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Key Events

Denis Suárez
Assist
Adrián
Goal
C. Benteke
Roberto Firmino
M. Musacchio
E. Bailly
Adrián
Soldado
Samu Castillejo
J. dos Santos
Jaume Costa
Yellow Card
J. Ibe
Philippe Coutinho
3
1
2
0

Stats

Possession
% %
4
8
Shots Off Target
Shots On Target 3 3
Total Passes 473 558

Commentary

Well, that’s all we have time for this evening. It has been an absolute pleasure to bring you all the action from El Madrigal this evening, with this tie now perfectly poised for the second leg. Until next time, thank you and goodbye!
It provides Villarreal with a vital advantage heading to Anfield, though the La Liga side will still have to be at their very best if they are to withstand the inevitable Liverpool charge that will come next Thursday. 
Well, what a climax to the game that was! The fixture appeared to be ebbing tamely to a close, until Cedric Bakambu forced a superb save out of Simon Mignolet late in the game. That chance spurred a flurry of activity, with Alberto Moreno missing a gilt-edged chance at the other end before a well-worked counter-attack resulted in Villarreal snatching the victory deep into stoppage time!
FULL TIME! It’s all over at El Madrigal, and it has finished Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool in the first leg of this Europa League semi-final thanks to a last-gasp strike from substitute Adrian Lopez! It is immensely cruel on the visitors, who had put in an immaculate display for 92 minutes, but the hosts finally made their dominance pay as Denis Suarez raced in on goal before teeing up the former Atletico Madrid striker, who gave Marcelino’s side a slender lead to take into the return leg at Anfield next week.
Denis Suárez
Assist
Villarreal
It was an incredible move from the home side, and Suarez remained calm and composed in front of goal to tee up his awaiting teammate, who made no mistake with the finish.
Adrián
Goal
Villarreal
GOOOOOOAAAALLLLL!!! VILLARREAL TAKE THE LEAD! What a counter from the hosts, as they carve a sublime passing move through the middle of the park before Bruno floats a superb pass over to Suarez. The ex-Barcelona youngster drives into the area and, in composed fashion, slips a square pass in to the feet of Adrian, who gas the simple task of slotting home from close range and sending the home crowd into raptures!
C. Benteke
Roberto Firmino
Liverpool
A second change now for Liverpool, as Klopp finally decides the time is right to introduce Christian Benteke. Roberto Firmino is the player to make way, as the fourth official indicates a minimum of three minutes added time.
CHANCE! End to end stuff now at El Madrigal as, from a Villarreal corner, Suarez’s error allows Moreno to counter at pace. The full back has the freedom of the hosts’ half to drive into, and so he does, sprinting towards goal before powering a venomous strike towards the top-left corner, but it whistles agonisingly wide. This game has suddenly sparked back into life!
FANTASTIC SAVE! What a chance that was for Villarreal! It appeared that the match was ebbing to a tame finish, but it could all have changed as Bakambu managed to get in behind Liverpool’s line for the first time this evening. The forward looked set to curl an effort into the left corner, but Mignolet reacts instinctively to get to dive to his right and parry the ball away.
With five minutes, plus stoppage time, remaining in this first leg, it will be interesting to see if Klopp elects to introduce Daniel Sturridge into the fray to try and put a cap on this evening’s professional display with what would be a vital away goal. However, there is no sign of any movement on the touchline just yet, and it appears that the German is satisfied with his side seeing this result out and heading into the second leg on level terms.
It has been a really disappointing performance from the hosts this evening, and matters now look to have been made worse as Pina struggles to move freely - holding his hamstring as he limps around the pitch. Can Marcelino’s men muster something in the final few minutes?
POOR! That’s an awful delivery from Suarez who, for all his quality, hooks a tame, lofted cross straight into the grasp of Mignolet. That effort rather sums up Villarreal’s night so far!
It has been an extremely professional and efficient display by the visitors this evening, and if they can keep the score like this in the final 10 minutes or so, they can head into next week’s return leg knowing that a berth in the final is well within their reach. However, Villarreal do have an opportunity to change that now, as they win a free-kick 30 yards from Liverpool’s goal. Suarez stands over it...
