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Warriors prove they can win ugly against Nuggets in Game 5, a crucial piece of their potential championship puzzle

As the Warriors advance to Round 2, they must continue to find ways without winning their A-game (Author: Gardener)

NuggetsAnd boy, the Golden State Warriors are good at it. When everything clicks and the ball moves faster than the speed of sound, it's almost as if the Golden State's offense isn't made up of five separate individuals, but rather a cohesive organism that shares a single mind, spirit, and intuition. Energy appeared to be drained after the jump in Game 5 against the Denver Nuggets, with the Chase Center fans being a little too quiet for the players' liking and asked several times to up the intensity of their cheering and affection. The three-man lineup, consisting of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole, made its debut but didn't exactly resemble the mythical three-headed beast Cerberus that Nuggets trainer Michael Malone compared it to earlier in the series. The game was ugly, with seemingly more fouls than shots fired in the first half. The Warriors' offense, which had averaged 125.6 points per 100 possessions in the first four games of the series, seemed mired in a fog worthy of its Bay Area roots. "It's been three years since we've been in the playoffs and you kind of forget how difficult closeout games really are," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. "To be honest I think for three quarters it was like our guys - our main guys, Steph, Draymond, Klay - maybe a little bit forgot how difficult it is to complete a streak." In the end looked However, the Warriors took to the scoreboard and found that they advanced to the second round of the playoffs after a 102-98 slugfest. It was the team's first win in a playoff series since 2019, when Kevin Durant was still on the roster. That they're shutting down the Nuggets even when their offense is nowhere near peak shows the kind of versatility this team will need in the next series and beyond -- if they get that far. For the game, Thompson and Poole combined to shoot 2-for-10 from the 3-point line. Curry was 2-for-6 from Deep in the first half and 4-for-11 overall. The nets stayed largely dry for the Splash Brothers, including their newly named third sibling Poole, for most of the night. If a team wants to be successful in the NBA playoffs, they have to find ways to win when their stars are fighting offensively. The Warriors did that on Wednesday with a more disciplined defense, timely contributions from role-players and a spectacular finish from their Superstar. Defense first, which gave the Nuggets 20 free-throw attempts in the first half compared to just seven for the Warriors. Nikola Jokic, as usual, was outstanding with 30 points, 19 rebounds and eight assists (Draymond Green said "thank you for making me better" to the reigning MVP after the game), but the foul save wasn't just for him. Aaron Gordon had eight free throws in the first half. The Warriors' defensive game plan always begins with "defending without fouling," and their failure in that department gave the Nuggets an eight-point lead after three quarters. Things changed at this point, however, with Green crediting the coaching staff for executing a box-and-one as the Warriors made their comeback in the final frame. Denver looked stumped, and when the Warriors stopped without fouling, they went to the races with one of the league's deadliest transition offenses. Golden State had also been hammered on the boards, and Thompson said assistant coach Mike Brown challenged him to get on the glass. He finished with a team-high nine rebounds. When our defense is that deadlocked, our offense is easy," Thompson said after the game. "It was definitely a big talking point in the huddle, playing a great defense." The Warriors held the Nuggets to just six points in the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter, building a four-point lead with just over four minutes left . The ability to put on the staples defensively helped the Warriors save them Wednesday, and is the calling card of virtually every true championship contender in the NBA Golden State didn't really have to do that in the first four games of the series because their offense was so good produced, but they certainly needed defense to step up to close the nuggets in Game 5, Gary Payton II's defensive contributions were invaluable down the stretch. That's why Kerr chose to stay with him, as Poole stayed on the bench with five fouls for most of the fourth quarter. But we all know about Payton's defense — it's become part of every opponent's scouting report. Also, what usually gets on the scouting report is to sag Payton when he's behind the 3-point line, but he made the Nuggets pay on Wednesday by knocking down three of his four 3-point attempts, including one Coupling attempt to lengthen the Warriors. Lead to five with just over a minute left. I guess when you've bounced around like he has -- been in the G League, played on 10-day contracts, never really found a home -- there's a lot more pressure than playing in a high-stakes game ' Kerr said on Wednesday. From there it was up to Curry, the team closer on a night when Thompson and Poole both struggled to parry shots, to the basket which he more than readily accepted. He didn't make a 3- Pointer, but he went 5 for 6 from the free throw line and made two clutch layups in the final 1:33 of the game, the second of which essentially sealed the win. You can't move him anymore," Green said of Curry after the game. The game wasn't pretty, but when it came down to crucial time, Curry took what the defense gave him and found a way to lead his team to victory It's what it takes to eliminate a team from the playoffs, and it's what the Warriors will need as they continue their march toward the familiar ground of the NBA Finals."Tonight was just a weird feeling, because we haven't been there in a while and we wanted it so badly, we kind of made it a lot harder for ourselves," Curry said after the win.

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Everything you need to know about the Boston Celtics taking on the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs

The Boston Celtics, who have won 17 NBA championships, are next for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks. Get to know the Celtics here. (Author: Gardener)

the Boston CelticsThe Boston Celtics, a franchise that has won 17 NBA championships, will line up next for defending champions Milwaukee Bucks. Boston and Milwaukee both finished that season 51-31, with the Celtics earning the No. 2 seed and home field advantage over the No. 3 seed Milwaukee due to tiebreakers. Needless to say, the Celtics are playing good basketball at the moment, having defeated a Brooklyn Nets team that proved to be a tough first-round matchup for anyone (and a title contender in the eyes of many), as Brooklyn has the talent one star featured players Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and maybe even Ben Simmons, who was taken on mid-season. But Simmons never saw the bottom and the disappointing Nets failed to win even a game in the only round of the first round of the NBA Playoffs this year. It is the first time Durant has been swept in a playoff series and the first time Irving has been eliminated in the first round. Granted, the Celtics won the four games by just 18 points overall, but they still felt triumphant. Oddly enough, the Celtics had a poor record in close games during the regular season, but not as far this postseason. The Celtics cemented their reputation as the best defensive team in the league, led by league Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, but star Jayson Tatum excelled at limiting Durant to 38.6% shooting. In the last 32 games of the season, Boston beat teams and beat opponents by 14.8 points per 100 possessions. A team that was once 23-24 ended the year 28-7 and then started the postseason 4-0. It may have suffered under first-year coach Ime Udoka, but it's not as if Boston has just squeaked past in tight games. Big man Robert Williams returned to the court in the playoffs in late March after a four-week absence due to a meniscus injury. He only played 30 minutes in two games, but he was an important part of the Celtics' turnaround and numbers to see longer playing time, especially with the extended break after Boston's first-round series ended. At 2.2 blocked shots per game, he's averaging close to a double-double this year. Tatum has averaged nearly 30 points per game in the series with the Nets after averaging nearly 27 points in the regular season, and he has shot 42% from 3-point range in the playoffs so far. He just turned 24 in March and is playing the best basketball of his career, beating Durant for the latest feather in his cap. His buzzer-beater in Game 1 definitely put Boston on the right foot. Relying on Tatum and Brown's 1-2 smash, the Celtics offer a challenge on a Milwaukee defense that Khris Middleton won't have available to start (or maybe at any point) in the series. As successful as Boston has been, it's still only shooting 35.6% from three-point range (35.5% in the playoffs), which isn't terrible but is a few percentage points below some of the best teams in the league. It's also fair to note that Milwaukee will present challenges to the defense that Brooklyn didn't have. Smart became the first guard since Gary Payton with the Sonics in 1996 to win the league's Defensive Player of the Year award. He's a big reason the Celtics led the league in defensive rating and points-per-game allowable, but even more important in a protracted streak. He has the ability to irritate opponents. Former Marquette University star and Stevens Point native Sam Hauser, who did not play in the series against Brooklyn, comes off the bench. Boston was strictly sticking to its eight-man rotation (which expanded to nine after William's return), so it doesn't seem particularly likely that Hauser would play. The same goes for reserve center Luke Kornet, who briefly spent time with Milwaukee this year and is the son of former Bucks player Frank Kornet. The teams only met once after Christmas (before the reborn Celtics began their killing spree), and several players were absent from that April 7 meeting. Boston's biggest threat that night was point guard Dennis Schroeder, who is no longer on the team. Tatum scored 42 points in Boston and the Bucks suffered a rare loss with their Big Three of Antetokounmpo, Middleton and Jrue Holiday together on the court, though Middleton left with a hyperextended knee in the third quarter. In his first game after a five-game absence on health and safety protocol, Antetokounmpo scored 36 points and the Bucks roared back from 19 points and won at Christmas. Boston played understaffed, with enough players on health and safety protocol itself that it wasn't clear if the game would even be played. April 7: Milwaukee 127, Boston 121. That Milwaukee had to fight here is possibly a bad sign; The game was at home, Boston was in the second game of a back-to-back and didn't have Tatum, Williams or Al Horford. Ime Udoka, the first Nigerian-American head coach in NBA history, is in his first year coaching the Celtics and was hired by predecessor Brad Stevens, who left the sidelines to become the Celtics' basketball CEO. Udoka has been an assistant at San Antonio (2012-19), Philadelphia (2019-20) and Brooklyn over the past year, which became particularly notable when he faced his former team in the first round. None of his 10 teams have ever missed the playoffs. The 44-year-old, whose playing career spanned from 2003 to 2012 in the NBA and abroad, is engaged to actress Nia Long. When Milwaukee beat Boston in five games in the 2019 Eastern Conference semifinals, it was the Bucks' first trip to the conference finals since 2001. This Boston team also had younger versions of Brown and Tatum, as well as Horford, Williams, Theis and Smart. with the last three in smaller roles than they play now. Irving, the player recently sent home by the Celtics, played his last game in a Boston uniform of the series. In 2018, the seventh-ranked Bucks edged Boston in the opening round but fell 4-3. Boston sat out in 1987 (4-3 in conference semifinals), 1986 (4-0 in conference finals) and 1984 (4:1 in the conference finals) against Milwaukee after Milwaukee had defeated the Bucks in 1983 (conference semifinals). Boston also defeated the Bucks in a heartbreaking 4-3 series in the 1974 NBA Finals, a game remembered for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's buzzer-hitting Skyhook in Game 6. Overall, Boston leads 21-18 in the playoff games in Milwaukee. Subscribe to our Milwaukee Bucks newsletter for updates on the team. This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: What You Need to Know About the Boston Celtics Taking on the Bucks in the NBA Playoffs

