Liverpool required two second-half goals in two minutes to overcome Villarreal 2-0 in their UEFA Champions League (UCL) semi-final first leg match at Anfield stadium on Wednesday night.
Both goals came early in the half, with the Reds capitalizing on Villarreal’s own goal to take the lead before Sadio Mane doubled Liverpool’s lead.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were on the front foot from the first whistle, pinning Unai Emery’s visiting team to frenetic defending throughout the night.
Mane and Mohamed Salah both wasted clear openings while Thiago Alcantara hit the post as Villarreal’s time-wasting gameplan was being executed to perfection.
This was however ripped apart when Jordan Henderson’s cross took a deflection off Pervis Estupinan before looping into the net on 53 minutes for a 1-0 lead to Liverpool.
Two minutes later, it was 2-0 as Mane timed his run to perfection to receive a Salah pass before slotting into the net for his 14th goal in the knockout face of UCL, equaling Didier Drogba’s record for an African player.
Despite having chances to increase their lead including a goal disallowed by VAR, Liverpool held on to their lead and will go into the second leg in Spain on May 3 with a two-goal advantage.