M. Musacchio
E. Bailly
Villarreal
This does not look good for Baily, as the 22-year-old defender has to make way after picking up what appears to be a hamstring injury. It seems to have occurred a moment earlier, when the Ivorian tracked the run of Lallana to prevent the Liverpool man getting his shot away, even though he was eventually flagged offside. His replacement is Mateo Musacchio.
UNLUCKY! That’s a poor call from the linesman, who incorrectly flagged Lallana offside after he had made a terrific, curling run to get on the end of a lofted pass from deep. 
Adrián
Soldado
Villarreal
A second substitution in qucik succession from Marcelino, as he replaces Roberto Soldado with Adrián López.
That’s a chance for Lallana, as Baily’s poor header falls straight to the feet of the Liverpool playmaker in the centre of the penalty area. However, the England midfielder is unable to take the ball under his spell, and the opportunity goes amiss.
Samu Castillejo
J. dos Santos
Villarreal
A first change of the game now for Villarreal, as Samu Castillejo is introduced in place of Jonathan dos Santos.
Soldado is unhappy here, as he believes Toure should be on the receiving end of a booking after the former Manchester City defender lunged in high to win the ball. The Villarreal striker gets some semblance of revenge by sliding in late on Lucas, and though the referee shows no yellow cards, he clearly indicates that the hosts’ skipper needs to calm down.
A bit of a flashpoint now on the touchline, as Marcelino and Klopp cross hairs following a hefty challenge from Lucas. However, the argument is short-lived, and ends with the two coaches embracing before making their way back to their respective technical areas. Good to see!
POST! That’s a superb stop by Asenjo, as the Villarreal goalkeeper gets down low to his left to parry Frimino’s rasping strike onto the right-hand woodwork and prevent Liverpool taking the lead.
A brief pause in play now, as Costa receives some treatment on a busted lip after the Villarreal defender had clattered into the elbow of Lovren - though there was certainly no malice from the Liverpool player.
GREAT TACKLE! That’s a fantastic challenge by Milner, as the Liverpool skipper - who has been exceptional so far this evening - slides in perfectly on Suarez to prevent the former Manchester City academy player driving in on goal.
Solid defending from Baily, after an error from Soldado had allowed Liverpool to counter at pace through Firmino. The former Hoffenheim forward did well to manufacture a way around Ruiz with a neat bit of skill, but his resulting cross is well cut-out by Baily’s diving header.
Jaume Costa
Yellow Card
Villarreal
The first yellow card of the game now, and it is shown to Villarreal’s Juame Costa after the full back slid in recklessly on Nathaniel Clyne after the Liverpool defender had burst clear down the right flank.
Despite Villarreal having upped the tempo of their attacks noticeably since the restart, Liverpool still seem to appear comfortable in defending their territory and looking to play on the counter. If they can keep this up for the next 15 minutes or so, then Klopp will surely be looking to introduce Daniel Sturridge or Christian Benteke in order to try and clinch what would be a vital away goal.
WASTE! Villarreal have almost been guilty of overplaying at times this evening, and the same can be said again as Bakambu looks to have a chance to get a shot off from close-range, only to instead lay it off to a teammate - this time his strike-partner Soldado. The ex-Tottenham forward quickly nudges the ball wide to Gaspar, who had made a surging run forward, but after driving into the penalty area, the full back can only thump his attempted cross over the target and out of play.
The confirmed news on the status of Coutinho now, and it turns out that the Brazilian was feeling unwell throughout the first half and, as such, has been removed from the fray. Can Ibe, who scored the winning goal agains Rubin Kazan in the group stages of this competition, step up to fill the sizeable void vacated by Liverpool’s No.10?
That’s crisper, more precise play from Liverpool as Allen, Ibe and Milner combine well on the edge of the Villarreal area. The latter eventually engineers enough space for a strike on goal, but Ruiz is well-placed, yet again, to make a timely block.    
STAT FLASH - Should Liverpool not lose this evening, they would have gone 13 European games unbeaten this term, and break a club-record in the process.
The word from the touchline is that Coutinho has not yet returned to the Liverpool bench, which suggests that the Brazilian may have picked up a knock in the first half and, as such, is not being risked for the second period. That would seem the most logical reason for Klopp to have changed the system and taken off such a key player in what is a huge game...
