Liverpool player ratings: Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane shine to seal Champions League final spot

Liverpool are into the 2022 Champions League final after beating Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate in the semi-finals.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2022, 10:17 pm

Liverpool are heading back to the Champions League final after seeing off Villarreal - but not without a scare.

The Reds delivered a 3-2 victory in the semi-final second leg at El Madrigal, which gave them a 5-2 win on aggregate.

Yet Jurgen Klopp’s side found themselves level at half-time of the clash in Spain and needed an improved second-half performance to ensure they’re into a third European Cup final in five years. Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane were on target.

Liverpool were left shellshocked in the first half as their two-goal advantage swiftly perished.

Villarreal made the dream start when Boulaye Dia opened the scoring in just the third minute.

Then the Yellow Submarine were level on 41 minutes through a Francis Coquelin header.

However, the Reds would improve in the second period and retake the lead on aggregate when Fabinho squirmed a lot through the legs of home keeper Gerónimo Rulli.

Then Liverpool increased their lead through substitute Diaz’s header.

And Klopp’s troops would not only take the lead on the night but book their place in Paris with a third goal in 12 minutes.

Rulli raced off his line but was beaten by Mane, who stroked home into an empty net.

It means the Reds’ place for the final in Paris later this month is secured - where they’ll play either Manchester City or Real Madrid.

And the dream of an unprecedented quadruple remains very much alive.

The heroes

- Luis Diaz: completely changed the game for Liverpool. The Reds would not be where they are without signing him in January.

- Sadio Mane: one of the few players who had a decent first half then came alive after the break. Ice-cold nerves to round off the win.

- Jurgen Klopp: whatever the Liverpool boss said at half-time, it worked emphatically.

The villains

- Gerónimo Rulli: a nightmare performance from the Villarreal keeper. Definitely culpable for two of Liverpool’s goals - perhaps all three.

- Unai Emery: masterminded a first-half plan but was unable to come up with the solutions when the Reds got on top in the second half.

Here’s how we rated the Liverpool players.

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