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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp talks about guiding the first-team to the Champions League, Carabao Cup and FA Cup finals in the same year

Following Liverpool's 3-2 win over Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, Jurgen Klopp has opened up about coaching the first team to reach the finals of the three knockout competitions in which they have played participated this season. (Author: Gardener)

Jurgen KloppFollowing Liverpool's 3-2 win over Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, Jurgen Klopp has opened up about coaching the first team to reach the finals of the three knockout competitions in which they have played participated this season. Following Liverpool's 3-2 win over Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, Jurgen Klopp has opened up about coaching the first team to reach the finals of the three knockout competitions in which they have played participated this season. Liverpool won the Carabao Cup in February, meet Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday 14 May and will be in the Champions League final on Saturday 28 May after beating Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate attend in Paris. At his post-match press conference (via Liverpoolfc.com), Klopp was keen to state that nothing had been accomplished apart from the Carabao Cup win with two finals remaining. That's what we've done so far, we've played every game available. "I know all the stories and things like that and fans from other clubs. In the first half today, a lot of people might have been happy that we took a hit, but it's really difficult to reach three finals - that's probably why no one has made it this far." Klopp promised Liverpool fans his team will do their best in the FA Cup and Champions League finals but knows they will face difficult opponents in both. "But we're playing against incredibly strong teams in these finals, so we'll see. We'll definitely try, but that it's difficult, I could have told you, not knowing that no one has done it before because it is really difficult."

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Diaz's momentum, flair driving Liverpool's quadruple bid

The January transfer market has often been seen as a place where desperate clubs act to salvage their season. Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson previously questioned his worth, once saying: "All big transfers happen in the summer. (Author: Gardener)

DiazThe January transfer market has often been seen as a place where desperate clubs act to salvage their season. And nowhere was this more evident than in the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday. For once, Liverpool were in trouble, trailing 2-0 at half-time and playing so poorly that when manager Jurgen Klopp asked his assistant Peter Krawietz to come up with an example of the players following pre-game tactical instructions, the response was: “ I can't find one.” The sprightly Colombian winger brought energy to Liverpool and his direct drive and penetrating power revived the team early in the second half. He scored one of three goals in 12 minutes to turn the game as the Reds won 3-2 and advanced 5-2 on aggregate to their third Champions League final in five years. Spending €45m to land Diaz from Porto looks like a steal. "You don't expect miracles from this type of player right away," said Klopp, referring to January signings like Diaz. It's not just about what Diaz does on and off the ball - his work rate is as impressive as his wonderful first touches and tricks - but also how his introduction to the team is affecting his teammates. With Diaz becoming the go-to choice on the left wing, Sadio Mane has been pushed inwards towards a more mobile centre-forward and is in his best phase of the season. Indeed, Diaz and Mane eclipse Mohamed Salah, the most famous member of Liverpool's top three and the team's top scorer this season. Andrew Robertson, playing at attacking left-back behind Diaz, also makes the most of the space created by Diaz's occupation of defenders. and he said within seconds he was up to speed," former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told BT Sport. "He said he was just a Liverpool player straight away from the first training session." Certainly, Diaz's full debut against Leicester at Anfield on February 10 was one to enjoy, with some of his touches and movements impressing Liverpool fans elicited "Wow". He got him a long pass with the instep of his right foot tucked behind his left leg during the recent Merseyside derby against Everton. For the crucial second goal of the day, it was his acrobatic scissor strike that Divock Origi transformed. A week earlier, Diaz had tormented Manchester City with a brilliant first-half performance in Liverpool's 3-2 win in the FA Cup semi-finals and scored the opener in a 4-0 league win over Manchester United a few days later. Diaz's rise coincided with a slight dip in performance from Diogo Jota, the Portuguese striker whose arrival at the start of the 2020-21 season finally broke up the long-established front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino. Firmino, so highly regarded by Klopp for his work output, could now become Liverpool's No 5 attacker with the strength of the squad. Diaz, 25, finishes this season with more than 60 appearances for club and country, starting with his three appearances for Colombia in July's Copa America. He already has a League Cup Winners' medal - having started the final against Chelsea, which Liverpool won on penalties in February - and will most likely now be in the FA Cup final on May 14 and the Champions League final on May 28. May start against Chelsea. And let's not forget that Liverpool are also in contention for the Premier League title as Klopp's side are a point behind City with four games to go. Liverpool are on the verge of delivering what could be the best season by a European club and Diaz, who has been at Anfield for less than four months, is the focus.