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How Villarreal's low-key approach trapped them against Liverpool

Unai Emery's disruptive tactics tried to limit the goal but a 2-0 deficit means Villarreal can expect a momentous comeback in the second leg (Author: Gardener)

VillarrealAfter a night that has often been more of a nuisance than a challenge for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp made what amounted to an admission. "The way they organize themselves is a kind of lesson," said the Liverpool manager of Villarreal's extremely defensive approach. "It's like a very high level duel, who can go a little bit further than that." Klopp naturally insisted that Liverpool "can't respect Villarreal anymore", but even there there was a hint of a revelation. Basically, the German is no longer really confronted with this type of approach. Certainly not at this level. That semi-final first leg felt so out of place, especially in the general chaos of the Champions League these days. There's already Real Madrid's comeback against Paris-Saint-Germain, Liverpool's mayhem against Benfica, Real Madrid's entire draw against Chelsea, and Manchester City's rough final 10 minutes against Atletico Madrid that made the long preparation worth it. There was then the release of City-Real Madrid in that first semi-final. But now we're back to business and it was louder than ever... until Villarreal stepped onto the pitch against Liverpool. It was a far cry from the entertainment that has become almost routine at this level. Their eliminations of Juventus and Bayern Munich added to the drama of the competition, but it felt like they came from the shock of the final results rather than the games' entertainment. The emotions came primarily from the desperation of the bigger clubs against this determined defence, rather than anything Villarreal necessarily did. There is another aspect to this, as many similar runs throughout history have proved. It felt like there was an element of that against Liverpool as Villarreal only ever lasted when they hung around their own box. Yet the feeling that they hadn't pushed their own limits remained, as became a theme at Unai Emery's post-game press conference. There was slight regret, articulated by the manager himself, that they had not done more. "We played a game below our expectations, below my standards." That's sometimes the inevitable end product of a limited game plan, though. Aware of the 'power' of what could be perhaps the best attack in world football, Villarreal were clearly most important in restraining Klopp's team. It was like Atletico Madrid without the edge, instead just seven men on the outside of their box. Most of football history offers evidence of the obvious logic of this approach. To be fair, Emerys has had impressive success in Europe with both Sevilla and Villarreal. There's a reason it's long been dubbed 'small-team football'. It has long been considered the best way to disrupt the superior skills of a better team and increase your chances of stealing something. They limit in-game scoring, so a moment can be crucial. It's just that a lot of the evidence suggests that's not so logical in the modern game anymore. The proliferation of high pressing combined with superior sports science has almost made more math applied. It's becoming almost impossible to keep the biggest clubs out for long. That's exactly why so few coaches are trying to do that now, especially at the top level. Liverpool know that themselves, which is why this was such a different challenge. "You could play a middle block against them and not come out and it's a slow death." That's exactly what Villarreal had against Liverpool. It was all about keeping them in check and when the levy broke they had little else. Liverpool were sacked. Villarreal must now find a way to somehow bring the duel to life. We are here, in the semifinals and with a smile on our faces. There was a great game last night, Manchester City – Real Madrid… It's going to be a great night. They're 2-0 favourites, we know they're very strong and in great form but we'll do our own thing and see what we can do. We tried to play our own game but they wouldn't let us. It's a personal challenge, for the team, the club, let's see if we can turn it around and do better." If they do, judging by the evidence from the first leg, it will offer something to rival anything we have seen this season or earlier.

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Liverpool show their patience, perseverance and strength to reach the climax of the Champions League final

The Reds are one step away from returning to the European title match after enduring the Villarreal experience with a relentlessness that was ultimately rewarded. (Author: Gardener)

the Champions LeagueAfter all the goals and drama of Manchester City's 4-3 win over Real Madrid in the first leg of the opening Champions League semi-final on Tuesday, Liverpool's 2-0 win over Villarreal a day later perhaps felt a little disappointing. But a little rest is no bad thing and if this is, as it should be, a harbinger of a Champions League final, few of Red Convictions will worry. An all-round successful victory for a team that, after a small dent after the international break, is back at the top again. He has described this as the best squad he has ever worked with and there is a feeling that Liverpool's squad could surpass Man City's for the first time in well over a decade. But in big games in Europe, Klopp is more likely to opt for Ibrahima Konaté to partner with Virgil van Dijk at the heart of defence, while Luis Díaz acts on the left of the front three and Sadio Mané in the middle. It's a team that seems to have all kinds of goals: the well-known Klopp way in the transition phase; from Konaté's aerial threat; van Dijk and Fabinho from standard games; by the taut skills of Mohamed Salah; and the exact death of Thiago Alcântara. Liverpool needed all that diversity to break down a typically stubborn Villarreal. Dominating almost completely, his press meant Villarreal couldn't get out and run and ended up quite happy to slow the game down. Villarreal goalkeeper Gerónimo Rulli looked nervous but each of his unconvincing saves was safe. Liverpool had 12 shots at Villarreal's one but Emery's side persevered. The relentless attacks continued after the break. A Fabinho goal was ruled out after van Dijk headed the ball offside before finally breaking through after 53 minutes. Within two minutes, Liverpool had a second, Salah slipped through a clean pass for Mané to finish calmly. Given the club's rich history, this won't go down in history as one of Anfield's great nights, not even one of the great nights in recent memory - certainly not anywhere near the comeback win over Barcelona in 2019 - just, because it felt routine shouldn't detract from how impressive this was. Villarreal had held off against Juventus and Bayern Munich in the preliminary rounds but Liverpool's punches were relentless. While Bayern delivered cross after cross into the box, Liverpool were far more inventive. This was a victory based on relentless attack. Not for the first time in recent years, the physical difference between the Premier League and La Liga has been stark. Like Manchester City on Tuesday, Liverpool could feel they made more of it that they may have completed the tie in full. Passing Villarreal 19-1 (with no less than 73% possession) is a blast. But unlike Man City, Liverpool can be very confident that things will continue. It's not just that the lead is two goals, it's also extremely difficult to imagine how Villarreal could score three goals against Liverpool without conceding a goal. Emery's entire approach is to thwart the opponent and strike on the break; Once it comes out to follow the game in Spain, Liverpool should be able to thrive with the transitions they excel at. Liverpool probably needed a third to feel completely safe but after a wildly one-sided game, even against a Villarreal side who haven't lost at home since November, they should reach a third Champions League final in five years . The even better news is that if City's semi-finals get tougher, it could have implications for their Premier League title race.

