Europa League - Semi-Final - 1st Leg
Villarreal1Liverpool0

Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool

Adrian Lopez of Villarreal
Liverpool will need at least three goals if Villarreal score at Anfield

Liverpool's ambitions of reaching their first European final in almost a decade suffered a blow as Villarreal netted an injury-time winner in the first leg.

After a first half of few chances, Cedric Bakambu's header clipped the Reds upright shortly after the break.

Liverpool went closest when Roberto Firmino's low shot hit the post.

The Reds looked set for a creditable draw in Spain until they switched off to allow substitute Adrian Lopez to tap in Denis Suarez's low cross.

Despite the dramatic winner, the Europa League semi-final still remains delicately poised before next Thursday's return leg at Anfield.

The winners will face either Spanish holders Sevilla or Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, who drew 2-2 in their first leg, in the Swiss city of Basel on 18 May.

Relive all the late drama from El Madrigal

Listen to BBC Radio 5 live commentary of the winning goal

Football Daily podcast: 'Klopp made a mistake'

Could late defensive lapse prove costly?

Liverpool have not reached a European final since losing to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League showpiece, but a stoic display at La Liga's fourth-placed team looked set to leave them a home win away from ending that barren run.

However, the Premier League side lost their defensive discipline in the final few seconds - and it could prove crucial.

Left-back Alberto Moreno wandered up field, leaving the space for former Manchester City youngster Suarez to exploit before squaring to Lopez for the easiest of finishes.

Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno
Moments before Villarreal's winner, Spain defender Moreno raced forward on the counter-attack and lashed wide

BBC Radio 5 live summariser and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson said: "Where did the left-back disappear to? Injury time at 0-0 in a Europa League semi-final - and he's probably 70 metres up the pitch.

"0-0 would have been a very good result. All of a sudden because of one aberration you're under pressure for the second leg."

Liverpool will have to score at least twice to go through in 90 minutes at Anfield, but Villarreal know an away goal would mean the Reds then need a minimum of three.

Reds lack attacking threat

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool side were installed as favourites to win Europe's secondary club competition after their thrilling quarter-final win against Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.

Publicly the 48-year-old German insists there has been no thought about the possibility of reaching the final - but winning the trophy will cap an encouraging debut season with a place in next season's Champions League.

His predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, named an inexperienced side in the Reds' opening two matches in the competition, but Klopp has chosen stronger teams since arriving in early October.

However, he decided to play without a recognised striker at Villarreal, leaving England international Daniel Sturridge on the bench throughout - and the Reds offered little attacking threat.

Wales midfielder Joe Allen wasted the best chance in a tight first half, side-footing straight at home keeper Sergio Asenjo early on.

Further opportunities were rare, although Brazil forward Firmino - playing as Liverpool's most advanced player - thumped an angled 12-yard drive against the base of the right post.

Villarreal pay Hillsborough tribute

Villarreal fans with banner paying tribute to Hillsborough victims
Villarreal fans in El Madrigal's South Stand held up the banner when the teams walked out

Liverpool were playing their first match since inquests concluded 96 Reds supporters who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.

Villarreal paid tribute to the victims by providing a banner - bearing the number 96 and Liverpool club slogan 'You'll Never Walk Alone' - for their fans to hold up before kick-off.

"We were very saddened by the Hillsborough tragedy and we planned events to show the solidarity and support which our club and our fans have with Liverpool and those who were affected," said the Spanish club.

'This race is not over'

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp:

"Of course I'm not too happy with the goal we conceded in the last second. Counter-attacking in the 92nd minute makes not much sense - but it is only the first leg.

"It is 1-0 and they have to come to Anfield where we know how strong we are. We had our moments, we defended really good. This race is not over.

"If we had enough players around the box it was no problem but they played this one chip ball over Kolo [Toure], I don't know where Alberto [Moreno] was in this moment but that was the only big mistake we made in this game and they scored with it."

Villarreal manager Marcelino:

"Until the final whistle you can score or concede a goal and this time we were lucky enough to score in the very last minute.

"We managed a good result but we don't know if it will be enough or not until the end of the tie.

"It was not an unfair result and we didn't beat Liverpool by being lucky."

Man of the match - Denis Suarez (Villarreal)

Liverpool lose late at Villarreal
Denis Suarez's prodigious talent caught the eye of Barcelona when they signed the then-teenager from Manchester City in 2013. And the 22-year-old winger, who joined Villarreal last summer, showed glimpses of his ability - including the alert run and calm pass for Lopez's winner

What's next?

Seventh-placed Liverpool return to Premier League action with a visit to 15th-placed Swansea on Sunday.

The Reds look unlikely to earn Champions League qualification through the Premier League, sitting nine points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with four matches left, although they do have a game in hand on the Gunners.

Villarreal are better positioned to earn La Liga's final qualifying spot, holding a four-point advantage over Celta Vigo with three matches remaining.