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Liverpool's 'mental monsters' are flexing muscles to keep the quadruple offer alive

Liverpool (AFP) - Fifty-seven games in a grueling season Liverpool could have collapsed when a 2-0 first-leg lead was wiped out by an inspired game from Villarreal before half-time to reach their first-ever Champions League final. Instead, the Reds will make their third appearance in five seasons in European club football after […] (Author: Gardener)

Liverpool's 'Liverpool (AFP) - Fifty-seven games in a grueling season Liverpool could have collapsed when a 2-0 first-leg lead was wiped out by an inspired game from Villarreal before half-time to reach their first-ever Champions League final. Instead, the Reds will be in European club football for the third time in five seasons after hitting back to win Tuesday's game 3-2 and progress to the semi-finals 5-2 on aggregate. "I told the lads before the game I'd like to read the headlines that 'the mentality monsters were in town'," said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp beaming. Six games now separate Klopp's men from a feat unprecedented in English football - winning all four major trophies on offer in the same season. The League Cup is already in the trophy cabinet after Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties in the final in February. A rematch of this match will take place on 14 May in the FA Cup Final. Liverpool's Premier League hopes still depend on Manchester City holding a point clear at the top of the table with four games left. And the two teams that have dominated English football for the past five years could face off on the biggest stage of them all when City take on Real Madrid in the other semi-final on Wednesday. In 28 games in 2022 ahead of Tuesday's game in Spain, Klopp's men were a total of 53 minutes behind. However, the huge resource gap between the clubs was demonstrated when Klopp was able to free up £50m ($63m) when he signed Luis Diaz at the break in January. The Colombian, along with some generous goalkeepers from Villarreal stopper Geronimo Rulli, turned the game back in Liverpool's favor as Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane scored three goals in 12 minutes. "He's a special, special player," said Andy Robertson of Diaz. Liverpool's rich European Cup tradition was born in the 1970s and 1980s when they became the dominant force in English football and won the trophy four times. They won it again in 2005 under Rafael Benitez and famously came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat AC Milan on penalties and Klopp's side beat Tottenham in the 2019 final. A win at the Stade de France would see them alongside with seven titles make AC Milan the second most successful club in the history of the competition. Liverpool had reached the Champions League final twice in three decades and had not won a domestic league title since 1990. "It feels like it's the first (final) to be honest because it's always so special," said Klopp. "For me, it's the best club competition in the world. "With what feels like 500 games the lads have played, it's totally normal that the first half can happen, but reacting the way we did made it very special again and we're really happy about that .” Klopp's fourth Champions League final equals the current record for a manager set by the late Miguel Munoz, Marcelo Lippi, Alex Ferguson and Carlo Ancelotti. Pep Guardiola could join that list if City make it to Paris, while Ancelotti will hold the record alone should 13-time winners Madrid overcome a 4-3 deficit in the first leg. "Whoever it's going to be, it's going to be massive," Klopp said. Denying Liverpool their seventh European title will certainly take a lot of effort.

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Liverpool survive the horror and advance to the Champions League final

VILLARREAL, Spain (AP) - Liverpool players stared at each other in disbelief. Manager Jürgen Klopp watched in awe from the bench. With that, Liverpool had gambled away their two-goal advantage from the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal and their place in the final was suddenly in jeopardy. (Author: Gardener)