CHANCE! Bakambu should have scored then! The hosts have come out for the second half like they mean business, and they really should have had the lead as the aforementioned striker latched onto a superb corner from Suarez. He was unmarked as he rose between Lovren and Toure, but to Marcelino’s dismay he can only direct his powerful header wide of the target from six yards out.
J. Ibe
Philippe Coutinho
Liverpool
Welcome back! We are up and running in the second half at El Madrigal! There has indeed been a change at the interval, but not for the hosts, as Klopp replaces Philippe Coutinho with Jordan Ibe. Whether that change is a tactical one, or down to an injury, is unclear...
A particular area of the pitch that Villarreal have had some joy in has been Liverpool’s left-back position, with Alberto Moreno having been consistently caught out after making a run upfield an temporarily shirking his defensive duties. However, Dos Santo has, at times, lacked the pace to fully capitalise on these situations, and Marcelino may well look to introduce the quicker and more direct Samu Castillejo after the interval in order to take full advantage.
HALF TIME! We have reached the interval at El Madrigal, with the score still goalless between Villarreal and Liverpool in the first leg of this Europa League semi-final. It has been a rather cagey affair, in all truth, though the hosts have been the dominant force and twice went close through Roberto Soldado. Jurgen Klopp will be happy with his side’s performance, however, and will undoubtedly be looking to exploit the gaps that will inevitably open up later in the game as the hosts become more desperate to take the lead in this tie.
A final chance of the half now, as Liverpool win a corner right at the end of stoppage time. Milner floats in the cross, which Lucas meets with a looping header, and Asenjo is able to come out and collect as the referee finally calls time on the opening half.
Villarreal may have struggled to transfer their possessional dominance into clear-cut chances, but they have certainly restricted Liverpool at the other end thanks to some extremely disciplined defending, mainly from Baily and Ruiz, who are always well-placed to cut out the short, crisp passes between that the likes of Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana thrive on.
SO CLOSE! That’s a superb effort by Soldado who, after being teed up by Bruno’s fantastic throughball, attempts to curl a strike around Toure and into the top-right corner. The shot has Mignolet stranded, with no chance of making a save, but fortunately for the Liverpool shot-stopper the ball inches just wide of the upright.
High and wide! That was a well-worked, patient move by Liverpool as Villarreal dropped off and allowed Coutinho space in midfield. The diminutive playmaker, always capable of a moment of magic, sweeps a pass out right to Clyne, who finds Lallana with a cross-cum-shot. The former Southampton man slips a pass back into the path of Coutinho, who this time elects to go for goal himself, but the Brazilian can only shank his effort way off target.
So far, Toure and Lovren have done an exceptional job of keeping Bakumbu under lock and key, and with Soldado consistently dropping deeper into a No.10 position, the hosts are finding it hard to get their star striker involved in proceedings. Marcelino will need to try and amend that situation if his side are to make the breakthrough, you feel...
CHANCE! One area of the pitch that may be of a concern to Klopp will be the left-back area, with Moreno’s adventurous nature leaving a large gap for the hosts to exploit. Again, Dos Santos gets free and drives into the area and, after having his initial cross blocked, latches onto the rebound and attempts to scoop an effort towards goal, but he is unable to keep the strike down and it soars over the crossbar.
Klopp will certainly be the happier of the two managers at this stage, you feel. It has been a cagey affair up to this point, though Villarreal do manage to thread together a neat move which results in Dos Santos finding space down the right and floating in a deep cross, but neither Suarez not Bakambu can get on the end of it and Allen gets back to hook the ball away from danger.
A rather fortunate decision now for Liverpool, as Allen goes down under pressure from Baily and wins a free-kick, though it did appear that the Villarreal man hadn’t done much to cause the Reds’ midfielder to go down after he had conceded possession with a heavy touch.
Fortunately for Villarreal, Dos Santos’ injury does not appear to be one that will end his game prematurely, and after a brief pause in proceedings while he received treatment, he makes his way back onto the pitch and play continues...
After that brief spell of action, the game has settled back into its rather pedestrian rhythm now. The hosts eventually manage to work a move forward down the right, with Dos Santos latching onto a precise diagonal pass from Ruiz. The midfielder leaps to meet it, colliding into Moreno in an aerial challenge, and as a result has to stay down on the deck and receive treatment for what appears to be an ankle injury.
