After snatching an unlikely victory in the final minute of play at El Madrigal last Thursday, Villarreal CF may be to travelling to Anfield tomorrow for the return leg of their Europa League semi-final with Liverpool firmly in the driver’s seat, but they’ll be well aware that they’ve still got a hill to climb if they want to book a place in the final.
“Villarreal will have their work cut out,” Reds midfielder Joe Allen told UEFA’s official website. “On another night we would have won [the first leg], which would have been ideal. But I’m confident that we have got enough to win this second leg and put them out,” explained the Welshman. “We did our preparation well and we learned a great deal for the game at Anfield. If – and only if – we go through, we’ll be able to look back and, despite losing 1-0, say we did a very good job in Spain.”
A quick counter-attack in the last minute of stoppage time saw Adrian Lopez, brought on from the bench, tap in Denis Suarez’s low cross to give the Yellow Submarine the advantage going in to the return fixture and hand Liverpool their only defeat to date in Europe this season. Victory in their first meeting is certainly a boon to their cause, but the job is far from over with 90-minutes at Anfield — which has inspired more than one fight back in its time — looming large.
“We know when the fans are behind us, it’s so much easier,” Liverpool ‘keeper Simon Mignolet told the club’s website. “At home there’s always something possible, a European night at Anfield. We showed it against Manchester United and Dortmund this year, and over the years there have been so many great fixtures in Europe at Anfield,” enthused the Belgian shot-stopper. “We’re obviously confident that it’s still possible but we have to stay calm and as players focus on our jobs, to play at our best to try and get through. That’s what everyone wants in the dressing room – everybody in Liverpool – to go to the final.”