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Liverpool dominated Villarreal but Klopp's side are aware that Champions League comebacks are possible

Liverpool have beaten Villarreal and are ready to book another Champions League final spot. But the Anfield side know very well that the work is not done yet. (Author: Gardener)

KloppLIVERPOOL, England - Don't be fooled by the narrow goal line. Liverpool's 2-0 win over Villarreal at Anfield was the most one-sided semi-final you're likely to see and could and should have been so much more for the six-time European champions. But a 2-0 lead could well be more than enough to keep Liverpool's dream of four major titles in one season alive. Unai Emery's side have 90 minutes left in next Tuesday's second leg to salvage that tie and reach the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, but it defies all logic and statistical evidence to believe that Losing to a seemingly unthinkable Villarreal, Liverpool will hit back. "It's 2-0 at half-time [in a draw]," said Jurgen Klopp. We have to be 100 per cent in the right mood and play the second leg the same as the first leg. This competition has certainly given us many notable returns over the past few years, including Liverpool overcoming a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona and winning the return 4-0. If Villarreal manage to eliminate Klopp's team at the Estadio de la Ceramica they will be in the same league of shocks as that unforgettable night at Anfield in May 2019. But Liverpool's failure to convert their dominance into a winning margin that ended the game reflects better means that last year's Europa League winners Villarreal still have a glimmer of hope in the second leg. The 'Yellow Submarine' has ended the European ambitions of Arsenal, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich in the last 12 months so Liverpool won't take them lightly, but that's why Klopp's side were so in charge in the first leg , was exactly that Liverpool did not underestimate Villarreal. Both Juventus and Bayern failed to spot Villarreal's threat on the counterattack and paid a heavy price, but Liverpool made no such mistake and their defensive focus was just as important as their attacking flair. By the end of the game, Liverpool had registered 20 shots on goal compared to Villarreal. According to official UEFA statistics, Liverpool had 93 attacks (Villarreal only managed 15) and completed 645 passes as opposed to 182 by Emery's team. In terms of possession, Liverpool had 68% over the 90 minutes. In the first half, the Spanish team delivered a master class at defusing the atmosphere, slowing down the game, wasting time and denying Liverpool the space to play at their usual breathtaking pace. Villarreal's approach frustrated the home side and reassured the crowd – an achievement in itself on a Champions League night at Anfield – but there was always a sense that if Liverpool continued to pour forward, the dam would burst. It was all about game management and patience, facilitated by the presence of Thiago Alcantara in Liverpool's midfield, with the former Barcelona and Bayern player ensuring no one in the red shirt panicked at Villarreal's attempts to stifle the game got. But when Fabinho ruled out a goal for offside in the 50th minute, it was clear Liverpool were ready to race through the aisles in search of an opening goal, which came three minutes later when Jordan Henderson's cross defeated goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, after being deflected towards goal by Pervis Estupinan. The goal brought relief and greater urgency and Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool's lead two minutes later when he pinned the ball under Rulli after being released by Mohamed Salah. Andy Robertson then ruled out an offside goal and Virgil van Dijk and Luis Diaz both came close to scoring, but Villarreal fought off defeat by just two goals. This Liverpool side are too good to give up a two-goal advantage in a Champions League semi-final, despite conceding seven goals in Liverpool's last two away semi-finals under Klopp in 2018 and 2019. While Premier League rivals Manchester City need to defend a one-goal lead against Real Madrid following Wednesday's 4-3 first-leg win at the Santiago Bernabeu, Liverpool's challenge is nothing more than routine. Klopp will remind his players of that night against Barcelona when nobody gave Liverpool a chance and urge them to beware of Villarreal staging their own miraculous comeback. "I looked at Villarreal and the way they are organized was a lesson for me," said Klopp. It's going to be difficult but the best way to deal with a 2-0 lead is to ignore it and start again from 0-0.” “[Liverpool] will suffer more than they did tonight at Villarreal,” said Emery after that Match That could turn out to be the case, but the reality is that Liverpool and their fans can start making plans for Paris.

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Champions League result, final standings and reaction as the Reds have one foot in the final

Follow the action and updates as Anfield host the Champions League semi-finals first leg (Author: Gardener)

