Coming off of yesterday’s exhilarating match between Manchester City and Real Madrid, it’s time to jump into the second game of the first leg of the Champions League semifinals.
Liverpool took the win after defeating Villarreal 2-0. They now have a two-goal cushion going into next week’s match in Spain.
Following their unexpected win in the quarterfinals against Bayern Munich, Villarreal went head-to-head with the favorite, Liverpool, who have never lost at Anfield at this stage in the European Cup – they have won 9 of their 11 matches.
Liverpool were -355 favorites on the moneyline going into the match, and Villarreal were the +1000 underdog. The draw was +460 and the over-under for total goals scored was 2.5. It was no surprise that Liverpool would prove triumphant.
The first half proved the match was even. The game might not have had the melodramatics of Real Madrid and Manchester City’s match yesterday, but the competition was clear. No real damage was caused by either team.
Liverpool’s Thiago Alcântara, Andrew Robertson and Luis Diaz made headway in the first 45 minutes of play. Thiago had the closest scoring opportunities, hitting the post twice.
Despite being the favorite, Liverpool were not exactly proving themselves in the first period. Villarreal’s Étienne Capoue, Gerónimo Rulli (goalkeeper) and Raúl Albiol played tight enough defense to exhaust any opposing opportunity. In fact, to Liverpool’s surprise, Rulli denied Diaz twice upon two attempts at goal.
During the second half of the match, a state of goallessness remained. Liverpool’s Fábio Tavares had the ball in the net but an offside was called against Virgil van Dijk.
Shortly after, just eight minutes into the second half, Liverpool finally secured their lead via Jordan Henderson, raising the score to 1-0.
Villarreal clearly did not have enough time to reconvene after that first goal because two minutes later Liverpool were at it again. Sadio Mané secured another quick fire goal – making it 2-0 at the very start of this second half.
Liverpool nearly secured their third goal after a stellar finish by Robertson, but the left-back was called offside, keeping the lead at two.
Intensity settled towards the end of the second half as Villarreal simply feared giving up another goal. And Liverpool proved victorious after a stellar second half rush, defeating Villarreal 2-0.
Villarreal will have another chance to prove themselves when they face Liverpool for their second leg of the semifinals on Tuesday, May 3 at 3 p.m. ET.
Manchester will take on Real Madrid again next week for the second leg of the semifinals on Wednesday, May 4 at 3 p.m. ET.