Premier League top team Liverpool have taken one step towards the UEFA Champions League final.
Liverpool are on the verge of reaching their third Champions League final in five seasons, breaking Villarreal’s resistance with a 2-0 win in the first leg of their semi-final at Anfield on Wednesday.
Villarreal boss Unai Emery’s defensive play planned two goals in two minutes with a cross from Pervis Estupinan Jordan Henderson’s own net.
The Reds remain in the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup for an unprecedented quadruple.
And with the exception of a huge inconvenience when the teams reunite in southern Spain in six days, Liverpool’s season will end on 28 May in Paris.
Villarreal’s population will fit inside Anfield but 3,000 travel support initially tried their best to match the noise of home support.
Liverpool Have Taken One Step Towards 2021-22 Champions League Final
In contrast to the free-flowing thrill of Manchester City’s 4-3 win over Real Madrid in the other semifinal on Tuesday, Emery’s men followed the same tactics that followed Juventus and Bayern Munich behind their ball.
However, the Yellow Submarine could just put a glove on Jurgen Klopp’s men as Liverpool had to spend their time calculating their dominance.
The Reds have now scored 135 goals this season, but were kept goalless in the disappointing first 45 minutes.
The best opening means Mohammed Salah headed in a pinpoint cross.
The Senegalese also saw a devious attempt fly wide, and Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulie escaped punishment without a little erratic handling from a number of speculative attempts.
Another long-range strike was to break the deadlock before the nearest Liverpool break as Thiago Alcantara’s sweet strike post was clipped.
The six-time European champions started at high speed in the second half and quickly began to pierce Villarreal’s rearguard.
Fabinho’s goal was disallowed for offside against Virgil Van Dyke in the build-up.
Moments later, Anfield exploded as the error-prone Rulie eventually had to pay the Spaniards for a weak attempt to parse Henderson’s deviant cross.
The last thing the spectators did was open the floodgates, but they were powerless to stop the wave of Liverpool attacks.
Salah was the architect with a perfectly weighted pass for quality to overtake Rulie in the 55th minute.
The offside flag came once again to rescue Villarreal to cancel Andy Robertson’s strike.
Klopp called Emery “the king of the cup” for his stunning Europa League record, one of his four wins in that competition as Sevilla boss against Germany in his first season at Liverpool in 2016.
However, for six years Liverpool were a different creature and the limitations of a team in seventh place in La Liga were shown as they struggled to mount any kind of reaction to go back.
Luis Diaz collapsed across the goal face as Liverpool threatened to kill the tie-off with a third.
The English giants had to settle for a two-goal advantage, but they still have not lost by two goals in 55 games this season.