UEFA Champions League match report Liverpool v Villarreal 27 April 2022

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Liverpool gained the upper hand in the UEFA Champions League semi-final with a 2-0 win over Villarreal in the first leg on Wednesday evening.

The Reds made three changes from the side that beat Everton, as Ibrahima Konate was recalled to partner Virgil Van Dijk, Jordan Henderson was preferred over Naby Keita and Luis Diaz started ahead of Diogo Jota.

Jurgen Klopp's charges were lively in the opening exchanges but not clinical in front of goal, as Henderson came close to breaking the deadlock only midway through the first stanza with a first-time cross that clattered the outside of the near post.

The hosts kept their foot on the pedal as Mane had a chance just after the half-hour mark with a strike from the edge of the box that was deflected narrowly wide.

Liverpool finished the first half strongly as Thiago came close to breaking the deadlock with a strike from range that rattled the post.

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The Reds continued in a similar vein after the halftime break and were rewarded eight minutes from the restart after Pervis Estupinan deflected Henderson's cross over goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

Liverpool did not allow Unai Emery's men to settle, as Mane quickly doubled their lead two minutes later with a low strike away from Rulli after a through ball by Salah.

The Reds continued to threaten to get the third goal and Klopp kept Villarreal on their toes with an attacking change in midfield in the last quarter of an hour, as Keita replaced Henderson and Jota came on for Mane for fresh legs upfront.

The Yellow Submarine had their backs against the wall in the closing stages and their first shot on target three minutes before time was a tame effort from Boulaye Dia, as Liverpool clinched a 2-0 win ahead of the second leg next week.