the Champions LeagueVILLARREAL, Spain (AP) - Liverpool players stared at each other in disbelief. With that, Liverpool had gambled away their two-goal advantage from the first leg of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal and their place in the final was suddenly in jeopardy. Would Liverpool be the latest powerhouse to be stunned by the humble Spanish club? Liverpool rallied in the second half, defeating Villarreal 3-2 and reaching their third Champions League final in five seasons on Tuesday. "You could see how impressed we were with them in the first half," said Klopp, who will be in charge of his fourth Champions League final alongside Miguel Muñoz, Alex Ferguson, Carlo Ancelotti and Marcello Lippi. After Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin put Villarreal ahead in the 41st minute, Fabinho, substitute Luis Díaz and Sadio Mané scored in the second half to propel Liverpool into the final for the first time since winning their sixth European title in 2019 . It will be Liverpool's 10th final in Europe's top club competition. Based in a town of 50,000 in southern Spain, Villarreal had eliminated Juventus in the round of 16 and Bayern Munich in the quarters. Unai Emery's side played one man short of 86th after Étienne Capoue, who assisted in both Villarreal goals, was sent off with a second yellow card. Liverpool will play the final in Paris on May 28 against either Premier League rivals Manchester City or 13-time European champions Real Madrid. They meet in Madrid on Wednesday, with City defending a 4-3 first-leg win in England. The win also keeps Liverpool's hopes alive of a 'quadruple' - winning all four major trophies in one season. The visitors dominated in the first leg but looked lost on Tuesday when Villarreal pressed early. It didn't take long for Villarreal to level the deficit in the first leg as Dia scored from close range after a Capoue pass in the third minute. Villarreal wanted a penalty after Giovani Lo Celso collided with Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker, but moments later they scored the second goal through a header from former Arsenal midfielder Francis Coquelin into the top corner following a well-placed right cross from Capoue. Liverpool's defense looked flat on both goals, leaving room for Villarreal's players to hit the net. The English club improved significantly in the second half. It was almost getting closer when Trent Alexander-Arnold's shot deflected off a defender and hit the crossbar in the 55th, and the first goal was scored in the 62nd with a low shot from Fabinho, which went through goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli's legs went. Liverpool capitalized on Villarreal's disappointment and Díaz, who helped turn the game around after entering half-time, equalized with a header in the 67th minute. Mané scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway in the 74th after passing Rulli outside the box and shooting into open net. With his goal, Mané became Africa's top scorer in the round of 16 in the Champions League era. "Their first goal hurt us a lot," said Villarreal defender Raúl Albiol. "They were better than us in the second half. Having won the first leg, Liverpool have not been eliminated in the knockout stages since 2001/02. They have scored a club record 139 goals in all competitions that season. The return to the Champions League could be difficult for Villarreal as they are currently not in the Spanish league qualifying zone. The defeat also means there will be no first Champions League trophy for Emery, who has never progressed past the last 16. He has won four Europa League trophies in his career, including last season with Villarreal. With Villarreal eliminated, Shakhtar Donetsk will automatically go straight into the group stage next season. The spot has been vacated because this season's winner will be either Liverpool, Madrid or City, who have already qualified via their league position.

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Fulham Deputy Chairman Tony Khan appears to confirm the transfer of Fabio Carvalho to Liverpool

Fulham Deputy Chairman Tony Khan appears to have confirmed the transfer of Fabio Carvalho to Liverpool. (Author: Gardener)

Tony KhanFulham Deputy Chairman Tony Khan appears to have confirmed the transfer of Fabio Carvalho to Liverpool. Fulham Deputy Chairman Tony Khan appears to have confirmed the transfer of Fabio Carvalho to Liverpool. Khan spoke to The Athletic after Fulham's fabulous 7-0 win over Luton Town, which confirmed them as English Premier League winners, as he gave an update on the talented 19-year-old's situation. Liverpool had reportedly agreed a £5million plus £2.7million surcharges deal with the west London club a few weeks ago and Khan appears to have confirmed the news. "I like Fabio very much. Khan acknowledged the contribution Carvalho has made this season and admitted he will be a big loss. They have a great relationship and Fabio has been great for us. He's a big part of the squad and it's a massive loss but because we've done good deals we can do good deals to make sure we're strong in that position. Carvalho was on target in Fulham's emphatic win over the Hatters and you can watch his goal HERE.

