Villarreal sent Liverpool back to Anfield with a killer blow at the very end of the game, with Adrian Lopez tapping the winner to send El Madrigal into a frenzy.
Liverpool looked set to go back to Anfield with a draw, with both sides missing whatever few chances could be created. Cedric Bakambu came close for the home side after his header hit the crossbar, seconds after the start of second half. Liverpool then nearly saw themselves get a valuable away goal, when Brazilian Roberto Firmino hit low and hard, but at the post.
The Reds seemed to be in control of the game and just as it seemed like it was to end in a draw, the Liverpool defence were caught napping. Dennis Suarez’s cross was met by Adrian Lopez to make it 1-0 to the Yellow Submarine. Liverpool players were furious at the linesman but the flag stayed down and it was all in vain.
Despite Adrian Lopez’ last minute winner, the tie is far from over. Liverpool will look to come back stronger and harder as the showed against Dortmund. Villarreal will go into the game feeling positive about this result but will have to step it up a notch against Liverpool at Anfield.
Villarreal: Marcelino Garcia Toral
Won the battle and will hope to win the war next week at Anfield. Got into an altercation with Klopp but didn’t let it affect him. Had to make all his substitutions before 80 minutes after being forced to take off his defender. Replacing Soldado with Lopez proved to be a masterstroke.
Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp
Will be disappointed after the result. Didn’t get the best out of his team and the decision to start Firmino in place of Sturridge seemed to have backfired. Was forced to take off Coutinho early on in the game but replacing him with Ibe didn’t seem to have had any effect. Was his usual, vocal self trying to bark orders to his players from the sidelines, but will have his work cut out for him next week at Anfield.
Asenjo: 7 – Was hardly troubled through the game, barring a few minor saves.
Gaspar: 6 – Made good runs down the right flank, but Moreno had him covered most of the time. Almost created a chance for Bakambu and Soladado, before sending it wide himself.
Bailly: 6 – Had to be replaced after 75 minutes due to a hamstring injury. Had a decent game and wasn’t troubled too much by Firmino.
Ruiz: 7 – Rarely troubled by Firmino or Coutinho. Held his own and partnered well with Bailly to keep the Liverpool attack quiet.
Costa: 6 – Wasn’t involved as much in the game and was kept somewhat occupied by Liverpool’s attack. Tried to contribute going forward but Lallana and Clyne kept him in his own half for most of the game.
Dos Santos: 7 – Brought off on 74 minutes. Suffered a knock by Moreno in a 50-50 challenge mid way through the first half. Couldn’t contribute properly after that and was limping for the rest of the first half. Tried to break up possession in the middle of the park and had a decent game.
Pina: 6 – The midfielder combined well with Bruno and dos Santos but could never really create enough chances with Lucas and Milner keeping him in check.
Soriano: 6 – Tried to be involved in the game. Created chances for Bakambu but nothing could come off them. Often hassled by Lucas but held his own.
Suarez: 7 – His low cross set up the goal for Adrian Lopez in the dying moments. Had Mignolet to himself but was unselfish. He had a good game and showed the desire to create the chance even in the 92nd minute.
Soldado: 6 – Was taken off for Adrian Lopez in the 73rd minute. Couldn’t threaten the Liverpool back line as much as he would have liked. Kept in check by Toure and Lovren in what was an off day for the ex-Spurs man. Saw a freekick go wide off the mark.
Bakambu: 7 – Kept threatening and tried his best but came up against an inspired Dejan Lovren who kept him quiet for most of the game. Managed to get a few chances on target, including a header.
Lopez: 7 – Seemed like an inspired substitution. After coming on for Soldado, took a while to get into the groove of things but scored the winner off a low Suarez cross, sending El Madrigal into a frenzy.
Mignolet: 7 – Made a superb late save from Bakambu to give the Reds some hope in this tie. Made great saves throughout the game but it was to be undone by the late goal. Distribution of the ball could have been better.
Clyne: 7 – Looked in control of his flank and stood his ground. Disciplined showing from the young England international. Helped going forward with good positioning and made the right flank his own in attack and defence.
Toure: 6 – Made good blocks and stayed strong, but left Mignolet exposed for the goal. Positioned himself well to break up attacks and didn’t keep too much possession, distributing it well.
Lovren: 7 – Handled Bakambu very well for most of the game and prevented the striker from causing too much trouble. On a good run of form and played with confidence and discipline.
Moreno: 6 – Couldn’t make his marauding runs forward as much as he would have liked. Had to stay on his line and recovered well after going forward. Great chance towards the end of the game but let himself down by poor finishing.
Leiva: 6 – Tried to cover as much ground as he could in front of his back four. Kept it simple and helped recover possession. Seemed a bit exposed when Villarreal ran at him.
Allen: 8 Clearly Liverpool’s best player of the night. Kept possession very well, made good decisions. Great movement throughout the game and exuded confidence. Beautifully distributed the ball and read the game superbly.
Milner: 7 – Was involved on both ends of the pitch. Passed the ball around well and showed responsibility. Set up a chance for Firmino and stopped a Villarreal counter-attack with a superb tackle. Good performance from the captain for the night, could have been better on his day.
Lallana: 7 – With Clyne to cover him, did a good job on the right wing. Could have done better, though did manage to get in some crosses. Showed willingness to get on the ball and recover.
Coutinho: 5 – Was substituted at half time. Not his usual self and couldn’t control the game. Had a few shots which didn’t trouble Asenjo.
Firmino: 6 – Showed good work rate and movement, but was careless in possession and decision making. Had a shot hit the post, with a good save from Asenjo. Didn’t make any or take his chances well.
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