Champions LeagueLiverpool continue their attack to an unprecedented quadruple as they host Villarreal in the Champions League semi-finals tonight. Having already won the Carabao Cup this season, the Reds are chasing European glory against a Spanish underdog side that are biting. The Europa League champions are seventh in La Liga this season but can be more than capable of causing a stir in cup competitions as Unai Emery's side have already knocked out Juventus and Bayern Munich from that tournament. For their part, Liverpool defeated Inter Milan and Benfica in the knockout rounds having previously won all six group stage games - a first feat for an English side in the Champions League. The ongoing Premier League title fight also means Jurgen Klopp faces more decisions about how best to rotate his side, particularly in attack, knowing Liverpool cannot afford to lose points at the losing their home front. It could well be that the Reds' greater attacking talent proves to be a crucial factor in those two legs, but that will depend in part on Klopp finding the right team to win on home soil after Liverpool have failed to beat any of their previous ones two Champions League opponents in the Anfield stage. Whichever team triumphs in this clash, they face Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final, with City going into the second leg with a slim advantage after winning 4-3 at the Etihad Stadium last night. Follow all the action from the Liverpool vs Villarreal clash here: * Winner plays either Man City or Real Madrid in the last 90 minutes: Two minutes of stoppage time to play at Anfield. 86 mins Striker Paco Alcacer comes on for Villarreal, replacing Arnaut Danjuma. It's Unai Emery's final roll of the dice to get anything out of this game. 83 mins: Joe Gomez and Divock Origi have chances of a run in the last 10 minutes as Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz are substituted on. 80 minutes: Luis Diaz is sent to the left side of the penalty area and carries the ball towards the goal. He's closed, but not before he can fire a shot that flies wide of the back post. 76 mins: Liverpool have just lost a touch and aren't pressing as hard as before. This allows Villarreal to fight for possession further up the pitch, which in turn leaves some space in the larger areas Liverpool haven't been able to use yet. 73 mins: There are a few changes from Jurgen Klopp as Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson are replaced by Diogo Jota and Naby Keita. 70 mins: Andy Robertson's inswinging corner goes out the near post and falls to Alexander-Arnold, who flicks it back into the box. Rulli comes out to clear it but Diaz smacks him to the ball. He gets pushed wide and decides to drag it back to the center of the box where Raul Albiol shoots it away. Virgil van Dijk receives the ball miles from goal and is encouraged to shoot but the Liverpool crowd. There must have been some variation in the effort as Rulli messes up almost everything but manages to bat it away. Trent Alexander-Arnold has dropped a little lower this half and sees a lot more of the ball in space to act. This time he flicks a cross into the box for the first time and finds Andy Robertson near the far post. Robertson turns the ball into the net but is flagged for offside. 59 min: Mo Salah drives into the box from the right and finds Pau Torres. 55 minutes: It's a different game now! Two goals in two minutes give Liverpool daylight in the semi-finals. Salah brings the ball inside and passes it to Mane, who hits it back to Henderson. Henderson passes to Alexander-Arnold on the inside right, who threads the ball back to Salah. Salah shoves it into the box, Mane keeps to the side before getting the ball first and poking it past Rulli to double Liverpool's lead! 53 minutes: Liverpool make the breakthrough! Sadio Mane brings the ball along the front edge of the box and puts it down to Jordan Henderson. He passes it to Mo Salah and makes an overlapping run down the right flank. Salah slides the ball back to him and his cross hits Estupinan and deflects over Rulli's head to nestle in the back of the net! Alexander-Arnold pushes the ball to Mane on the edge of the penalty area, but he doesn't get any further. Instead, he rolls back to the right-back, who rolls the ball into the box and finds Luis Diaz. 51 minutes: Unrecognized goal! 51 minutes: Unrecognized goal! Liverpool finally get the ball in the net but it doesn't count. Alexander-Arnold swings a corner into the penalty area and finds Mane, who nods Van Dijk into the six-yard box. He heads it to Fabinho, who converts it into goal only to see the offside flag go up. 48 mins: Estupinan receives a yellow card for Villarreal after tripping Mo Salah on the right edge of the away box. The free kick swings in but Raul Albiol is there to head it away. Kick-off: Villarreal resume play. Of Liverpool's 54 games this season, they have failed to score in just four of them. Mo Salah sends an early ball into the box and Pau Torres tries to deal with it with a short header. He only manages to lead the ball back into his own goal, luckily Geronimo Rulli sticks to it. Will Jurgen Klopp make changes to destroy Villarreal? Will Unai Emery's side push themselves further or will they settle for a draw at Anfield? Frustrating 45 minutes for Liverpool. 45+1 min.: Nothing separates the teams during the break. It was difficult for Liverpool who couldn't break Villarreal's solid defence. In truth, the visitors haven't offered much and Liverpool will believe a goal or two in the second half could give them a foothold in the Champions League final. 42 mins: On a rare attack from the visitors, they work the ball towards Samuel Chukwueze, who sprints into the empty space left by Alexander-Arnold. Ibrahima Konate rushes over to steal the ball from the winger and launch the attack just before the real start. Thiago then goes forward for Liverpool and blasts a shot from distance that hits Rulli and rattles against the frame of the goal. 39 minutes: Diaz can't find a way into the penalty area from the left, so brings the ball inside and puts it to Konate. Konate chips the ball into the box and Rulli confidently comes off his line to hit the ball. For Liverpool there is no way through Villarreal. Luis Diaz feeds Sadio Mane right in the "D" on the edge of Villarreal's box. Mane takes a touch to control the ball and then shoots on the turn. He scores well, but Raul Albiol's leg catches the ball and deflects it past the left post. 33 min: How can Villarreal continue to defend like this? Mo Salah gets the ball wide and shoots into the box before rolling a pass into the five yards. Sadio Mane arrives, but Raul Albiol precedes him and eliminates the danger. 30 mins: Trent Alexander-Arnold is brought down just outside the Villarreal penalty area and wins a shooting range free-kick for Liverpool. Sadio Mane controls the ball in the penalty area and puts it well on Mo Salah. He runs on from his position on the right side and steers a flick with his left foot just over the bar! This is Salah's first goal and he wasn't very happy with his own performance. 24 mins: Another corner for Liverpool after Alexander-Arnold's cross was deflected off Francis Coquelin. The Liverpool right-back lashes the ball in the middle but Coquelin goes down under pressure from Sadio Mane and the game is stopped. 21 minutes: Thiago puts the ball in the left inner channel and tries to thread a pass into the penalty area. Dani Parejo makes a save and it screams handball loudly, but he didn't know much about it and the referee continues to play. Liverpool return with Jordan Henderson coming forward on the right wing without the ball. Thiago levitates at him with a diagonal pass, which the Liverpool captain volleys in and shoots a sidefoot shot into the near post! 17 mins: Jordan Henderson pushes the pitch up and tackles Pervis Estupinan, who knocks the ball wide from the Villarreal defender. The assistant referee signals the guests for a throw-in and Henderson is not happy with the decision. 14 mins: Liverpool ramp up the pressure on Villarreal as Pervis Estupinan is pushed deep into his own half. His clearance comes to Andy Robertson, who hisses it back into the box and wins a corner for the Reds. A Villarreal throw-in is won by Trent Alexander-Arnold, who waves to Jordan Henderson. He flicks the ball to Sadio Mane, who passes it wide to Mo Salah before running into the box. Salah brings the ball down down the right wing, cutting inside and floating a cross into the box which Mane selects perfectly. Mane keeps to the side but botches his header chance and saves it wide. 8 minutes: Opportunity! 8 minutes: Opportunity! Liverpool wins a corner which Andy Robertson swings into the center of the box. Ibrahima Konate jumps above everyone else and nods the ball to Sadio Mane. The ball hits Mane's right leg and rolls away from the striker before he can turn it on target. 