Liverpool ousts Villarreal, reaches Europa League final
Liverpool will play for European silverware after ousting Villarreal 3-0 (3-1 on aggregate) on Thursday at Anfield to reach the UEFA Europa League final.
An own goal off Bruno and a second-half winner from Daniel Sturridge were enough to put the Reds through, and Adam Lallana added a late insurance goal to ensure that all four final places across Europe's two top competitions were not taken by Spanish clubs. Liverpool will face two-time defending champions Sevilla in the May 18 final in Basel, Switzerland (Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will play for the Champions League trophy).
The final presents an opportunity for Liverpool to get into the Champions League despite its current eighth-place standing in the Premier League, as the Europa League winner earns a place in the following season's Champions League.
Sturridge had a hand in all three goals. It was his effort turned in by Bruno in the seventh minute that brought Liverpool level on aggregate:
His finish in the 63rd minute, after a brilliant set up from Roberto Firmino, put Liverpool ahead:
Firmino wasn't done, turning in this piece of phenomenal skill by the end line to get free and set up another chance:
Firimino and Sturride then each had roles in Lallana's finish, with Firmino's cutback being touched forward by Sturridge, only for Lallana to flick it home:
Liverpool, whose Europa League run was kept alive by a miracle comeback vs. Borussia Dortmund, returns to action in league play on Sunday at home against Watford.