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Diaz's momentum, flair driving Liverpool's quadruple bid

Luis Diaz has an amazing impact on Liverpool's bid for an unprecedented quadrupling of key trophies after... (Author: Gardener)

LiverpoolThe January transfer market has often been seen as a place where desperate clubs act to salvage their season. And nowhere was this more evident than in the Champions League semifinals on Tuesday. For once, Liverpool were in trouble, trailing 2-0 at half-time and playing so poorly that when manager Jurgen Klopp asked his assistant Peter Krawietz to come up with an example of the players following pre-game tactical instructions, the response was: “ I can't find one.” The sprightly Colombian winger brought energy to Liverpool and his direct drive and penetrating power revived the team early in the second half. He scored one of three goals in 12 minutes to turn the game as the Reds won 3-2 and advanced 5-2 on aggregate to their third Champions League final in five years. Spending €45m to land Diaz from Porto looks like a steal. "You don't expect miracles from this type of player right away," said Klopp, referring to January signings like Diaz. It's not just about what Diaz does on and off the ball - his work rate is as impressive as his wonderful first touches and tricks - but also how his introduction to the team is affecting his teammates. With Diaz becoming the go-to choice on the left wing, Sadio Mane has been pushed inwards towards a more mobile centre-forward and is in his best phase of the season. Indeed, Diaz and Mane eclipse Mohamed Salah, the most famous member of Liverpool's top three and the team's top scorer this season. Andrew Robertson, playing at attacking left-back behind Diaz, also makes the most of the space created by Diaz's occupation of defenders. and he said within seconds he was up to speed," former Liverpool striker Michael Owen told BT Sport. "He said he was just a Liverpool player straight away from the first training session." Diaz's full debut against Leicester at Anfield on February 10 was certainly one to enjoy, with some of his touch and movement at Liverpool- Fans elicited a "wow". He got him a long pass with the instep of his right foot tucked behind his left leg during the recent Merseyside derby against Everton. For the crucial second goal of the day, it was his acrobatic scissor strike that Divock Origi transformed. A week earlier, Diaz had tormented Manchester City with a brilliant first-half performance in Liverpool's 3-2 win in the FA Cup semi-finals and scored the opener in a 4-0 league win over Manchester United a few days later. Diaz's rise coincided with a slight dip in performance from Diogo Jota, the Portuguese striker whose arrival at the start of the 2020-21 season finally broke up the long-established front three of Salah, Mane and Roberto Firmino. Firmino, so highly regarded by Klopp for his work output, could now become Liverpool's No 5 attacker with the strength of the squad. Diaz, 25, finishes this season with more than 60 appearances for club and country, starting with his three appearances for Colombia in July's Copa America. He already has a League Cup Winners' medal - having started the final against Chelsea, which Liverpool won on penalties in February - and will most likely now be in the FA Cup final on May 14 and the Champions League final on May 28. May start against Chelsea. And let's not forget that Liverpool are also in contention for the Premier League title as Klopp's side are a point behind City with four games to go. Liverpool are on the verge of delivering what could be the best season by a European club and Diaz, who has been at Anfield for less than four months, is the focus.

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Liverpool fight back and reach the Champions League final with a win over Villarreal

Liverpool weathered a first-half scare to reach the Champions League final with a 5-2 aggregate win on Tuesday with a 3-2 win at Villarreal after the night threatened to turn sour for Jurgen Klopp's side. (Author: Gardener)

