The Yellows gave the fans a reason to dream as they put Liverpool in great trouble in a memorable match
Villarreal came within a whisker of victory against Liverpool FC. The Yellows took an early lead and went in at half-time 2-0 up. They had the English side on the ropes, but the Reds found some good fortune in the second half to turn the game around and seal qualification for the UEFA Champions League final.
The Estadio de la Cerámica was in arguably the best atmosphere in its history. Long before the game against Liverpool kicked off, the Yellows fans showed that this was a historic match; the most important game the stadium has ever seen.
Regardless of the pouring rain that fell in the build-up to the game, the fans accompanied the team on their arrival at the ground. The party continued in style in the stands of the stadium. The fans sang the anthem ‘a capela’ and wore a spectacular banner before the start of the match. Breathtaking.
With the fans cheering on the eleven yellow gladiators, the match kicked off. The atmosphere was so imposing that in just three minutes, the Yellows had already scored the first goal. From the left flank, Estupiñán slipped a great ball into the box for Capoue, who, at the far post, laid the ball off for Boulaye Dia to send the Estadio de la Cerámica into a madness. The ‘groguet’ goal was a shot of adrenaline for the Yellows, who were now clear in the tie.
Five minutes before half-time, La Cerámica exploded. Villarreal scored the second. Francis Coquelin beat Allisson with an unstoppable header after an exceptional Étienne Capoue cross. With 2-0 on the scoreboard, the match went into the break while the public jumped up and down, sung and enjoyed like never before with their team. Unforgettable.
At the start of the second half, Liverpool FC, who had seen their lead from the first leg disappear, woke up and started to pepper the home box, which they hardly did during the first 45 minutes. With an hour on the clock, Fabinho got one back with a shot which was lucky to end up in the back of the net.
As in the first leg, the second Reds’ goal came quickly. Luis Díaz hurt the Yellows with a header which made it 2-2. T the 74th minute, Villarreal pushing forward, Mané made it 2-3 with a quick counter attack.
Regardless of the result, because of the form of fighting, the way of defending Villarreal, and giving hope to the fans, more than 23,000 Villareal fans at the end gave an emotional reception to the players, thanking them for this great Champions League run.
Villarreal: Rulli; Foyth, R. Albiol (M. Trigueros, m. 79), Pau, Estupiñán (Serge Aurier, m. 79); Parejo, Capoue, Coquelin (A. Pedraza, m. 68); Gerard (Chukwueze, m. 68), Dia (Paco Alcácer, m. 79), Lo Celso.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson (Tsimikas, m. 80); Fabinho (Milner, m. 84), Keita (Henderson, m. 80), Thiago (C. Jones, m. 80); Jota (Díaz, m. 46), Salah, Mané.
Goals: 1-0. Min. 3: Dia. 2-0. Min. 41: Coquelin. 2-1. Min. 62: Fabinho. 2-2. Min. 67: Díaz. 2-3. Min. 74: Mané.
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Netherlands). Booked: Lo Celso, Pau Torres (Villarreal), Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool). Sent off: Capoue (Villarreal).
Matchday information: Match between Villarreal and Liverpool FC, corresponding to the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg.