Liverpool vs Villarreal: The Champions League defeat could have been much worse, says Unai Emery

The Reds secured a dominant 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Jordan Henderson's deflected effort and Sadio Mane's poke in from Mohamed Salah's assist.

Unai Emery in a file photo; Credit: Twitter/@VillarrealCFen
By Sreejith C R | Apr 28, 2022 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Villarreal boss Unai Emery was relieved his side will go into the second leg of the champions League semi-final with only a 2-0 deficit after their defensive gameplan backfired at Anfield. The Yellow Submarine managed to keep it goalless in the first half, but after the break, Liverpool broke the deadlock through Jordan Henderson’s deflected effort and Sadio Mane doubled the lead from Mohamed Salah’s effort. It was a dominant performance from Jurgen Klopp’s side as they managed to register 68% ball possession and record 20 shots at Anfield. Meanwhile the La Liga outfit failed to register even a single shot on target in the entire match. “I have to admit, it could have been much worse,” Emery told Movistar Plus.

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Even after taking a two goal lead, the Reds didn’t take their foot off the pedal and continued to pass the ball around smoothly and kept the ball possession. The Spanish coach added “We have tried to attack, to pass, to construct but they did not let us do anything and our last resort was to resist defensively in order to survive for the second match.”

Villarreal will have to change gameplan for second leg

Emery’s side will surely need to change their gameplan in the second leg, if they are to overturn a two goal deficit. In their last three Champions League games, the Spanish outfit has managed to register just two shots on target and that was in the two legs against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals, when they managed to find the back of the net from those and secured a 2-1 aggregate victory to eliminate the German giants. Emery added “We didn’t do enough to lament about anything. We have to be humble and try to make the second leg a totally different game. We have to play with more intensity, like we are used to.”

Plan was to try and hold them scoreless: Pau Torres

Villarreal had displayed a solid defensive game to get the better of Juventus and Bayern in the previous rounds and make it to the final four of the tournament for only the second time in their history. “The plan was to try and hold them scoreless as far as possible and take the game to our stadium” central defender Pau Torres told Movistar Plus. “But in the end any mistake penalises you,”he added, referring to Villarreal full-back Pervis Estupinan deflecting henderson’s cross into his own goal, early in the second half.

“We felt comfortable in the first half hour plan was working to perfection, but we had a very good opponent up front of us that managed to score the second goal too quickly because we were still taking in the blow of the first. We are only two goals behind. A lot of things can happen in football and 90 minutes is a long time. If we manage to score early we are back in the tie,” Torres said.

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