the Champions LeagueVILLARREAL, Spain (Reuters) - Liverpool weathered a first-half scare to reach the Champions League final with a 3-2 win at Villarreal on Tuesday with a 5-2 aggregate win after the night threatened to turn sour for Jurgen Klopp's website. The visitors fell 2-0 with a poor first-half performance before striking back with three goals in 12 minutes after the break and progressing to their third European Cup final in five seasons. The Premier League side had won 2-0 in England but looked in danger of getting bogged down on a sodden pitch in Spain as the hosts pushed them back with goals from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin. However, Liverpool emerged transformed after half-time and goals from Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane sealed the deal, with Villarreal ending the game with 10 men after Etienne Capoue showed a late red card. Klopp's side meet either Real Madrid or Manchester City, who play the second leg of their semi-finals on Wednesday, at the Showpiece in Paris on May 28. Cheered on by their loyal fanbase crammed into their modest stadium, Villarreal opened the duel, scoring after three minutes with a close-range shot from Dia that was greeted with a chant of 'Yes we can!' by the home fans. Villarreal were lifeless in the first leg at Anfield but looked like a very different side when they slammed into Liverpool with the same aggressive play that beat Juventus in the Round of 16 and beat Bayern Munich in the Quarters. Their relentless pressure forced Liverpool to make mistakes they don't normally make, with the visitors' passing accuracy of 66% being the lowest they have achieved in the first half of a game in all competitions this season. Villarreal leveled the tie with a close-range header from Coquelin and seemed poised for a miracle comeback. The hosts had even saved a penalty from referee Danny Makkelie in the 38th minute when Liverpool keeper Alisson Becker came out to smother the ball and then found Giovani Lo Celso in the penalty area. As the pressure mounted from Liverpool it seemed only a matter of time before they scored and the goal finally came down the right after a brilliant combination between Fabinho and Mohamed Salah. The Brazilian midfielder picked up a loose ball near Villarreal, passing two defenders before playing a one-two with the Egyptian. Salah met him with a pass between three defenders that left him alone to score with a low, angled shot that went between the legs of Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli, who endured a difficult game. Seven minutes later, Rulli tried to clear a long pass to Mane from outside the box, missing the ball completely and leaving the Senegalese striker to go into the empty net. Capoue, who had a great first half with two assists, was dismissed with five minutes to go and received a second yellow card for a late challenge on Curtis Jones. And of course we played brilliantly in the second half," said Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool centre-back, adding that Klopp gave them clear instructions at half-time.

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Díaz turns the tide in Villarreal and sends Liverpool into the Champions League final

Liverpool lost 2-0 at half-time but Luis Díaz was the catalyst for the second-half recovery as they won 5-2 on aggregate (Author: Gardener)

DíazA 10th appearance in the European Cup final beckons for Liverpool and a chance to win the tournament for the seventh time. It was a night when her class spoke up, particularly the control and composure with which they've swept everyone in front of them since the turn of the year and raised the prospect of an unprecedented quadruple. The first half had been an ordeal for Jurgen Klopp and his players, the first-leg lead wiped out as Villarreal raged. They scored through Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin and the crazy thing was that the team, who sit seventh in La Liga and have little experience of nights like this, could have had more. As Liverpool reasserted themselves after the break, Klopp's introduction of Luis Díaz down the left was the catalyst. It was like a switch had been flipped and unfortunately the lights went out for Gerónimo Rulli, the unpredictable Villarreal goalkeeper. He was to varying degrees at fault for each of the goals Liverpool turned the tie with, the first being the one he and his team-mates felt the most. Liverpool, unrecognizable since the first half, plays higher, more closed, finds the spaces and their pass patterns. Rulli had the position but in real time the shot appeared to go through him and actually went between his legs. Liverpool was running. Díaz scored the goal his performance deserved, steering his run through Villarreal's last line to rise and flick a header from Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross past Rulli, the keeper feeling the ball go through his again legs walked. And Villarreal then disbanded, Liverpool happily rammed their superiority home. Sadio Mané scored the third goal after Naby Keïta passed him a beautiful ball, but it was another personal disaster for Rulli. He got nothing, Mané reached the ball first, guided it around him and then hit the covering Juan Foyth before rolling into the empty net. The hard truth for Villarreal was that Liverpool could have embellished the goal line. Díaz fired just wide of the far post just before his goal and when the score was 3-2, substitute Curtis Jones was denied by Rulli. Villarreal lost his head. Pau Torres was booked for a naughty tackle on Mané, while Étienne Capoue saw a late red for a second bad tackle. Klopp has endured some crushing lows against Spanish sides during his tenure, most notably defeats to Unai Emery's Sevilla in the 2016 Europa League final and to Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final. It should have been easier - certainly judging by the evidence of the first leg last week when Liverpool choked Villarreal into surrender. But with that cramped and atmospheric stadium bursting with belief, the home side had sped off the blocks. Liverpool had been behind in games by a total of 69 minutes since the turn of the year. They hadn't lost by two goals or more all season. Villarreal ignored her. They had dreamed of scoring the first goal. When it came within three minutes, they were in fantasy land. The early goal was all about Capoue's touch. He ripped through Andy Robertson's back to set up a Pervis Estupiñán cross from the left and the first return was perfect, on a plate for Dia who ran away from Virgil van Dijk. Emery's team faced challenges and repeatedly found place behind Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. Liverpool had to shake their heads to establish some sort of control but it was Villarreal who sniffed the blood and they had the chance to make it 2-0 before 20 minutes was left. Dani Parejo sent a low shot just wide while Gerard Moreno headed in another Estupiñán cross at Robertson when he could have done better. Liverpool barely got going before the break and Villarreal were unlucky not to take a penalty in the 37th minute when Keïta gave the ball away and Moreno replaced Giovani Lo Celso. Alisson seemed hesitant before cleaning it up and if the keeper got a piece of the ball it wasn't entirely on purpose. Villarreal didn't cry. Capoue crossed after coming back into Robertson with a Cruyff corner and Coquelin jumped in front of Alexander-Arnold to go home. Klopp told his players they had to move smarter in the second half, use the ball on the half-turn, shake it up. Villarreal had scored one on one before the break and Liverpool had been too static. Villarreal, meanwhile, seemed to have beaten themselves. Alexander-Arnold watched a shot deflected off Coquelin, looped up and landed on the top of the bar while Díaz blocked an attempted scissors jab from a good position. The tide had turned rather abruptly. Klopp and Liverpool made their way.

