- Second-half goals from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana take Liverpool into final
- Reds through to fourth decider having lifted the trophy in 1973, 1976 and 2001
- Villarreal’s first-leg lead wiped out inside seven minutes by Bruno Soriano own goal
- Villarreal comeback hopes end with Víctor Ruiz’s dismissal on 71 minutes
- The winner will face holders Sevilla in the final in Basel on 18 May
Liverpool reached the 12th final of their illustrious European history with a resounding 3-0 victory over Villarreal at Anfield.
Bruno Soriano’s early own goal cancelled out the visitors’ first-leg advantage, and Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana completed the turnaround in the second period as Liverpool, three-time UEFA Cup winners, booked their place in the UEFA Europa League final in Basel in 13 days time.
It was richly deserved for Jürgen Klopp’s side, who pinned Villarreal back from the start and rarely gave them any respite. Villarreal looked a beaten team even before the sending-off of Víctor Ruiz in the 71st minute after he was shown a second yellow card.
Liverpool made the perfect start when Nathaniel Clyne’s low ball across goal was picked up beyond the far post by Roberto Firmino, who drove low into the danger zone. Sturridge failed to connect but Soriano behind him deflected the ball into his own net.
Liverpool’s intensity was something to behold in the early stages as, roared on by the Anfield crowd, they pressed relentlessly. Lallana could have had a second goal but scuffed at James Milner’s brilliant ball in.
Villarreal had actually missed an early opportunity when Mario Gaspar forced a low save from Simon Mignolet but it was not until the last seconds of the half that they threatened again. Cédric Bakumbu failed to properly connect inside the Liverpool box
Villarreal had not lost in the competition since matchday one yet when there was a sniff of a chance for Bakumbu at the start of the second half, Dejan Lovren denied him with an outstanding challenge.
At the other end Alphonse Aréola saved from Philippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, but in the 63th minute Sturridge got the second goal. Roberto Firminho’s lovely flicked pass split the Villarreal defence and Sturridge shot under Aréola and in off the post.
Firminho was involved in the third goal too when he pulled the ball back from the byline to Sturridge, whose scuffed shot was turned in by Lallana.