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Liverpool ratings: Luis Diaz gets 9 as Villarreal win seals Champions League final spot


Luis Diaz proved to be the difference as Liverpool survived a major scare to book their place in the Champions League final. The Reds had to come from 2-0 down at half-time to beat Villarreal 3-2 in rainy Spain courtesy of second-half goals from Fabinho, Diaz and Sadio Mane.

It was a dream start for the hosts inside just three minutes, when they set this tie alight courtesy of former West Ham target Boulaye Dia’s third-minute opener.

But it would get even better for Villarreal when former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin headed home to draw the La Liga side level on aggregate.

Liverpool regrouped after the interval though and regained control of the tie, much to the help of Diaz’s impact from the bench.

It was Fabinho who struck first when he roved the ball under Geronimo Rulli before Diaz climbed highest to head home from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross.

Mane then made sure of Liverpool’s place in Paris when he successfully evaded the reckless and calamitous Rulli before cooly slotting home.

Here’s how Liverpool’s players rated against Unai Emery’s side…

Alisson – 6

Completely lost the flight of the ball for the opener and was in the goal as the ball hit the net.

Was somewhat fortunate – although it was the correct call – not to give away a penalty when he collided with Giovani Lo Celso.

The Argentine did run the ball into his fellow South American but the goalkeeper was clumsy, despite fairly winning the ball in the end.

Trent Alexander-Arnold – 6

Was clearly being targeted by Villarreal from the get-go. They were constantly looking to exploit him and the space in his channel, particularly through Pervis Estupinan.

The first goal came down his side, then he failed to jump as Coquelin headed home the second.

Hit the bar with a deflected strike in the second half when he started to up the ante as Liverpool went in pursuit of a goal.

To his credit, he was excellent in the second half and his crossing ability was a lethal weapon for the Reds, as he registered an assist for Diaz.

Ibrahima Konate – 7

Done his job, heading and tackling well to ensure Villarreal did not score more than two goals.

Virgil van Dijk – 8

Defended well and helped Liverpool hold it together until half-time after conceding the second.

Andy Robertson – 6

Also not at the races. Switched off for the opener his passing was sloppy. The left-back struggled to help Liverpool turn defence into attack, something that is usually his bread and butter.

Fabinho – 8

Continued his fine goalscoring campaign by striking arguably the most important goal of Liverpool’s season.

Fired through the legs of Rulli, who really should have done better. Subbed in the closing stages.

Thiago Alcantara – 6

His passing was also wayward. His first-half pass completion percentage was around 70 per cent, his worst total in this season’s competition.

Naby Keita – 5

Really did not justify his selection – a similar story to last season’s quarter-final against Real Madrid.

Made captain Jordan Henderson’s omission even more baffling – although he did improve in the second half.

Mohamed Salah – 7

Although he’s been far sharper in the final third, he was causing major problems throughout the entirety of the match and his decision making was always correct.

Diogo Jota – 5

Subbed at half-time. Wasted a glorious chance to net a crucial goal for the Reds when he took a heavy touch as he looked to evade Raul Albiol.

Link up play just wasn’t of the required standard and that’s been the case for a while now.

Sadio Mane – 7

Looked off the pace in the first half, chasing around after his first touch.

But in typical Mane fashion, he still had a huge say on the game by scoring Liverpool’s third to kill off the match.

Substitutes

Luis Diaz – 9

Exceptional display. The difference-maker. Liverpool would not have won this tie had it not been for Luis Diaz, who is starting to look like signing of the season.

He made things happen and got his reward when he headed in Liverpool’s second of the night.



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