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On the Spot Report: Villarreal drop to Liverpool in Champions League semi-final first leg

A strong first half isn’t enough for Villarreal

Liverpool v Villarreal Semi Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Alex Gottschalk/vi/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The first half went, mostly, the way Unai Emery would have scripted it. Two banks of four, compact, hard working and no dynamic chances in space for Liverpool FC. The closest they came to scoring was a long range shot from Thiago that rattled off the post.

The second half was a very different animal. Instead of Liverpool’s extremely intense press fading, it came out with more ferocity than ever. Nevertheless, the first goal LFC scored was extremely fluky. Henderson looked to cross the ball, Rulli read it, and as soon as he went to leave his feet to punch it away (which, he tries to punch everything away and it’s annoying and it’s a problem) Pervis Estupinan got a toe on the ball that changed it’s trajectory enough to put it behind Gero.

What felt like seconds later, Salah unlocked the Villarreal back line for Sadio Mane, who was just onside, and he scored a second. The offside trap worked really well for Villarreal for much of the game but it let us down just barely there.

Estupinan seemed to lose his composure after the first goal, and Pedraza coming on was a good change. I do think Liverpool are better than Bayern Munich, but not having Gerard Moreno as a reference point like we did in both legs against the German club really took all the teeth out of our offense for most of the night. Chukwueze and Danjuma as a front two had good pace but did not coordinate well enough to score. Late on, they were replaced by Dia and Alcacer as Emery just tried to see the match out.

All to do as we go back to La Ceramica, not the terrible lashing some teams have gotten in Anfield this season but we would have hoped for something a bit closer.