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Liverpool must not forget incredible run as the Reds join a special Champions League line

The Reds have made it to three finals in five years but only reaching the parade game in Paris deserves high praise after eliminating Villarreal in the semi-finals (Author: Gardener)

RedsAs Andy Robertson sat down after another breathless and brilliant night, he offered a pause for thought. It's absolutely true, of course, but some at Liverpool could be forgiven just looking to what's next because Jurgen Klopp has made those great days so routine. After beating Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate, the German ensured that was three Champions League finals in five years, making ten in total. It's a consistency not seen since the club's greatest successes began, when Bob Paisley also made it a third time in five years. It was Klopp's first time at the club and he said the feeling was still the same. The German had been asked how that compares to reaching that stage in 2018 and 2019. "Excellent," beamed Klopp. “It feels like the first final. The noises, everything, the nights." Liverpool obviously have the biggest ambitions in football as they aim for an unprecedented quadrupling and much of the talk obviously revolves around the achievements of playing in every possible game of a season but the simple achievement , just reaching a European Cup final should not be forgotten. It's become the world's biggest annual sporting event as Uefa tries to give it more modern trappings and make it 'like the Super Bowl', but its real glory comes from the sheer seriousness of seven decades of football's greatest. Klopp recognized that and reminded his players. They follow the sport's most extraordinary lineage and share the same stage as Alfredo Di Stefano, Eusebio, Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Lionel Messi and so many of the biggest names. But then look at this Liverpool team and the legacy they leave behind. It's worth noting that Sadio Mane acted more like a support act in that first finale of 2018. He's a modern force now, along with Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and - of course - Salah as they prepare for their third experience of such an occasion. Klopp encouraged that. He has now led an England team to more finals than any other coach other than Paisley and Sir Alex Ferguson. Many will also point out that the Manchester United great's four finals took place over two decades, while Klopp's took place in half a decade. It underscores once again how economically stratified European football has become. Wealth was more evenly distributed, meaning there were increasing numbers of contenders from across the continent. Now we've got to the point where one of the wealthiest clubs in Spain – because that's Villarreal – is seen as a real underdog. It could still mean we have a fourth all-English final and the third in four years. It doesn't matter to Klopp or Liverpool though. The German finds himself at one of England's big clubs at this extremely propitious time. Now that Klopp has signed a new contract, we'll likely be talking about more records being broken. Liverpool are already aiming to match AC Milan's seven Champions League titles to move them to second in the pantheon behind Madrid's 13. You still have to play this game and try to win it. Just being there, one must not forget, is a very special achievement.

