Liverpool came back from behind against Villarreal to qualify for their third UEFA Champions League final in five seasons
Villarreal raced into an early lead at El Madrigal on Tuesday with Senegalese attacker Boulaye Dia scoring in the third minute.
It was the perfect start for the Unai Emery-led Yellow Submarine as they piled pressure on the quadruple-chasing Liverpool.
Four minutes before the break, Villarreal grabbed their second of the evening to cancel out Liverpool’s two-goal lead. It was the perfect half for the Spanish side but it was also the last fleece they’d enjoy in the Champions League as the Reds came hot in the second half.
Villarreal’s shocking lead forced Jurgen Klopp’s hands as he made a halftime substitution by replacing Portuguese Diogo Jota with Colombian attacker Luis Diaz.
Diaz grew an instant thorn in Villarreal’s flesh and caused all manners of problems for the hosts. Fabinho struck in the 62nd minute to give Liverpool their first of the night and put them back in advantage on aggregate. Geronimo Rulli poorly handled the shot and it was only the beginning of a night of consistent errors from the goalkeeper.
Five minutes after scoring their first, Diaz leveled for Liverpool courtesy of a Trent Alexander-Arnold assist and this led Emery into making an instant change.
He brought on Samuel Chukwueze for Gerard Moreno but it proved too late for any significant impact.
Sadio Mane scored the winner for Liverpool as another Rulli error ensured Liverpool sat comfortably in the driving seat with a 5-2 aggregate lead.
Chukwueze didn’t have much to do in the game and was prevented from being the first Nigerian to qualify for a Champions League final in 10 years.
Liverpool will know their final opponents tomorrow as Man City face Real Madrid at the Bernabeu.
Villarreal currently sitting 7th on the Spanish league table may be playing in the Europa Conference League next season.