Only one step away from the Final. Villarreal fell in the Semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League after losing 3-0 to Liverpool at Anfield in a tie greatly effected by the referee’s controversial calls, as referee Viktor Kassai harshly sent off Víctor Ruiz and didn’t give a clear penalty in favour of Villarreal after Denis Suárez was pushed by Alberto Moreno.
The Submarine had two clear chances on goal shortly after kick off. The first saw Soldado set up Mario, whose powerful shot forced Mignolet to make a great save. Only seconds later, the Yellows had the chance to go ahead again as Bakambu’s individual play set up Jonathan do Santos, but his shot sailed over.
In spite of Villarreal’s efforts, it was Liverpool who scored first. A corner from the left wing was converted by Sturridge, despite Bruno’s attempt to clear (1-0, 7th minute).
The match got more complicated, the atmosphere was tense and the Liverpool crowd deafening, but it was a draw with everything still to play for. The English side pressured high, forcing the Yellows to sit back and use the counterattack as their weapon. Villarreal’s last chance in the first half fell to the feet of Bakambu, but his weak shot was easily gathered up by Mignolet.
At the start of the second half Roberto Soldado had the 1-1 within his grasp, but his header from a Jonathan free kick went over. Shortly later, Sturridge broke on a Liverpool counterattack but his shot was kept out by an agile, cat-like save from Areola.
Liverpool were on the verge of scoring their second and it didn’t take long to come. Daniel Sturridge was the goal scorer again after he scored from close range, controlling and slotting the ball home after a great through ball from Firmino. The Liverpool number 15’s effort went in off the post.
The game got even more difficult for Villarreal after Víctor Ruiz was harshly sent off after two yellow cards, with 20 minutes to go.
The referee Viktor Kassai became the star of the show for the wrong reasons. Most notably because he didn’t give a penalty after Alberto Moreno fouled Denis Suárez in the box with a quarter of an hour to go.
The definitive 3-0 was scored by Lallana in the 80th minute. Firmino did well to get into the box from the left wing and his cross eventually found the number 20 who guided it into the back of the net for the Reds.
The Final will have to wait.
Liverpool FC: Mignolet; Clyne, Touré, Lovren, Alberto Moreno; Lallana, Can, Milner; Coutinho (Allen, m. 82), Firmino (Benteke, m. 88) and Sturridge (Lucas, m. 92).
Villarreal CF: Areola; Mario, Musacchio, Víctor Ruiz, Jaume Costa; Jonathan dos Santos (Bonera, m. 72), Pina (Trigueros, m. 59), Bruno, Denis Suárez; Bakambu and Soldado (Adrián, m. 68).
Goals: 1-0. Min. 7: Sturridge. 2-0. Min. 63: Sturridge. 3-0. Min. 80: Lallana.
Referee: Viktor Kassai (HUN). Cautioned: Clyne for Liverpool; Soldado and Denis Suárez for Villarreal. Sent off: Víctor Ruiz (m. 70) for Villarreal.