Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal (Agg 3-1): Reds reach Europa League final
By James Walker-Roberts at Anfield
Last Updated: 06/05/16 8:33am
Liverpool reached the Europa League final following a 3-0 semi-final second-leg victory over Villarreal at Anfield, going through 3-1 on aggregate.
Jurgen Klopp's side were looking to fight back after a late defeat in Spain last week, and levelled the tie after seven minutes on Thursday night through Bruno's own goal.
Daniel Sturridge put a dominant Liverpool ahead in the tie for the first time on 63 minutes, converting off the post after being put through by Roberto Firmino, before Victor Ruiz was sent off for a second yellow card with 20 minutes remaining.
Adam Lallana added a third late on from close range, and the Reds will face Sevilla in the final in Basel on May 18 after they saw off Shakhtar Donetsk.
It was an emotionally-charged evening for Liverpool in their first home game since the conclusion of the Hillsborough inquests, and they matched the electric atmosphere with a stellar display.
Following a stirring rendition of 'You'll Never Walk Alone', the hosts, with Sturridge and Emre Can back in the side, fed off the energy in the stands and soon levelled the tie on aggregate.
After Simon Mignolet saved a low shot at one end, Liverpool came forward down the right with Nathaniel Clyne. His cross was palmed out by goalkeeper Alphonese Areola to Firmino, whose ball back into the middle was deflected into his own net by Bruno.
Roared on by a raucous crowd, Liverpool dominated proceedings, with Lallana sweeping a shot across goal and Can almost turning in a corner.
Villarreal offered little at the other end and it wasn't until the very end of the half that they created a clear chance, with Cedric Bakambu shooting tamely at Mignolet from Roberto Soldado's right-wing pass.
It looked as though Cedric might have another opening early in the second half, but Dejan Lovren denied him with a fine recovery tackle.
From then on, it was almost all Liverpool as the hosts soon reasserted their control of the game.
James Milner and Sturridge shot at Areola before a rare Villarreal chance saw Soldado head wide from a free-kick.
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The second Liverpool goal arrived in the 63rd minute, as Firmino played in Sturridge and he kept his cool to beat Areola from close range.
Villarreal still needed just a goal to progress to the final but their efforts were made harder when Ruiz was shown a second yellow card for fouling Lallana.
There only looked to be one winner after that and Liverpool made sure of victory when Firmino burst around the outside of his marker and pulled the ball back for Sturridge, whose scuffed shot was turned in by Lallana from a few yards out.
Liverpool could have had more, with Sturridge spurning a one-on-one chance, but in the end three was enough for them to progress to the final.