Villarreal go down fighting against Liverpool

Sports Desk, May 3 (EFE).- Villarreal saw their Cinderella run in the 2021-2022 Champions League come to an end Tuesday with a 5-2 aggregate loss to Liverpool in the semifinal, but they gave the Reds some anxious moments and their own supporters a magical European night to remember.

Down 2-0 after the first leg at Anfield, the Europa League holders halved the deficit in the 3rd minute with a goal by Boulaye Dia and Francis Coquelin leveled the tie for the hosts in the 41st.

Extra-time looked like a serious possibility until Liverpool exploded for three goals in 12 minutes to reach the final for a 10th time, trailing only Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and AC Milan.

Jürgen Klopp’s men were vastly improved in the second half, even so, the overall remained 2-2 as the contest entered the final 30 minutes of regulation.

The breakthrough came in the 62nd minute courtesy of Fabinho and Luis Diaz gave the visitors a two-goal cushion five minutes later.

Sadio Mane exploited a blunder by Villarreal keeper Gero Rulli to score into an unguarded net in the 74th minute and send Liverpool through to their third Champions League final in five years.

Standing between the Reds and a second Champions League triumph of the Klopp era will be the winner of the other semifinal pitting Real Madrid, who have hoisted the trophy a record 13 times, against Manchester City.

City, still in pursuit of their first Champions League title, lead 4-3 after a wild first leg in Manchester. EFE cta/dr

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