Five things we learned from Liverpool's clash with Villarreal

Liverpool are through to the Europa League final after comprehensively overcoming Villarreal under the Anfield lights.

Here are five things we learned from the 3-0 semi-final second leg win which sees the Reds through 3-1 on aggregate.

1. Villarreal could not cope with the atmosphere

Villarreal’s Victor Ruiz (centre) is sent off by referee Viktor Kassai (Nigel French/PA)

Thousands of fans lined Anfield Road to welcome the teams and the din only increased when the players emerged in front of a packed house. That fervour rattled Villarreal as Bruno Soriano quickly turned the ball into his own goal, with the likes of Denis Suarez and Roberto Soldado losing their cool during a tempestuous first half. The latter was taken off before he received a second booking, but Victor Ruiz saw red for his second booking as indiscipline cost the visitors.

2. Emre certainly can

Liverpool’s Emre Can (left) and Villarreal’s Bruno battle for the ball (Nigel French/PA)

Ankle ligament damage at Borussia Dortmund last month appeared to end the Germany international’s season, yet he was back in the team just 21 days later. Emre Can showed no sign of rustiness in a lung-busting display, shielding the defence with aplomb, reading the play impressively and providing an attacking outlet when necessary. The versatile defensive midfielder is likely to play another key role in the Basel finale.

3. Anfield’s small technical area breeds contempt

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp (left) and Villarreal manager Marcelino Garcia Toral (right) gesture on the touchline (Nigel French/PA)

There can be few smaller technical areas than the one at Anfield, where just a matter of feet and a deafened fourth official separates the managers. Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp and highly-strung counterpart Marcelino argued as tempers frayed in the first half, with the feistiness continuing after the break.

4. Roberto Firmino is the catalyst

Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino takes a flying leap (Nigel French/PA)

There are few more intelligent attacking players than the man signed from Hoffenheim last summer. Firmino so often releases the ball at the opportune moment and takes out opponents by his movement and dribbles. That sharpness of thought was evident from the outset, with his cutback leading to the early own goal before sliding through Daniel Sturridge for the second. Firmino was also key in the third, finding Sturridge for an effort Adam Lallana directed home.

5. Dejan Lovren has turned the corner

Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren (Adam Davy/PA)

The last-gasp quarter-final heroics against Borussia Dortmund further ingratiated the defender to a fan base that had questioned why on earth they signed him from Southampton. Lovren has belatedly blossomed under Klopp’s tutorship and was impressive throughout the second leg, marshalling the defence and reading the play well. Hard in the tackle but composed when Villarreal attacked, it was another impressive display from the Croatia international.


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