Villarreal vs Liverpool final score: Reds reach 10th European Cup final

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Liverpool played as poorly as they’ve played in months for 45 minutes and it still didn’t matter as the Reds scored three second-half goals to advance to their 10th European Cup Final with a 3-2 second-leg win over Villarreal on Tuesday that gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a 5-2 aggregate victory.

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First-half goals from Boulaye Dia and ex-Arsenal man Francis Coquelin had it level at the break, but Liverpool scored for the 28th time in 31 games and then scored again… and again.

Fabinho, Luis Diaz, and Sadio Mane led the three-goal final 45 minutes and Villarreal rarely showed a threat after the Reds got the score line back to 3-2 on aggregate.

Liverpool will meet either Manchester City or Real Madrid in the final on May 28 in France. Man City leads Real Madrid by a goal heading into Wednesday’s second leg.

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Villarreal vs Liverpool

Villarreal 2, Liverpool 3 (Liverpool wins 5-2 on aggregate)

Scorers: Dia (3′), Coquelin (41′), Fabinho (62′), Diaz (62′), Mane (74′)

Shot attempts: Villarreal 5, Liverpool 15

Shots on goal: Villarreal 2, Liverpool 5

Possession: Villarreal 44, Liverpool 56


Three things we learned from Villarreal vs Liverpool

1. Can’t stop scoring: This has a double meaning, in that Villarreal’s two goals at the break meant they’d still need at least one more to complete the upset and, well, Liverpool simply cannot stop scoring. The only times the Reds have been kept off a scoreboard in 2022 were in games that did not cost them anything but further effort: The 1-0 second-leg against Inter Milan in the Round of 16, which obviously wasn’t detrimental to the club’s goal of reaching the European Cup Final, a 0-0 draw with Arsenal in League Cup semifinal first leg, and the 0-0 with Chelsea in the League Cup Final that saw the Reds triumph in penalties.  All told: Since a 1-0 loss to Leicester City on Dec. 28, Liverpool has scored in 28 of 31 matches.

2. What Villarreal did right: Unai Emery’s men didn’t exactly like the first half on fire, rather simply take advantage of a Liverpool back line that, frankly, looked really bad. The fullbacks were exposed and the center backs were not able to bail them out. Trent Alexander-Arnold made amends in a superior second half, but Liverpool is proving time and again that the only teams that can get to them are Man City… and Liverpool.

3. Reds do get a little rub of the green: It was 2-1 on aggregate when Alisson Becker sliding challenge on Giovani Lo Celso was not given as a penalty despite the keeper catching Lo Celso’s right knee with one arm just before the other got the ball. But VAR didn’t review it and Villarreal scored within a few minutes of restart, so it didn’t affect the outcome much, if at all.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane — For 85 minutes, it would’ve been ex-Spurs man Etienne Capoue in defeat. But the man who set up both Villarreal goals was sent off in the 85th for a second yellow card. Fabinho deserves a shot, but Sadio Mane got the winner in addition to drawing five fouls and sending two key passes to teammates. He’s been better than Mohamed Salah this season, and that’s saying something.

Asleep at the switch

Liverpool’s back line has been physical, adventurous, aware, and stingy for most of this year. Not all of this year, and sometimes not all at once.

Surely not….

Un-Rulli play makes Fabinho the hero and the onslaught is on