6 mins: Thiago Alcantara shoots a long diagonal ball at Mo Salah, who plays the striker into the right side of the box. Salah sprints into the box and tries to knock the ball down with his first touch, but it rolls away and goes wide for a goal kick. 3 mins: Andy Robertson moves up on the left for Liverpool and plays a brace with Luis Diaz to sneak behind Villarreal right-back. Liverpool start the game and pass the ball back to Ibrahima Konate, who shoots it down the left wing. It's hardly hard to find signs of Liverpool's transformation during Jurgen Klopp's years. There's the shiny new training ground and Anfield's huge main stand, which can be seen across much of the Liverpool skyline, with the German speaking. And yet, when Liverpool booked their place in next season's Champions League, Klopp failed to take notice. How will Liverpool do tonight? Unai Emery led the Yellow Submarine to Europa League glory last season, which was Villarreal's first major honor and the fourth time he's got his hands on the famous trophy himself, having won it in three consecutive seasons with Sevilla had raised. Can he add a UEFA Champions League winners' medal to his growing collection? While Jurgen Klopp talks about needing "the atmosphere" of Liverpool's last Champions League semi-final, that famous night against Barcelona in 2019, the opposition are enjoying an excitement unique to Villarreal. That's what the Champions League should really be about, about the feeling of something very special and not about routine. The high probability is that if Liverpool don't blow away Villarreal they will be drawn into a methodical tactical matrix. It could well be a drawn-out game, a far cry from the raging drama of recent Champions League semi-finals. That's what Unai Emery does, and does it so well, to the frustration of so many European opponents. Klopp knows him well from the 2016 Europa League final against Sevilla. Dragging Liverpool into a game of chess is Villarreal's key to victory. A win for Jurgen Klopp's side will see them equal the club record of 43 wins in a season set in 2019-20 (including wins on penalties). Villarreal have won four of their last five away games in European competition. They have met English sides 21 times, winning six, drawing seven and losing eight. Alisson Becker has played every minute of Liverpool's European campaign so far this season. Ibrahima Konate could become the first Liverpool defender in history to score in three consecutive European Cup games. In the home game against Benfica earlier this month, he became just the fourth Reds ever to score his first two goals for the club in European competition. Villarreal manager Unai Emery admits the upset in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Liverpool at Anfield was lost. Few expected the seventh-placed LaLiga side to edge past Juventus and Bayern Munich in the knockout stages to finish in the last four. Emery admits the chances Liverpool don't take them seriously are slim, but he's hoping to ride the wave of success that began with last season's Europa League win. Liverpool have only lost two semi-finals in the Champions League - in 1965 against Internazionale and in 2008 against Chelsea. The Reds have lost just one European semi-final at Anfield - to Leeds United in the 1971 Fairs Cup - with 15 wins and three draws the other 18. Jurgen Klopp said that quadruple chasers Liverpool's focus was solely on the Champions League semi-finals and Villarreal: "We don't have to talk about other competitions today because our focus is on Villarreal and the semi-finals. It's crazy." , a massive game.” So many coaches and players work their entire lives off the hook and never get a chance to get that close. Jurgen Klopp's side have won eight of their ten Champions League games this season. Liverpool have now reached their 12th European Cup semi-final, equaling the British record. The Reds were in the final nine of those twelve times. Jordan Henderson spoke about the 2016 Europa League final loss to Unai Emerys Sevilla in the first season of Jurgen Klopp in charge of Liverpool. Henderson sat on the bench that night and explained what it felt like to lose that final. "That night is always special for me because after the game all the guys when they came back to the hotel were disappointed and all you wanted to do was go to your room and put your head down," he said. I got a feeling he knew this was the start of something special. "It was very hard to believe after just losing a final but I always felt he knew what was in store for him in the years to come. The first time Jurgen Klopp faced Unai Emery, it was a chastising experience for the German.The two men meet again tonight when Liverpool host Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final at Anfield.The Merseyside club are favorites to reach the final in Paris but Klopp's experience in another top European game will make him six years ago was the last game of Klopp's first season at Anfield six years ago was the last game of Klopp's first season at Anfield Any chance of finishing top in the Premier League Coming four dwindled in the final month of the season as Liverpool stumbled to eighth. That belief seemed justified when Daniel Sturridge scored a superb goal to put Liverpool off zen in the break in front. But the second half was arguably Klopp's low point as a Liverpool manager. Jurgen Klopp knows better than to underestimate Unai Emery. The Reds have arrived at Anfield. This is the second time the two clubs have met in European competition - the first time in the 2016 Europa League semi-finals when Liverpool won 3-1 on aggregate. Liverpool lost the final in Basel 3-1 to a Sevilla side managed by current Villarreal head coach Unai Emery. Four players from the 18-man squad remain at Anfield for the night - Roberto Firmino, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Divock Origi. Jurgen Klopp says he will underestimate Villarreal despite Liverpool coming into this semi-final as heavy favorites to reach the final. They are made for competition, their line-up is really good," said the German. "There may have been a small advantage in the last two games where Juventus or maybe Bayern Munich underestimated them - but it never will, especially after Nothing happened to us in these four games. "They're a really good football team who obviously want to be a part of the final, but for us it's just as important." Villarreal's Etienne Capoue says Anfield will be 'hell' when his club take on Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Wednesday night. He said the ground was terrible for the away teams and the fans would create a difficult atmosphere throughout the game. It's hell," Capoue said, per AFP. Whether it's the atmosphere, the way they play... Villarreal have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time since the 2005/06 season when they lost 1-0 on aggregate to Arsenal – with the only goal by Kolo Touré thing that separated the sides. This is only the second time Villarreal have reached the semi-finals of the Champions League, while Liverpool have reached that stage of the competition for their 12th time overall - and their third in five seasons. Liverpool have progressed to nine of their last ten Champions League semi-finals – the exception being a 4-3 aggregate defeat by Chelsea in 2007/08. Jurgen Klopp makes three changes to Liverpool's line-up who faced Everton last time out. Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Diogo Jota are out, while Ibrahima Konate, Jordan Henderson and Luis Diaz are new. There are also three changes for Villarreal from Unai Emery. The away fans are ready for Anfield. Unai Emery has guided Villarreal to historic heights after lifting the Europa League in the club's first European trophy last season. He's on the verge of more history if the club get past Liverpool in this two-legged semi-final. Speaking on what it means to be a part of Villarreal at this point, he said: "This is a long-term project that demonstrates the credibility and stability of a top-flight club, one that plays in Europe and has won a trophy. Earn respect. Villarreal manager Unai Emery spoke about what it's like to play against Liverpool. "Any team that's in a Champions League semi-final is there because they deserve it." He said: "Liverpool know we have a great European presence, that we're eliminating two great teams [with Juventus and Bayern]. could. This is the best Liverpool team I've ever seen. I see that as extra motivation: trying to beat the best Liverpool ever." Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has said what the team has achieved so far under manager Jurgen Klopp is "very special" but that it "A long way to go" is when it comes to winning quadruple. "I know how quickly football can change." He said: "People talk about the things that we can win but we know that [if we] have a couple of bad games it can all be over see where we are at the end of the season.” Sadio Mane has spoken about how Liverpool have supported their Muslim players throughout Ramadan. Mane says this is difficult as a footballer due to the demands of training and the different kick-off times on matchdays. But he said the players spoke to senior people at the club before the club started on April 1. "It's not easy because playing and training and Ramadan is not easy at all," he told beIN Sports Sadio Mane reveals how Liverpool help Muslim players during Ramadan Jurgen Klopp said it was "special" for Liverpool to focus on set up a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal as they continue to battle on three fronts hoping to win the quadruple this year for the third time in five seasons Klopp has led Liverpool to the last four of elite European competition and Klopp would like that its players enjoy the opportunity. "Every game should feel like a final," he said, "it's very special to be part of the semi-finals, it's crazy. It's a massive game "I don't have a chance to be close to a semi-final. Jurgen Klopp says Roberto Firmino is unlikely to feature in tonight's Champions League semi-final as the striker continues to recover from a foot problem. "I Don't think [he's ready] yet," Klopp told Liverpoolfc.com on Tuesday. Roberto Firmino has missed Liverpool's last two games with a foot injury and is expected to miss tonight's semi-final game, although he is getting closer to returning to full training "There are no further injury worries for Liverpool. At Villarreal, Yeremy Pino has been ruled out through injury and striker Gerard Moreno is being monitored while he recovers from a hamstring problem. Former Liverpool left-back Alberto Moreno is unavailable after torn cruciate ligament in early March but Francisco Coquelin has been training normally and could be a part. Welcome to The Independent's coverage of Liverpool's Champions League semi-final first leg against Villarreal Tonight's clash takes place at Anfield and Jurgen Klopp's men will hope to gain an advantage in this clash Liverpool haven't won at home against their last two Champions League opponents but are still the favorites advancing from that semi-final.To reach this stage, the Reds beat Inter Milan and Benfica in the knockout rounds, while Unai Emerys defeated Villarreal Juventus and Bayern Munich.This is the third time in five seasons that Klopp Liverpool have placed in the last four of Europe's elite competitions and the Reds continue to battle to win the quadruple in those r season after winning the Carabao Cup, reaching the FA Cup final and taking just one point from top of the Premier League. If they get past Villarreal, they will face either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the Champions League final.

