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Dublin: -1°C Sunday 11 April 2021


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Hello, and welcome to tonight’s liveblog.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on the game. E-mail, tweet @the42_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.

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Here’s the Villarreal starting XI for tonight…

Asenjo; Mario, Bailly, Ruiz, Costa; Dos Santos, Pina, Bruno, Suárez; Soldado, Bakambu.

Villarreal v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League - Semi Final - First Leg - Estadio El Madrigal The Villareal team coach arrives ahead of the UEFA Europa League Semi-Final followed by a yellow submarine.

Speaking on BT Sport, Jurgen Klopp admits it was a difficult decision to leave Sturridge out, but says he wanted to go for more “stability” tonight.


Liverpool appear to have started with a 4-3-3 formation, with Firmino as the central striker.

Villarreal, meanwhile, are playing their usual 4-4-2.

As I type, Dos Santos has the game’s first shot on target, but it’s comfortably gathered by Mignolet.


Decent chance!

Allen gets on the end of a deflected Lallana cross, but the Welsh international’s strike just inside the box is tame and straight at the goalkeeper.


Liverpool are caught sleeping, as Soldado latches on to a quick free-kick.

However, the former Spurs man lashes his shot wide from a tight angle.


The ball falls to Lucas on the edge of the area, but his attempt goes well wide.

That’s in keeping with the Brazilian’s poor record in front of goal — it’s been six years since he last scored.


It’s been even enough so far.

Aside from one or two half-chances, Liverpool appear fairly comfortable, without looking especially threatening themselves.


Better from Villarreal!

After a decent build-up by the hosts, Liverpool can only half clear, and Pina forces a good save from Mignolet, with a curling effort from the edge of the box.


Liverpool have been getting plenty of crosses in, but their final ball has been poor so far.

Meanwhile, in tonight’s other semi-final, it’s already Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Sevilla.


Dos Santos is receiving treatment after falling awkwardly, having gone up for a challenge with Moreno.

Villarreal may be forced into an early substitution as a result.


Villarreal v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League - Semi Final - First Leg - Estadio El Madrigal Villarreal supporters with a large banner which reads 'You'll never walk alone' in tribute to the 96 victims of the Hillborough disaster. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images


The ball falls to Mario inside the box, but Moreno gets a good last-ditch block to deflect the full-back’s shot out for a corner.

Liverpool have looked very solid at the back so far despite the absence of Sakho tonight.


Benteke is already warming up. Perhaps the former Aston Villa man can add some much-needed threat to the Liverpool attack after the break.

As if to emphasise Liverpool’s ineptitude in the final third thus far, Coutinho fires a shot from the edge of the box well over as I type.


A nice, incisive pass from Bruno finds Soldado.

The striker curls a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the box.


So half-time, and in truth, it’s been far short of the classic we were treated the last time Liverpool played in this competition.

It’s been a cagey affair, with both sides missing a couple of half chances, but failing to put their opponents under sustained pressure.

With Benteke and Sturridge both on the bench, Klopp may look to change things for the second half, with Liverpool’s Firmino-led attack working hard but looking a little toothless at times.

And while it has hardly been a thriller, both sides won’t be too disappointed with how that opening period panned out, with the tie still finely balanced as we await the second half.


Decent chance early on for Bakambu, as his header from a corner hits the outside of the post.

Liverpool made a change at the break, with Jordon Ibe now on for Philippe Coutinho.


Turns out Coutinho was feeling unwell, which explains his below-par performance and subsequent substitution.

Liverpool have made a decent start to this half, and have controlled the play without creating a clear-cut chance yet.


Toure and Lovren are looking increasingly comfortable.

This game is there for the taking, if Liverpool can be braver and better in the final third.


Very close, but an excellent save!

Milner finds Firmino, and the Brazilian’s powerful shot is touched on to the post by Sergio Asenjo’s strong hand.


Villarreal make a change, as Dos Santos is replaced by Samu Castillejo.

Less than 20 minutes remain in this game.


The ball falls to Lallana on the edge of the box, but he miscontrols it slightly, and the chance has gone.

Shortly thereafter, Lallana runs through on goal, but he’s adjudged to be offside. Replays reveal that it’s a poor call

Meanwhile, Villarreal make two changes, as Soldado is off, with Adrian Lopez coming on instead, before 22-year-old centre-back Bailly hobbles off to be replaced by Musacchio.


Just the three attempts on target so far, two of which have come from Liverpool.

That stat highlights how creatively inept/defensively excellent both sides have been.


As has invariably been the case in Europe this week, defences have been on top tonight.

Liverpool have looked well organised and performed competently without ever really getting out of second gear. Jurgen Klopp’s side haven’t pressed with their usual high intensity.


Klopp must be tempted to bring on at least one of Sturridge/Benteke for the final few minutes.

This game really does look winnable from a Liverpool perspective, but the German manager is probably content enough with the current scoreline.


Out of nothing, Villarreal miss a very good chance.

Suarez plays through Bakambu, who eludes the defender, before forcing Mignolet into a good save.

Moments later, Moreno robs Suarez of possession, and runs through on goal, but slices his shot wide.

After a sustained period of tedium, this game has suddenly come alive.


That’s a big blow for Liverpool, as they concede in the dying seconds!

It’s a lovely counter-attacking move from Villarreal’s perspective.

Suarez nicely controls a lofted through pass, before unselfishly squaring to Adrian Lopez, who taps the ball home.

Moments later, the final whistle sounds.

So that’s that!

What looked set to be a very decent result for Liverpool was suddenly turned on its head owing to that late drama.

Liverpool barely looked like conceding during the match, though Villarreal suddenly burst into life in the final 10 minutes and dispatched that late chance clinically at the vital moment.

The Reds will be kicking themselves, given that that game looked very winnable, with the Spanish side rarely threatening before their late rally, and Klopp may now be regretting waiting until the 89th minute to introduce a striker.

While the night has ended in disappointment, however, Liverpool will probably still fancy their chances in the second leg, with the heroics they pulled off against Dortmund still fresh in the memory.

Right, that’s all from me, but we’ll have more reaction to follow.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

About the author:

Paul Fennessy