Player ratings as Reds put one foot in Champions League final

Liverpool put one foot in a landmark 10th European Cup final – a fifth in the Champions League era – with a commanding 2-0 win over Villarreal at Anfield in the first leg of their semi-final.

A freak own goal from Pervis Estupinan and a neat Sadio Mane finish within just a couple of second-half minutes of each other proved to be decisive.

Mane went close to breaking the deadlock early on but misdirected his header from Mohamed Salah’s cross wide of the goal. Luis Diaz also forced a save and fumble from Geronimo Rulli that the Villarreal goalkeeper quickly recovered.

The attacking momentum remained with Liverpool throughout and Rulli had to parry another Diaz strike fired in from the left at the half hour mark. Raul Albiol was then on hand to ensure no Liverpool player could turn the ball into the net in the immediate aftermath. Within moments, Albiol had deflected a Mane effort agonizingly wide of the post. Giovani Lo Celso also blocked from Salah.

Liverpool thought the breakthrough had come in the closing stages of the first half when Thiago unleashed a fierce shot from distance. But the ball smacked the post and bounced clear.

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