 53rd minute when Jordan Henderson’s delivery was inadvertently deflected into his own net by Villarreal defender Pervis Estupinan.

Just two minutes later it was 2-0 as Sadio Mane slotted the ball home having been found by Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool still have work to do to get to the final but they will be confident of achieving that objective, especially given the limited attacking threat posed by Villarreal. The quadruple remains possible for the Reds.

Lack of plan B proves costly for Villarreal

Villarreal have demonstrated on many occasions they are capable of defending diligently and frustrating opponents. They managed to do so again in the first half against Liverpool, but once Jurgen Klopp’s side took the lead Villarreal seemed to lack direction.

Unai Emery’s team still played defensively but were unable to impose themselves on the game in a creative sense and Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson had little to do.

If Villarreal are to stand any chance of prevailing in the second leg, they must find a way to show greater attacking ambition without compromising their defensive principles.

Liverpool’s attacking quality proved to be the difference, with their opponents lacking answers to the problems they were posed.

Fabinho and Thiago provide foundation for Liverpool victory

Liverpool controlled the game in midfield, with Fabinho and Thiago providing the platform for a successful performance.

Fabinho again demonstrated his excellence in both breaking up play and initiating attacks.

Thiago, meanwhile, played some superb passes and came close to finding the net himself in the 42nd minute with an effort from 30 yards that hit the post.

MORE: How Emery turned Arsenal weakness into Champions League strength

Liverpool vs. Villarreal final score

  1H 2H Final
Liverpool 0 2 2
Villarreal 0 0 0

Goals:

LIVERPOOL — Estupinan (o.g.) — 53 min.

LIVERPOOL — Mane — 55 min.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal live updates and highlights from Champions League semi-final

Full time: Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal: Liverpool take a major step towards reaching the Champions League final courtesy of an own goal from Pervis Estupinan and a strike from Sadio Mane.

87 mins: A rare chance for Villarreal as Dia shoots straight at Alisson. The flag goes up anyway.

84 mins: Liverpool have been utterly dominant and since going 2-0 up they have looked very calm and assured. Villarreal bring on Alcacer for Danjuma.

81 mins: Joe Gomez replaces Alexnader-Arnold. Origi is on for Diaz.

76 mins: Diaz, who has been lively throughout, sends the ball across the face of goal but there isn’t a connection from a team-mate.

75 mins: Liverpool seem confident they will see the first leg out and there is still time for them to add a third. 

70 mins: Changes are made for both teams. Villarreal bring on Aurier, Trigueros and Dia for Parejo, Estupinan and Chukwueze.

Liverpool bring on Jota and Keita for Mane and Henderson. 

68 mins: Liverpool now seem firmly in control and are retaining possession well. Van Dijk hits a powerful effort from distance that catches Rulli by surprise but the goalkeeper eventually deals with it. Diaz then sees a shot deflected wide by Albiol. 

64 mins: Liverpool have another goal ruled out for offside. It’s another cross from Alexander-Arnold, Robertson finds the net but the flag is up. 

61 mins: Salah goes down in the box under pressure from Torres but play is waved on. Lo Celso is now booked for a challenge on Robertson.

Villarreal have brought on Pedraza in place of Coquelin. 

GOAL – Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal (Mane) It’s a quickfire double for Liverpool, who get their second goal in two minutes. Mane steers the ball home after being found by Salah. 

GOAL – Liverpool 1-0 Villarreal (Estupinan o.g.) Now Liverpool are in front. Henderson’s cross takes a significant deflection off Estupinan, which deceives Rulli and goes into the net. 

49 mins: Fabinho puts the ball in the net and thinks he’s given Liverpool the lead but the goal is ruled out as Van Dijk is offside. 

46 mins: Estupinan is booked for pulling down Salah just outside the penalty area.

The second half is underway at Anfield. Liverpool start brightly with Salah’s ball in being deflected off Pau Torres and into the path of Rulli. 

Could Liverpool’s bench make the difference in this tie. Diogo Jota in particular could have a major impact. 