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Liverpool dominated Villarreal but Klopp's side are aware that Champions League comebacks are possible

Liverpool have beaten Villarreal and are ready to book another Champions League final spot. But the Anfield side know very well that the work is not done yet. (Author: Gardener)

KloppLIVERPOOL, England - Don't be fooled by the narrow goal line. Liverpool's 2-0 win over Villarreal at Anfield was the most one-sided semi-final you're likely to see and could and should have been so much more for the six-time European champions. But a 2-0 lead could well be more than enough to keep Liverpool's dream of four major titles in one season alive. Unai Emery's side have 90 minutes left in next Tuesday's second leg to salvage that tie and reach the Champions League final in Paris on May 28, but it defies all logic and statistical evidence to believe that Losing to a seemingly unthinkable Villarreal, Liverpool will hit back. "It's 2-0 at half-time [in a draw]," said Jurgen Klopp. We have to be 100 per cent in the right mood and play the second leg the same as the first leg. This competition has certainly given us many notable returns over the past few years, including Liverpool overcoming a 3-0 deficit against Barcelona and winning the return 4-0. If Villarreal manage to eliminate Klopp's team at the Estadio de la Ceramica they will be in the same league of shocks as that unforgettable night at Anfield in May 2019. But Liverpool's failure to convert their dominance into a winning margin that ended the game reflects better means that last year's Europa League winners Villarreal still have a glimmer of hope in the second leg. The 'Yellow Submarine' has ended the European ambitions of Arsenal, Manchester United, Juventus and Bayern Munich in the last 12 months so Liverpool won't take them lightly, but that's why Klopp's side were so in charge in the first leg , was exactly that Liverpool did not underestimate Villarreal. Both Juventus and Bayern failed to spot Villarreal's threat on the counterattack and paid a heavy price, but Liverpool made no such mistake and their defensive focus was just as important as their attacking flair. By the end of the game, Liverpool had registered 20 shots on goal compared to Villarreal. According to official UEFA statistics, Liverpool had 93 attacks (Villarreal only managed 15) and completed 645 passes as opposed to 182 by Emery's team. In terms of possession, Liverpool had 68% over the 90 minutes. In the first half, the Spanish team delivered a master class at defusing the atmosphere, slowing down the game, wasting time and denying Liverpool the space to play at their usual breathtaking pace. Villarreal's approach frustrated the home side and reassured the crowd – an achievement in itself on a Champions League night at Anfield – but there was always a sense that if Liverpool continued to pour forward, the dam would burst. It was all about game management and patience, facilitated by the presence of Thiago Alcantara in Liverpool's midfield, with the former Barcelona and Bayern player ensuring no one in the red shirt panicked at Villarreal's attempts to stifle the game got. But when Fabinho ruled out a goal for offside in the 50th minute, it was clear Liverpool were ready to race through the aisles in search of an opening goal, which came three minutes later when Jordan Henderson's cross defeated goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, after being deflected towards goal by Pervis Estupinan. The goal brought relief and greater urgency and Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool's lead two minutes later when he pinned the ball under Rulli after being released by Mohamed Salah. Andy Robertson then ruled out an offside goal and Virgil van Dijk and Luis Diaz both came close to scoring, but Villarreal fought off defeat by just two goals. This Liverpool side are too good to give up a two-goal advantage in a Champions League semi-final, despite conceding seven goals in Liverpool's last two away semi-finals under Klopp in 2018 and 2019. While Premier League rivals Manchester City need to defend a one-goal lead against Real Madrid following Wednesday's 4-3 first-leg win at the Santiago Bernabeu, Liverpool's challenge is nothing more than routine. Klopp will remind his players of that night against Barcelona when nobody gave Liverpool a chance and urge them to beware of Villarreal staging their own miraculous comeback. "I looked at Villarreal and the way they are organized was a lesson for me," said Klopp. It's going to be difficult but the best way to deal with a 2-0 lead is to ignore it and start again from 0-0.” “[Liverpool] will suffer more than they did tonight at Villarreal,” said Emery after that Match That could turn out to be the case, but the reality is that Liverpool and their fans can start making plans for Paris.

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Liverpool quadruple pursuit may become 'immortal'

Liverpool advance to eight games of 'immortality' with their Champions League win over Villarreal, so can they do it? (Author: Gardener)

LiverpoolThe only downside for the Reds was that they should have won by a bigger margin in an absolutely convincing performance. The winners meet either Liverpool's Premier League title rivals Manchester City or designated La Liga champions Real Madrid in the final. So can the Reds really win all four trophies, what did boss Jurgen Klopp think of the win and do Villarreal have a chance at home next week? Manchester United, Barcelona, ​​Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Celtic, Ajax and PSV have all won the treble of European Cup, league title and domestic cup. But Liverpool - who have already won the Carabao Cup - are still in the running for an unprecedented quadruple. "That has to be the goal," former England defender Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport. “You will set the goal. If they achieve it, they are immortal, they rank above anyone who has played the game in this country.” Whether they can achieve it remains to be seen. But at the moment they are ticking the boxes along the way -Reds defender Luis Enrique said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "You can win all four trophies. It's almost impossible, but you have that 1% chance. I've never seen a Liverpool squad like this - the players also look like they think they're a fantastic team, they feel the moment and seize it. "That's why they're chasing four trophies, because they're experienced enough to know when to do it." BBC senior football reporter Ian Dennis said: "Liverpool have eight games in 31 days and every single one of them is a cup final. Liverpool boss Klopp said: "It was a brilliant game. I really liked the first half.” In the second half we finished the situation superbly. We wanted to score a third goal but from that moment it made sense that we controlled the game and we did that. You show respect to your opponent by defending them.” Liverpool have scored 135 goals in all competitions this season. The only defeat in 2022 was in the Champions League round of 16 second leg against Inter Milan. Ferdinand said: "This is the best Liverpool team I've ever seen. It's the way they push teams, the energy, the commitment, the commitment, you marvel at it. This is the best I've ever seen. "Liverpool are going again. This is a Champions League semi-final and they are hiring players like they are resting players. It should be a blueprint for other clubs like Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United." The Reds won the English title in 2019/20 after a 30-year wait, having previously come close in 2013/14. Owen said: "We should give credit to Brendan Rodgers (former Liverpool manager). I didn't think I'd ever see a trio like Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez up front. "It's dreamland for Liverpool fans . The last 10 years have been a dream. It's Liverpool's turn in the cycle. Inevitably, other teams will come back.” “Villarreal just caught a pulse,” said Owen. "If Liverpool stole another one it would have been game, set, game. "When Villarreal score an early goal in Spain, you never know." Only twice has a team lost the first leg of a European Cup semi-final 2-0 to progress - Hamburg v Real Madrid in 1979/80 and Roma v Dundee United in 1983/84. The Reds have never been eliminated after a 2-0 home win in the first leg in Europe. But they have conceded at least three goals in each of their last three Champions League semi-finals. Villarreal manager Unai Emery said his team will play differently next week after having just one shot - a joint record low for a Champions League semi-final. He said: "It's not a good result but we'll try to dream and do something different at home." Next week's game will be very different from tonight's. You will suffer more than tonight. "For me it's the best example of the 2-0 at half-time. You have to be vigilant and play the second like the first.

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Champions League Semi-Finals 1st Leg - Live Reaction!

Minute by the minute: Liverpool maintained their unyielding form in the Champions League semi-final first leg against the conquerors Bayern (Author: Gardener)