That effort from Pina shows the quality that Villarreal possess, even though Liverpool have done a good job so far in restricting the service into Bakambu and Soldado. However, the visitors have a chance to counter when Baily sloppily concedes possession with a pass straight into the path of Coutinho, but the Ivorian defender recovers with a fine recovery tackle to regain the ball.
GOOD SAVE! That’s a fine stop from Mignolet, as a combination of the Belgian and some desperate defending from Toure sees Liverpool escape unscathed from a series of Villarreal chances. First, Bakambu has a chance to strike from the edge of the area but instead elects to tee up Suarez, who in turn feeds Dos Santos. The Mexican assesses his options before working it back to Pina, who wastes no time in hammering a low strike towards goal, but Mignolet gets down well to make the stop before, from the returning cross, Toure stretches to head clear.
However, that being said, Klopp’s men are starting to gain something of a foothold in proceedings now, as they work two consecutive moves forward down the right hand flank. But, despite the good build-up play, the eventual crosses - from Milner and then Lallana - are poor ones, and Villarreal are able to clear with ease.
The issue for Liverpool at the moment is that they don’t have a target to aim for up front in order to kick-start quick counter-attacks. Firmno is a fine player, but he is too often dropping deep in order to get involved in the play, with Villarreal allowing little space in behind their defence for the visitors’ attacking trio to exploit.
That’s not far off! Rarely a goalscorer, Lucas almost nets what would have been a stunning strike as he tries his luck with a rasping half-volley from 30 yards out. For a moment it appears that the ball is going to nestle into the top-right corner, but the Brazilian had sliced his effort slightly and it ends up curving away from the target.
Villarreal, whose scalps in this competition this season include Napoli and Bayer Leverkusen have certainly looked to start this game on the front foot, with Liverpool, for the time being, having to be content with sitting back and looking to exploit the hosts on the counter-attack. 
SO CLOSE! That was so unlucky for for Soldado. The former Valencia striker did well to latch onto a quickly-taken set-piece and take the ball down in the area before hammering a half-volley towards the far-left corner, but fortunately for Liverpool the ball flashes across the face of goal and out of play.
It’s been a frenetic start to proceedings at El Madrigal, though the game has settled down somewhat now as Liverpool look to get on the ball and kill Villarreal’s momentum. It appears that Klopp has reverted to a variation of the 4-3-3 system at the moment, with Milner slotting in alongside Lucas and Allen in midfield.
CHANCE! That should have been 1-0 to Liverpool! The visitors did well to carve their hosts open with a well-worked move down the right flank, with Lallana eventually flashing a cross into the centre of the area. Allen is on hand to meet it after making a smart run, but the Welshman can only direct his first-time strike straight down the throat of Asenjo.
CLOSE! Villarreal thread a lovely move together down the left, with Costa combining with Suarez to whip a cross in. Bakambu makes a rush to the near post to get on the end of it, but he is just unable to stretch far enough to connect with his header.
Already, Marcelino is instructing his side to press high on Liverpool. Unusually for a La Liga side, Villarreal are not overly concerned with dominating possession, instead preferring to get the ball quickly into Bakambu and Soldado. And the hosts do just that as Dos Santos threads a pass through to the DR Congo forward and latch onto the return pass. The Mexico midfielder tries his luck with a dipping effort, but Mignolet is well-placed to make the stop.
KICK-OFF! We are under way at El Madrigal, with Villarreal, donning their famous all-yellow strip, get proceedings up and running at the sound of the referees whistle.
The Europa League started as somewhat of a sideline for Liverpool earlier in the campaign, but it now represents a real chance for a trophy and Champions League qualification. However, Villarreal will be desperate to make their first-ever appearance in a European final, and are sure to represent a huge challenge to Klopp’s side over the two legs.
It is a full house at El Madrigal, as The Beatles’ classic 'Yellow Submarine’ rings out over the sound-system. Villarreal are nicknamed after the song, and in homage to that and the visit of Liverpool, they are playing the English version rather than its usual Spanish counterpart as the sides prepare to make their ways out onto the pitch...