Half time: Liverpool 0-0 Villarreal: The game is goalless at the break. Liverpool have tried their utmost to break the deadlock but Villarreal have managed to withstand the pressure so far. Thiago has come closest to scoring. 

40 mins: Foyth makes an excellent challenge as Villarreal deal with the danger. Can they get through to half time with their clean sheet intact? Thiago then strikes the crossbar with a dipping effort. 

33 mins: Mane turns and has an effort deflected wide. Salah’s effort is deflected over from the resultant corner, with Lo Celso defending well. Shortly afterwards Alexander-Arnold delivers an excellent cross but Salah’s shot lacks conviction. At the other end Lo Celso makes an intelligent run but can’t connect properly with the ball.

30 mins: Diaz looks a major threat for Liverpool, with the winger going for goal again and testing Rulli with a powerful effort. Liverpool are looking to increase the intensity now. Van Dijk is booked for a foul on Chukwueze. 

25 mins: Diaz drifts a little more centrally as he tries to combine with Alexander-Arnold, but Liverpool are still having to be patient as they look to break Villarreal down. Salah then shoots over after being found by Mane. 

21 mins: Thiago finds Jordan Henderson, with the Liverpool captain’s effort striking the underside of the post. 

18 mins: Liverpool will be wary of the threat Villarreal pose on the counter-attack. Unai Emery’s side are trying their best to slow the game down, much to the annoyance of the Liverpool fans. 

14 mins: Diaz’s effort causes problems for Villarreal goalkeeper Rulli, who initially struggles to hold the ball before eventually claiming it. 

12 mins: A good chance for Liverpool as Salah plays a dinked ball in towards Mane, who finds it difficult to make a proper connection as his header goes wide. 

10 mins: Villarreal exert some pressure but the offside flag is raised against Danjuma.

6 mins: Fabinho sends a ball in towards Robertson, whose header goes over. The pattern of the game certainly seems set. 

3 mins: Liverpool have started with a lot of intensity as expected. Will they be able to break down this well-organised Villarreal team?

Kick off: The game is underway.

10 mins to KO: You’ll Never Walk Alone rings around Anfield in the build-up to kick-off. 

15 mins to KO: It will take something special to match the quality of last night’s clash between Manchester City and Real Madrid, but this is still an interesting encounter in its own right. Could Liverpool’s overall quality make the difference?

30 mins to KO: Liverpool’s improved squad depth has been an important factor in their impressive performances. Against Everton last weekend for example Divock Origi and Luis Diaz both made a significant impact off the bench. Diogo Jota is among those named among the substitutes tonight. 

1 hour to KO: Villarreal are renowned for their defensive approach, but they can also pose an attacking threat themselves, with the likes of Samuel Chukwueze and Arnaut Danjuma capable of causing problems for Liverpool.

Villarreal team: 

 

 

Liverpool team: Firmino misses out through injury. Konate, Henderson and Diaz replace Matip, Keita and Jota. 

90 mins to KO: The Anfield crowd could certainly have an impact tonight, but Villarreal have plenty of players who have played in this stadium before including former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin. Villarreal certainly won’t be fazed by the size of the task facing them. 

2 hours to KO: Welcome to The Sporting News’ live coverage of Liverpool vs. Villarreal. The stage is set for another memorable European night at Anfield, but will Liverpool be able to get the better of a Villarreal side that has already knocked out Bayern Munich and Juventus?

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MORE: Liverpool’s quadruple chase is still on

How to watch Liverpool vs. Villarreal

  UK USA Canada Australia
Date April 27 April 27 April 27 April 28
Time 20:00 GMT 15:00 ET 15:00 ET 05:00 AET
TV channel BT Sport 2 CBS DAZN Stan Sport
Streaming BT Sport Paramount+ DAZN Stan Sport

UK: In the UK the game will be shown on BT Sport

USA: Viewers in the USA can watch the game live on CBS with streaming available on Paramount +

Canada: In Canada the game will be available to watch on DAZN

Australia: Stan Sport will be showing the game in Australia

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