Liverpool advanced to their third Champions League final in five seasons with a remarkable second-half comeback triumph over Villarreal.
After the break, Fabinho, Luis Diaz, and Sadio Mane all scored for the Reds, who advanced to the final in Paris, where they will face the winners of Real Madrid’s match against Manchester City on Wednesday.
Last week’s two-goal win over the Spanish team at Anfield, when Jurgen Klopp’s side was dominant from start to finish, made the Reds obvious favorites to reach the final. Nonetheless, they were rocked from the start as Villarreal got off to the fast start they required.
Boulaye Dia gave the home side the lead in the third minute when a cross from Pervis Estupinan found Etienne Capoue, who laid it on a plate for the Senegalese attacker to coolly reach the back of the goal.
With all of the first-half pressure coming from the home side, the Reds struggled to answer; Giovanni Lo Celso went down in the area under a challenge from Reds goalkeeper Alisson Becker, but play was waved on.
Villarreal equalized on aggregate moments later when former Arsenal player Francis Coquelin guided a header from Capoue’s cross past Alisson and into the net.
After the interval, though, the home side’s energy levels appeared to dip significantly, with Liverpool having far more possession and creating opportunities. Fabinho found space inside the area shortly after the hour mark, and his low shot flew through the legs of Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.
It was a goal that completely depressed the home crowd, and the rest of the game was all one-way traffic. Rulli again let the ball go through his legs in the second half, before the Argentine shot-stopper completed his hat-trick of errors by allowing the Reds to score a third.
Mane broke through on goal, and Rulli, who had raced out for no apparent reason, was beaten by Mane, who added the game-winning third goal.
Capoue, who assisted on both Villarreal goals, was sent off with five minutes remaining for a second yellow card, adding insult to injury for the home side.