Liverpool are all that stand in the way of utter Spanish dominance in club football. On Thursday, the Reds beat Villarreal 3-0 in the semis to advance to the Europa League final. Their opponents will be Sevilla.
Jürgen Klopp's men were hoping for a home boost from the Kop faithful, as they attempted to erase a 1-0 deficit from the away leg of their tie against Villarreal. Germany's Emre Can was back after injury to bolster the Reds.
Villarreal opened the match by getting a couple of good looks at goal, but it was the hosts who broke the ice. Roberto Firmino squared for Daniel Sturridge. He missed the ball completely, but it went in anyway off Bruno Soriano for an own goal.
The early advantage put the wind in the Reds' sails, and Klopp's men stepped up the pressure. Adam Lallana had a good chance, and a desperation clearance denied Can an open shot at goal from point-blank range.
Despite their fine start, Liverpool fans had reason for concern that their team hadn't added to the tally.
The Yellow Submarine, as Villarreal are ironically known, managed to get into the dressing rooms only one goal down.
Firmino to Sturridge redux
After the restart, Villarreal continued to restrict space and look for a counter-attack and a goal that would have handed them the reins in the tie. But again it was Liverpool finding their mark.
In minute 63, the omnipresent Firmino pounced upon a loose ball on the edge of the area and threaded a nicely weighted pass through for Sturridge. The Englishman's shot was no thing of beauty, but he did make contact with the ball this time, and it went in. Klopp's men had the second goal they needed.
And they had a man advantage as well when Victor Ruiz saw a second yellow card eight minutes later. Still the Submarine needed only one goal to surface in the Europa League final.
But the rest of the match was all Reds. Firmino tested the keeper with a vicious shot, and Adam Lallana sealed the result with a put-back in minute 82. Liverpool took the tie 3-1 on aggregate and booked a date in the final against yet another Spanish team.
Sevilla makes third final on the trot
In the other semifinal, Sevilla were bidding to become the first team ever to win the Europa League three times in a row. And they carried an advantage of a 2-2 away draw into their home tie against Shakhtar Donezk.
Kevin Gameiro staked the hosts to an early lead in minute nine. But Eduardo equalized for Shakhtar just before the interval. Sevilla put the match to bed, however, early in the second half. Gameiro notched his second goal, while defender Mariano took the score to 3-1 just before the hour mark.
The rest of the match was a mere formality. Sevilla progressed 5-3 on aggregate. They now meet Klopp and Liverpool in the final in St. Jakob-Park in Basel, Switzerland on May 18.