Unlike their hosts, Liverpool come into this evening’s clash on the back of a superb run of form, with the only blemish in recent weeks the two-goal lead they let slip against Rafa Benitez’s relegation-battling Newcastle United at Anfield last time out. That draw followed a run of four consecutive victories - including the miraculous comeback against Klopp’s former club Dortmund and the 4-0 thumping of a lacklustre Everton side in last week’s Merseyside derby, and despite having been hit by injuries to key players such as Jordan Henderson, Emre Can and the in-form Divock Origi, along with the aforementioned suspension of Sakho, the Reds will be extremely confident of making it to the final and battle it out with either Shakhtar Donetsk or current holders Sevilla for the Europa League crown and, as a result, a place in next season’s Champions League.
While Villarreal can boast a range of talent throughout their squad, the player Liverpool will be most wary of will certainly be Cedric Bakambu. The 25-year-old has netted nine times in the Europa League this term - making him second in the goalscoring charts behind Atheltic Bilbao’s veteran forward Aduriz - and he has scored 22 goals in all competitions for Marcelino’s men this campaign. Toure and Lovren will have to be at their best if they are to tame the DR Congo forward this evening, while at the same time making sure that former Tottenham man Roberto Soldado is kept under wraps.
Sturridge will undoubtedly be disappointed that, given the injury to Origi, he hasn’t been trusted with a starting berth this evening. Instead, it is Roberto Firmino who is starting in what looks to be a lone-striker role, though it is extremely likely that Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho will drive upfield to link-up with the Brazil forward, who may be more suited to the counter-attacking style that Klopp will most likely look to employ this evening.
TEAM NEWS - Liverpool substitutes: Benteke, Sturridge, Ibe, Skrtel, Smith, Ward, Chirivella.
TEAM NEWS - Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno; Allen, Lucas; Milner, Lallana, Coutinho; Firmino.
TEAM NEWS - Villarreal substitutes: Musacchio, Samu, Areola, Trigueros, Castillejo, Adrian, Rukavina.
TEAM NEWS - Villarreal (4-4-2): Asenjo; Gaspar, Baily, Ruiz, Costa; Dos Santos, Pina, Bruno, Suarez; Soldado, Bakambu.
The team news is in now from El Madrigal, and there are several changes for both sides from the line-ups that started in their most recent respective league fixtures. For the hosts, Jaume Costa has recovered from the injury that kept him out against Real Sociedad to replace Antonio Rukavina at left back, while Jonathan Dos Santos comes in for Samu Castillejo on the right of a four-man midfield. Klopp, meanwhile, makes three amendments in total. Nathaniel Clyne, Philippe Coutinho and Lucas Leiva are the players to come back in, with Kevin Stewart, Connor Randall and Daniel Sturridge, who again misses out on starting in a massive game, making way. In the wake of Mamadou Sakho’s 30-day UEFA suspension for failing a drugs test, Kolo Toure retains his place in the centre of defence, partnering Dejan Lovren, while, rather surprisingly, there is a place on the bench for the out-of-favour Christian Benteke. Without further ado, let’s check on the full line-ups... 
As for Villarreal, they will be desperate to make the most of their home advantage in this leg in order to take a lead back to Anfield for next week’s return fixture. Marcelino’s side - fourth-placed in La Liga - come into this fixture on the back of a poor run of domestic form, having failed to win their last three league fixtures following the 4-2 victory at Sparta Praha that saw them progress from the quarter-finals in this competition. The club has never before reached a European final, having slumped out at the penultimate hurdle of the UEFA Cup in 2003-04, the Champions League in 2005-06 and the Europa League in 2010-11.
It has been an incredibly emotional, bittersweet week for the city and club of Liverpool as, after 27 years, justice was finally served for the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. While emotions will undoubtedly be running high, Klopp will be keen for his side to show composure in what is already their second semi-final appearance of the season under the German, who missed out on claiming his first trophy as Liverpool manager when they were edge-out on penalties by Manchester City in the League Cup final back in February.
Hello and welcome, football fans! As always, thank you for joining us for our LIVE coverage of the first leg of the Europa League semi-final between Villarreal and Liverpool, as Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to El Madrigal with a second cup final of the season in their sites following their dramatic 5-4 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund in the last round. Stick right here for all the action as it happens from what promises to be a thrilling affair!
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