Champions League Semi-Finals 1stBy continuing to browse this site, you agree to this use. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience. Minute by the minute: Liverpool maintained their unyielding form in the Champions League semi-final first leg against the conquerors Bayern. Pau Torres speaks: "We feel like we've been punished for our only mistakes," said the Villarreal defender. In our planning we raised the idea that they could continue, but our plan was a bit like Munich – stay comfortable, get by. It's all over at Anfield where, despite a frustrating first half, Liverpool ended up producing comfortable winners. A Pervis Estupinan own goal after diligent work from Jordan Henderson broke the deadlock, while Sadio Mane struck from close range just two minutes later. Liverpool are in the box seat at half-time in this semi-final game, but Villarreal aren't quite out yet. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp hugs player of the match Thiago Alcantara after the final whistle. A young fan hugs Virgil van Dijk after the final whistle. Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Photo: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Our chief football correspondent, David Hytner, was at Anfield to see Liverpool dominating their Spanish visitors and building a healthy two-goal lead ahead of the second leg. Sadio Mane doubles Liverpool's lead and scores second in two minutes. He runs to a weighted short pass from Salah and stabs home, but was he offside? Sadio Mane puts the ball in the net. A cross from Jordan Henderson from the right is deflected badly, flicking over Rulli's outstretched hand and into the Villarreal goal. Liverpool's Jordan Henderson cross is deflected off Villarreal's Pervis Estupinan and goes past Villarreal keeper Geronimo Rulli. All eyes are on the ball going into the net. Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson is congratulated by his team-mates. Andy Robertson speaks: "We had a couple of chances in the first half and tried to break them up," he tells BT. We would have wished for one more thing, but one goal and two goals, we can't deny that. "It's the semifinals of the Champions League. If you can't run around in this type of game for 90 minutes, then when can you? There's still a lot to do, but we're happy." Jordan Henderson speaks: "They're a very organized team and we knew they were going to make it difficult," he tells BT Sport. We did that with two good goals. But you need a bit of luck when a team is playing with a low block. But the game is still alive and it's going to be tough in Villarreal.” 57 min: No, he wasn't. Mane's goal survives a VAR check from Tomasz Kwiatkowski and Liverpool are two goals for good. They're such a good side @LFC they make tricky encounters look pretty straightforward.— Gary Lineker 💙💛 (@GaryLineker) 27th April 2022 82 mins: Liverpool continue to dominate as their goalkeeper Alisson gets a rare touch from a back -happen. He was a spectator tonight - there are several Anfield ballboys who have touched the ball more times than he has tonight. Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker watches the action in the first half. Photo: Ian Stephen/ProSports/Shutterstock 78 mins: Also decidedly unimpressed: Sadio Mane as he walked off to be replaced by Diogo Jota. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp gives Sadio Mane a warm hug as he is substituted off. Photo: Soccrates Images/Getty Images 90+2 mins: Villarreal win a free-kick after a seemingly harmless foul by Fabinho on Serge Aurier. The ball swung in from the left and Liverpool clear. 90+1 min: Raul Albiol messes up a defensive header as he comes under a ball from deep, but recovers in time to prevent Divock Origi from capitalizing. 89 min: After a frustrating first half, Liverpool have calmed their nerves with a quick brace but have so far been unable to extend the tie beyond a Villarreal side who have offered little or nothing up front. It's hard to imagine they'll do much better on their own field, but given Liverpool's superiority, they'll be delighted to walk away two goals down. If they walk away with a two-goal deficit. 87 mins: Boulaye Dia grabs a ball from deep and shoots straight at Alisson. 85 min: Villarreal change: Paco Alcacer replaces Arnaud Danjuma, who has hardly any contact with the ball. 65 minutes: At the far post and volleying, Andy Robertson shoots home a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold from the right with his side feet. Liverpool's Andrew Robertson shoots home from an offside position to keep it 2-0. Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images/Reuters Photo: Carl Recine/Action Images/Reuters 80 mins: Luis Diaz rolls an inviting cross across the Villarreal box but there's no one there to convert it. Liverpool's double substitution: Joe Gomez and Divock Origi for Trent Alexander-Arnold and Luis Diaz. 77 min: While I was dealing with that manpower management, Villarreal won a corner and squandered it completely. 75 minutes: Villarreal substitution, which I may have overlooked earlier: Alfonso Pepraza for Francois Coquelin. 73 minutes: Villarreal make a three-point substitution: Boulaye Dia, Serge Aurier and Manu Trigueros for Pervis Estupinan, Dani Parejo and Samuel Chukwueze. 72 min: Liverpool double substitution: Sadio Mane and Jordan Henderson out, Diogo Jota and Naby Keita in. 71 minutes: Rulli flaps after a cross and Luis Diaz tries to hit the ball over the goal. 70 min: Estupinan concedes a corner, Liverpool continues to turn the screw. 68 min: Liverpool are widely used. Luis Diaz circles a low, deflected shot just off the post just after Rulli saved a long-range shot from Virgil van Dijk, who appeared to swerve in different directions as he approached him. 66 mins: Albiol anticipates and slices a Salah backheel in the path of Trent Alexander-Arnold as the Liverpool right-back marauded into the Villarreal box after connecting with his team-mate and galloping forward in anticipation of the back pass. 63 mins: Replays and a freeze frame show Mane managed to keep a mustache on his side as he ran into a beautifully weighted short pass from Mo Salah in the Villarreal box before knocking Liverpool's second home. 61 mins: Villarreal are on the ropes and in total panic as the tie threatens to detach completely from them. Gio Lo Celso is cautioned for fouling Andy Robertson. 60 min: Salah dribbles into the Villarreal box and goes down, apparently the victim of a clothesline by Juan Foyth. No penalty despite loud appeals from Liverpool players and fans. Gallery: Best matches in UEFA Champions League history (Espresso) 58 mins: Henderson has played an ineffective game by his own high standards, but he has helped propel his side forward. His attempted cross was deflected violently by Pervis Estupinan, skimming over Rulli and into the Villarrealk goal. It was ruled an Estupinan own goal but it has to be said that a line of Liverpool players were waiting to convert the cross if the Ecuadorian hadn't stretched his leg. 52 min: Alexander-Arnold flicks a nice ball into Villarreal's penalty area for Luis Diaz from a central position. 50 mins: Fabinho hacks the ball home from seven yards at a Liverpool corner but his 'goal' is ruled out for offside. Virgil van Dijk was offside in the build-up when Sadio Mane headed the outside swinger back into the mixer. 48 min: Villarreal left-back Pervis Estupinan is cautioned for a foul on Salah near the edge of Villarreal's penalty area. Nothing comes of the free kick, but Liverpool keep pushing. 46 mins: Mo Salah fires a cross into Villarreal's box and Pau Torres, Villarreal centre-back, hits with his head. Luckily for him, Geronimo Rulli was there to catch his accidentally goal-bound 'effort'. 46 min: The game continues with no personnel changes on either side. Thiago Alcantara hits the left post with a long-range shot. Liverpool's Thiago shoots from long range... Photo: Jon Super/AP 27 mins: Pau Torres goes down after sending a ball in the face from a Trent Alexander-Aarnold free-kick. Villarreal's Pau Torres takes on one for the team. Our Polish referee Szymon Marciniak ended an extremely poor first half. Liverpool have dominated throughout but Villarreal's defense has been nothing but tenacious. The Spaniards frustrated their hosts, who lacked penetrating power or a killer pass in the last third. 45+1 min: Villarreal enjoys a rare outing from within their own half but it doesn't last long. 35 min: Alexander-Arnold from the sidelines for the first time a Robertson ball from deep over the Villarreal penalty area. Salah comes to the end of his cross but directs it far. Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold's first cross eludes Villarreal's Pervis Estupinan... 41 min: Mane overplays a short pass to Luis Diaz on the edge of Villarreal's box. Juan Foyth slips in to steal the ball with a perfectly timed, if slightly risky, tackle. 39 min: Luis Diaz is penalized by Villarreal after a foul on Dani Parejo near the edge of the penalty area. The visitors are making this game as grueling as possible for Liverpool and the locals in the stands are getting audibly restless. 36 minutes: With Villarreal on a rare attack, Dani Parejo tries to find Lo Celso with a ball from the touchline. His target gets a touch of the ball but is on the track and unable to control it. 34 min: A Salah volleyball is blocked by a lunge from Giovani Lo Celso. It's a Liverpool corner that Villarreal makes clear. 33 min: Liverpool keep pounding on the Villarreal goal. A Mane shot is deflected past Rulli by Raul Albiol, but drifts just wide of the post. 32 min: Villarreal goalkeeper Rulli saves a shot into no man's land but gets away, then Virgil van Dijk is cautioned for a body check to Samuel Chukwueze. 31 min: Liverpool attack right again with ALexander-Arnold and Salah connecting well. Salah tries to pick out a Mane run but Pau Torres intercepts and clears. 20 mins: With almost a quarter of this game over, it's fair to say that in terms of excitement or entertainment it's not a repeat of last night's game between Manchester City and Real Madrid. Both teams will be happy with how things have gone so far, but Liverpool are at the top. Villarreal manager Unai Emery (right) and his Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp both claim a throw-in. Photo: John Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images The Liverpool team: Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp makes three changes to the side that beat Everton for tonight's game on Sunday. Ibrahima Konate replaces Joel Matip in central defence, Jordan Henderson comes in for Naby Keita in midfield and Luis Diaz starts in front of Diogo Jota. Liverpool fans cheer the arrival of the Liverpool team bus. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian Photo : Tom Jenkins/The Guardian 27 mins: Mo Salah curls a left-footed try up and down a bit after being teed up by Mane. 25 min: A heavy touch from Luis Diaz, who was trying to pick Trent Alexander-Arnold near the touchline, slips wide. Villarreal kick off. 14 min: Luis Diaz tries to circle a shot home from outside the Villarreal box. Geronimo Rulli blocks him but can't hold him down but catches him on the second try. Villarreal's Pau Torres shields the ball from Liverpool's Sadio Mane while his goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli lunges for it. 24 min: Coquelin blocks an attempted cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold and takes the ball to the corner. 23 mins: Thiago snaps out Henderson near the touchline and his low cross shot from a very tight angle goes into the side netting. In the Villarreal goal, Rulli had covered any danger at his near post as he flicked the ball wide. 12 minutes: Mane hits Villarreal's offside trap to run into a Salah cross from the right. Liverpool's Sadio Mane manages to get the ball up with his head but fails to deflect it on goal. Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters Photo: Phil Noble/Reuters 18 mins: Arnaud Danjuma receives the ball midway into the Liverpool half and tries to play it right to Samuel Chukwueze. 16 min: Robertson's inswinger is headed clear by Raul Albiol on the edge of the six-yard box. 15 min: Liverpool are coming strong but Villarreal are holding on. 11 mins: Villarreal wins the first corner of the game but the delivery fails to clear the first man. Liverpool clear. 7 min: A header from Ibrahima Konate lands at the feet of Sadio Mane just in front of Villarreal's six-yard box. Not for long: With the players ready to exit the tunnel and a tenth of the city of Villarreal's population mingling with the locals on Anfield Road, 'You'll Never Walk Alone' blares across the PA. Liverpool fans cheer for their team. 5 min: Andy Robertson tries to head a cross-field pass from Thiago over the face of the Villarreal goal. 3 mins: A sharp pass from deep by Thiago Alcantara to Mo Salah is a little too difficult and bounces wide of the Villarreal goal. 2 min: Andy Robertson and Virgil van Dijk exchange several passes in quick succession, the former well down the left touchline and his Dutch team-mate about 10 yards inside the Villarreal half in the center of the pitch. 1 min: Liverpool gets the ball rolling on a balmy spring evening on Merseyside. They attack the Kop in the first half after being forced into a change of sides by their draw-winning guests. Timely reminder that Villarreal has subsidized half of its fans' travel/match ticket costs - a total of €300 per fan. Season ticket holders of the club can buy a ticket for the home game from as little as €10. Photo: Jan Kruger/UEFA/Getty Images Polish referee Szymon Marciniak officiates the top night game at Anfield. Photo: Kieran McManus/REX/Shutterstock In the latest episode of our award-winning podcast, Max Rushden and guests including Nicky Bandini and Sid Lowe dig into the bones of last night's epic ding-dong at Etihad Stadium and entertain tonight's game at Anfield Catch up with Calum Jacobs on his excellent new anthology, A New Formation: How Black Footballers Shaped The Modern Game. And if you like what you're hearing, we're touring the UK and Ireland this summer, so why not come and see us somewhere near you (or very far away)? Related: Henderson, Emery and Night at a Bar Containing Klopp's New Liverpool | Andy Hunter Roberto Firmino is Liverpool's only injury problem as the Brazilian striker has missed Liverpool's last two Premier League games with a foot injury. While nothing serious, tonight's game is expected to come a bit early for him. "I don't think he's ready yet," the Liverpool manager told the club's website. "He runs outside and of course that's good, but I'm not sure. Villarreal are likely to be down a few Morenos as former Liverpool defender Alberto is still recovering from a cruciate ligament injury he sustained in early March. Photo: Domenech Castello/EPA With the dust barely settling from yesterday's thriller at the Etihad Stadium, Liverpool and Villarreal meet at Anfield in the first leg of this season's other Champions League semi-final. Also read: Manchester City beat Real Madrid in a 4-3 thriller but Benzema keeps the tie alive They have a hard time following them but while Villarreal are the least appreciated of the teams in the last four, they both eliminate Juventus and Bayern Munich in the Round of 16 means only the naïve would underestimate the skills of the small-town team from Castellón. Kick-off at Anfield is at 8pm (BST) but in the meantime stay tuned for updates on the team and build-up.