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Luis Diaz's momentum, Jurgen Klopp's courage keep Liverpool's quadruple in play

After Liverpool went down to Villarreal in the Champions League semifinals, Liverpool switched into high gear as only they can. (Author: Gardener)

LiverpoolAlthough they can now prepare for a 10th Champions League final later this month, against either Manchester City or Real Madrid in Paris, the club's incredible resilience in European competition needed to be proven once again on Tuesday to clinch a 3rd place 2-1 win over Villarreal at the Estadio to seal de la Ceramica. Jurgen Klopp's side were so poor in the first half - passed, passed and passed by their Spanish opponents - that goals from Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin gave Villarreal a 2-0 lead that nullified Liverpool's two-goal advantage from the first leg last week. Liverpool's three touches in Villarreal's penalty area before half-time were the lowest in a first half of the entire season in all competitions. Had referee Danny Makkelie awarded the home side a penalty in the 37th minute - four minutes before Coquelin's headed goal - after goalkeeper Alisson Becker came on to bring down Giovani Lo Celso, Liverpool could have been 3-0 down at half-time as the season threatened to implode before a blizzard of 23,000 yellow flags. But Klopp's decision to replace Diogo Jota with Luis Diaz at the break turned the game in Liverpool's favor as the Colombia winger shifted his team's approach from submission to aggressive ambition. Diaz arrived at Villarreal, slowing the pace in the first half and allowing Liverpool to take control of the game. When Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli bailed out Klopp's side with a series of costly mistakes, Diaz had changed the tide and made it an inevitability that Liverpool would reach a third Champions League final in five seasons. - Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only) "Luis (Diaz) had a massive impact - Diogo Jota wasn't the problem in the first half, we had 11 problems. I wanted the players to be mentality monsters from the first minute , but Villarreal took all risks in the first half and we had a football problem to solve. "We've reached a final but three of the competitions aren't over yet. The final is on our schedule and we need to be prepared for it, but it will be difficult but sure at half-time in Villarreal's tiny stadium. Liverpool completed the so-called 'Miracle of Istanbul' by defeating AC Milan from a 3-0 deficit fought back and won the 2005 Champions League final, and a 3-0 first leg came from behind with a 4-0 win at Anfield over Barcelona in the 2019 semifinals, allowing for a second-half comeback against the Europa League Last season's winner still has some work to do to build on his earlier epic nights of glory. But that win and performance will go down in Liverpool folklore because it demonstrated qualities that are often overlooked given the world-class quality of Klopp's team. To achieve greatness, any athlete or team must overcome adversity in their path, and this has undoubtedly been a test of Leber Pool's determination and fighting spirit. Liverpool rocked poorly in the first half. Villarreal manager Unai Emery had sent his team out with a game plan to relentlessly press Liverpool and put pressure on the defence. In midfield, Etienne Capoue (who received a second booking in the 85th minute), Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin played superbly while Lo Celso found space to punch holes in Liverpool's defence. Up front, Gerard Moreno and Dia tormented Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate. Dia's third-minute opener after Capoue's break gave Emery's team the belief that they could harm Liverpool and they dominated the game, with Coquelin making it 2-0 in the 41st minute. It led to Klopp's arguably most important half of the season and he got on the front foot by introducing Diaz, who has been a sensation since signing from Porto in January for £50m. With Diaz firing down the left flank, Liverpool gained possession and created chances and they reclaimed the overall lead in the tie Fabinho fired through Rulli's legs in the 62nd minute. Five minutes later, Diaz headed an Alexander-Arnold cross to make it 2-2 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate before Sadio Mane scored the goal in the 74th minute after Rulli was eliminated from his area and missed the ball badly. Having been on course to be knocked out, Liverpool had turned the tie within half an hour and that was simply down to the manager's audacity and the team's ability to shift into higher gear - the best teams can do that so quickly and with such things devastating effect - and Liverpool are in that bracket. But also Manchester City and Real Madrid, who meet in Madrid on Wednesday to decide who will face Liverpool on May 28. Real have had their unforgettable battles against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea this season, but City have yet to be tested that way. But if it comes to the Liverpool duel against City in Paris, the mentality of Klopp and his players will not be a question mark - and the opponent will know that too. That's why that victory in Villarreal was so important. It sent a message to the rest that Liverpool never know when they're beaten and that could result in them winning four trophies this season. No English side have ever won the quadruple - the FA Cup, Carabao Cup, UEFA Champions League and English Premier League - in one season, but Liverpool took a convincing step closer.

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