Line-ups

Villarreal

  • 1Asenjo
  • 2Pérez Martínez
  • 24BaillySubstituted forMusacchioat 76'minutes
  • 6Ruiz
  • 11Costa JordáBooked at 60mins
  • 8dos SantosSubstituted forCastillejo Azuagaat 72'minutes
  • 4Pina
  • 21Bruno
  • 18D Suárez
  • 9SoldadoSubstituted forAdriánat 74'minutes
  • 17Bakambu

Substitutes

  • 5Musacchio
  • 7García Sánchez
  • 13Areola
  • 14Trigueros Muñoz
  • 19Castillejo Azuaga
  • 20Adrián
  • 22Rukavina

Liverpool

  • 22Mignolet
  • 2Clyne
  • 6Lovren
  • 4K Touré
  • 18Moreno
  • 7Milner
  • 21Lucas
  • 24Allen
  • 20Lallana
  • 11FirminoSubstituted forBentekeat 90'minutes
  • 10CoutinhoSubstituted forIbeat 45'minutes

Substitutes

  • 9Benteke
  • 15Sturridge
  • 33Ibe
  • 37Skrtel
  • 44B Smith
  • 52Ward
  • 68Chirivella
Referee:
Damir Skomina
Attendance:
21,606

Match Stats

Home TeamVillarrealAway TeamLiverpool
Possession
Home46%
Away54%
Shots
Home9
Away15
Shots on Target
Home3
Away3
Corners
Home7
Away3
Fouls
Home7
Away7

Live Text

Match ends, Villarreal 1, Liverpool 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Villarreal 1, Liverpool 0.

Goal!

Goal! Villarreal 1, Liverpool 0. Adrián (Villarreal) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Denis Suárez.

Substitution

Substitution, Liverpool. Christian Benteke replaces Roberto Firmino.

Attempt missed. Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) left footed shot from the left side of the box is high and wide to the left.

Corner, Villarreal. Conceded by Dejan Lovren.

Corner, Villarreal. Conceded by Simon Mignolet.

Attempt saved. Cédric Bakambu (Villarreal) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Denis Suárez.

Attempt missed. Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box misses to the right. Assisted by Jordon Ibe with a cross.

Foul by Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Samu Castillejo (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Joe Allen (Liverpool).

Adrián (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Offside, Liverpool. Alberto Moreno tries a through ball, but Jordon Ibe is caught offside.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Substitution

Substitution, Villarreal. Mateo Musacchio replaces Eric Bailly because of an injury.

Delay in match Eric Bailly (Villarreal) because of an injury.

Offside, Liverpool. Joe Allen tries a through ball, but Adam Lallana is caught offside.

Substitution

Substitution, Villarreal. Adrián replaces Roberto Soldado because of an injury.

Offside, Liverpool. Kolo Touré tries a through ball, but Roberto Firmino is caught offside.

Alberto Moreno (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Roberto Soldado (Villarreal).

Substitution

Substitution, Villarreal. Samu Castillejo replaces Jonathan dos Santos.

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Roberto Soldado (Villarreal).

Dangerous play by Kolo Touré (Liverpool).

Roberto Soldado (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

Tomás Pina (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Attempt saved. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by James Milner with a through ball.

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

Delay in match Jaume Costa (Villarreal) because of an injury.

Attempt blocked. Adam Lallana (Liverpool) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

Booking

Jaume Costa (Villarreal) is shown the yellow card.

Foul by Lucas Leiva (Liverpool).

Roberto Soldado (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Mario (Villarreal) right footed shot from the right side of the box is too high. Assisted by Roberto Soldado.

Foul by Dejan Lovren (Liverpool).

Roberto Soldado (Villarreal) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt saved. Dejan Lovren (Liverpool) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Alberto Moreno.

goal

As It Stood

A

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Molde6321107311
2Fenerbahçe62317619
3Ajax61416607
4Celtic6033812-43

B

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Liverpool624064210
2FC Sion62315509
3Rubin Kazan61326606
4Bordeaux604257-24

C

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1FK Krasnodar641194513
2B Dortmund6312105510
3PAOK Salonika61413307
4FK Qabala6024212-102

D

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Napoli66002231918
2FC Midtjylland6213612-67
3Club Brugge6123411-75
4Legia Warsaw6114410-64

E

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rapid Vienna6501106415
2Villarreal6411126613
3Viktoria Plzen6114810-24
4Dinamo Minsk6105311-83

F

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Sporting Braga641174313
2Marseille6402127512
3Slovan Liberec621368-27
4FC Groningen602428-62

G

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Lazio6420136714
2Saint-Étienne623110739
3Dnipropetrovsk621368-27
4Rosenborg6024412-82

H

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Lokomotiv Moscow6321127511
2Sporting63121411310
3Besiktas62317619
4Skenderbeu6105413-93

I

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1FC Basel6411105513
2Fiorentina6312116510
3Lech Poznan612326-45
4Belenenses612328-65

J

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Tottenham6411126613
2Anderlecht631286210
3Monaco613259-46
4FK Qarabag611448-44

K

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Schalke64201531214
2Sparta Prague6330105512
3Asteras Tripolis6114412-84
4Apoel Nicosia6105312-93

L

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Ath Bilbao6411168813
2Augsburg6303121119
3Partizan Belgrade63031014-49
4AZ Alkmaar6114813-54
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