The dream of reaching a first European Final is more alive than ever. Villarreal beat Liverpool 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Semi-finals and gets that bit closer to the Final in Basel. They will have to suffer at Anfield, but the Yellows enjoyed a memorable night and a victory that will be engraved on the minds of the most passionate Yellows fans for a long time to come.
At the start of the match the Submarine were waiting in the wings, holding off the initial onslaught from the English side. Liverpool had the first clear chance on goal after a great cross found Allen in the box, whose shot forced Asenjo to make a magnificent save.
The Yellows were organised in defence and ready to go forward, dangerous on the counterattack. So the chances didn’t take long to come. The first fell to Soldado after a perfect through ball from Bruno, who played a quick free kick, but he pulled his shot too wide of the far post.
The atmosphere was spectacular, every time the Submarine created danger El Madrigal went crazy. The fans lived every minute of the game with their team. Pina, with a double attempt, Mario and Soldado all come close to breaking the deadlock before half time, but the score line didn’t budge.
At the start of the second half the Yellows kept creating danger as they got closer to Mignolet’s goal. In fact, not long after the break Bakambu came close to getting the opener as his header hit the woodwork from a Jonathan dos Santos corner.
Liverpool also had their chances in the first moments of the second half as Firmino’s shot also came off the post. It was end to end stuff, both teams creating chances.
Mateo Musacchio returns
The Argentinean Mateo Musacchio returned to play tonight after his injury. The Yellow number 5 entered in the 75th minute replacing Eric Bailly, who went off injured. Musacchio had not played an official match for Villarreal CF since 28th February against Levante in El Madrigal.
In the 86th minute the best opportunity came for the Yellows. Denis Suárez put a great through ball into Bakambu’s path and the French-Congolese striker brought the ball down very well and his fantastic shot was kept out with an even more fantastic save by Mignolet. The thousands of fans that filled El Madrigal could not believe their eyes.
In extra time the euphoria arrived. Bruno played a great long ball to Denis Suárez, whose exquisite first touch took him away from Toure and his quick cross across the box only had to be tapped home by Adrián López. A historic build up play. El Madrigal erupted. Now, Villarreal will look to secure their place in their first European Final in history in the second leg at Anfield, next Thursday 5th May (9:05pm CET).
Villarreal CF: Asenjo; Mario, Bailly (Musacchio, m. 75), Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Jonathan dos Santos (Samu Castillejo, m. 71), Pina, Bruno, Denis Suárez; Bakambu and Soldado (Adrián, m. 73).
Liverpool FC: Mignolet; Clyne, Touré, Lovren, Alberto Moreno; Lallana, Allen, Lucas, Milner; Firmino (Benteke, m. 89) and Coutinho (Ibe, m. 46).
Goal: 1-0. Min. 92: Adrián.
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN). Cautioned: Jaume Costa for Villarreal.
Stadium: El Madrigal.