Liverpool breeze past Villarreal to close in on Champions League final

An own goal and a Sadio Mane strike earned Liverpool a 2-0 victory in their Champions League semi-final first-leg against Villarreal on Wednesday, putting Juergen Klopp’s side on course for their third European Cup final in five seasons.

Villarreal defended in numbers in the first half to frustrate the six-times European Cup winners, with Thiago Alcantara going closest to breaking the deadlock with a thunderous strike from distance that hit the post.

Liverpool turned it up a notch after the break and moments after Brazilian midfielder Fabinho had seen one effort ruled out for offside, Jordan Henderson’s cross was deflected into his own net by Pervis Estupinan to break Villarreal’s resistance.

Able to express themselves with the deadlock broken, Mohamed Salah threaded a sublime pass through for Mane to put the game beyond the visitors 133 seconds later.

Liverpool had chances to make the result more comprehensive, but will be firm favourites to finish the job in next week’s second leg in Spain.

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