Liverpool survive Villareal comeback to reach Champions League final

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Liverpool advanced to the Champions League final on Tuesday night after coming from two goals down to beat Villareal 3-2.

Liverpool went into the second leg with a 2-0 advantage from the first leg at Anfield on 27 April.

But that advantage was halved within five minutes in the rain lashing down at the Estadio de la Céramaica

Pervis Estupinan’s cross from the left was diverted back across goal by Etienne Capoue and Boulaye Dia slotted home to the delight of the Villareal faithful.

Unai Emery's side piled on the pressure and continued to disrupt the normally slick and cohesive Liverpool side.

The aggregate leveller came four minutes before the pause.

Capoue escaped Andrew Robertson on the right wing and swung over a cross. Francis Coquelin met it at the far post with a powerful header beyond the reach of Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson.

Villareal's remontada was up and running.

Jamie Carragher, the former Liverpool defender turned TV analyst, tweeted at half-time for tactical changes.

And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp appeared to have heeded Carragher's exhortation.

The German sent out Luis Diaz instead of Dioga Jota.

And the Merseysiders were transformed. They oozed energy and life where before listlessness and sloppiness had reigned.

Fabinho fired them into the aggregate lead on 62 minutes.

Comeback

And Diaz added Liverpool's second five minutes later to make it 4-2 overall. The 25-year-old Colombian ran through a static Villareal rearguard to nod Trent Arnold-Alexander's cross from the right past the stricken goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

Sadio Mané completed the destruction after 74 minutes. The Senegal international was sent clear and in a foot face he slid the ball past Rulli who had rushed out and then hurdled Gionvani Lo Celso's crude challenge to roll the ball into the empty net.

"It was hard work," said Liverpool skipper Virgil van Dijk. "We should forget the first half as soon as possible. We had to dig deep. We had to be very mature and in the second-half we were outstanding with and without the ball."

In the second semi-final on Wednesday, Real Madrid entertain Manchester City. The English Premier side won last week's first leg 4-3 at the Etihad.

Madrid, who claimed a record extending 35th top flight Spanish title on Saturday night, are seeking a 14th victory in European club football's most prestigious tournament.

City, who lead the English Premier League by a point, are trying to reach the final for the second consecutive year.

“Whoever we play in the final will be a nightmare to play against," added Van Dijk.

"We know City inside out and they know us. We know how intense those games are.

And Real Madrid are Real Madrid: such a big club, with Karim Benzema who's in-form striker."

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