Liverpool placed a foot in the Champions League final on Wednesday night with a 2-0 victory over Villareal at Anfield.
Pervis Estupinan put through his own net just after the pause and before the visitors could recover Sadio Mané doubled the advantage after he latched on to a slick through ball from Mohamed Salah.
Villareal, who lie seventh in Spain's La Liga, will attempt to recover the deficit during the second leg of the semi-final on 3 May at the Estadio de la Ceramica.
Gary Lineker, the former England striker turned broadcaster, hailed Liverpool’s performance on social media.
“They’re such a good side that they make tricky encounters look fairly straightforward,” he said.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp warned his players before the match not to take Villareal lightly.
But they found little generosity from a Liverpool backline marshalled with imperious authority by Virgil Van Dijk.
“We had a bit of momentum after the first goal and the noise in here was incredible," Liverpool defender Andy Robertson told British broadcaster BT Sport.
"It took us to the second one. We would have liked one more but a clean sheet and two goals, we can’t argue with that.
“Our intensity has been high for the last couple of games. We have had a hectic schedule but we are enjoying it. There is still work to do but we are happy.”
This weekend, Villareal will attempt to make up ground in the hunt for a place from the Spanish top flight in next season’s European competitions.
Unai Emery’s men lie three points behind Real Sociedad who occupy the berth for the Europa Conference League.
Liverpool are in a dogfight for the English Premier League crown with fellow Champions League semi-finalists Manchester City.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, who are a point behind the pacesetters Manchester City, play at Newcastle United on Saturday lunchtime before travelling to Spain for the second leg of the semi-final
Manchester City are at relegation threatened Leeds United before their voyage to Real Madrid who they beat 4-3 on Tuesday night at the Etihad.