Yellow Submarine sink Liverpool late on after Lopez’s injury-time winner
Sam Barnard, Assistant Sports Editor | April 28, 2016
Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool
- Allen spurned glorious chance but shot straight at Asenjo
- Soldado had two decent first-half opportunities to net
- Bakambu and Firmino hit post after the break
- Adrian Lopez finds late winner for Villarreal
Lopez strikes late for Villarreal
Villarreal and Liverpool lined-up against each other in what has been dubbed ‘The Beatles derby’ for the first time ever, and they certainly came together as one with Yellow Submarine fans showing their support to the Hillsborough 96 by flying a giant flag.
The two teams could not be separated for 90 minutes in their Europa League first leg semi-final, but Adrian Lopez snatched a late injury-time winner to give his side a crucial 1-0 lead without conceding an away goal.
It was a lively start to the occasion in Spain, and Liverpool’s Joe Allen had the first real chance in the fifth minute after James Milner picked him out, but the Welshman’s soft shot was straight at keeper Sergio Asenjo from close range.
Soldado fails to prove English doubters wrong
Former Tottenham flop Roberto Soldado threatened to put his side in front at the other end soon after, doing well to take down a pass, though was just wide of the post form a tight angle.
The visiting Reds continued to attack, however, and had efforts from out the area, firstly from Lucas Leiva and then Adam Lallana. Neither tested Spanish stopper Asenjo.
Villarreal certainly continued played their part in the opening stages action too, and Tomas Pina forced Simon Mignolet into a save down to his left, while getting another half-chance due to a poor clearance.
Shots on goal dried up from then on, until minutes before the break, when Soldado’s inward curler just grazed the post.
Woodwork save both teams in second-half
DR Congo striker Cedric Bakambu, who has been prolific for Villarreal this season especially in the Europa League, nearly found the target straight after the break, but headed onto the outside of the upright from Jonathan dos Santos’ corner.
The pace slowed down for the next few minutes, though Roberto Firmino sprang into life and found the post too, via Asenjo’s palm.
With the match seemingly destined to finish 0-0, both sides suddenly found themselves with one-on-one chances. Firstly, Villarreal’s Bakambu looked certain to score, but somehow Mignolet saved with an outstretched arm, while immediately at the other end Alberto Moreno was unable to hit the target.
Late Lopez winner will not break too many Liverpool hearts
But Lopez ensured that fans did go home after finally witnessing a goal, as he slotted into an empty net after latching onto Denis Suarez’s pass.
The win for the Spaniards gives them a narrow lead ahead of the second leg at Anfield, but going by the Reds’ astonishing triumph over Borussia Dortmund in the last round, the tie is far from over.
In the other semi-final, it was all square as Sevilla claimed two away goals in a 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.