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Liverpool quadruple pursuit may become 'immortal'

Liverpool advance to eight games of 'immortality' with their Champions League win over Villarreal, so can they do it? (Author: Gardener)

LiverpoolThe only downside for the Reds was that they should have won by a bigger margin in an absolutely convincing performance. The winners meet either Liverpool's Premier League title rivals Manchester City or designated La Liga champions Real Madrid in the final. So can the Reds really win all four trophies, what did boss Jurgen Klopp think of the win and do Villarreal have a chance at home next week? Manchester United, Barcelona, ​​Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Celtic, Ajax and PSV have all won the treble of European Cup, league title and domestic cup. But Liverpool - who have already won the Carabao Cup - are still in the running for an unprecedented quadruple. "That has to be the goal," former England defender Rio Ferdinand told BT Sport. “You will set the goal. If they achieve it, they are immortal, they rank above anyone who has played the game in this country.” Whether they can achieve it remains to be seen. But at the moment they are ticking the boxes along the way -Reds defender Luis Enrique said on BBC Radio 5 Live: "You can win all four trophies. It's almost impossible, but you have that 1% chance. I've never seen a Liverpool squad like this - the players also look like they think they're a fantastic team, they feel the moment and seize it. "That's why they're chasing four trophies, because they're experienced enough to know when to do it." BBC senior football reporter Ian Dennis said: "Liverpool have eight games in 31 days and every single one of them is a cup final. Liverpool boss Klopp said: "It was a brilliant game. I really liked the first half.” In the second half we finished the situation superbly. We wanted to score a third goal but from that moment it made sense that we controlled the game and we did that. You show respect to your opponent by defending them.” Liverpool have scored 135 goals in all competitions this season. The only defeat in 2022 was in the Champions League round of 16 second leg against Inter Milan. Ferdinand said: "This is the best Liverpool team I've ever seen. It's the way they push teams, the energy, the commitment, the commitment, you marvel at it. This is the best I've ever seen. "Liverpool are going again. This is a Champions League semi-final and they are hiring players like they are resting players. It should be a blueprint for other clubs like Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United." The Reds won the English title in 2019/20 after a 30-year wait, having previously come close in 2013/14. Owen said: "We should give credit to Brendan Rodgers (former Liverpool manager). I didn't think I'd ever see a trio like Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez up front. "It's dreamland for Liverpool fans . The last 10 years have been a dream. It's Liverpool's turn in the cycle. Inevitably, other teams will come back.” “Villarreal just caught a pulse,” said Owen. "If Liverpool stole another one it would have been game, set, game. "When Villarreal score an early goal in Spain, you never know." Only twice has a team lost the first leg of a European Cup semi-final 2-0 to progress - Hamburg v Real Madrid in 1979/80 and Roma v Dundee United in 1983/84. The Reds have never been eliminated after a 2-0 home win in the first leg in Europe. But they have conceded at least three goals in each of their last three Champions League semi-finals. Villarreal manager Unai Emery said his team will play differently next week after having just one shot - a joint record low for a Champions League semi-final. He said: "It's not a good result but we'll try to dream and do something different at home." Next week's game will be very different from tonight's. You will suffer more than tonight. "For me it's the best example of the 2-0 at half-time. You have to be vigilant and play the second like the first.

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