Liverpool 3 Villarreal 0: Match review | The Anfield Wrap

“HE’S given it. He’s given it.”

“It was Lallana in the end.”

“He’s given it. It’s been given. And look at Kolo.”

Look at Kolo. Look at him. We’re on top of each other, shins burning. But look at Kolo. Telling them one at a time to focus. Telling them one at a time big five. Telling them one at a time there is still a job to do. The job to do.

But this. The best three-word sentence in the whole wide world anyone can ever say to you is this:

“He’s given it.”

If it is your side he has given it to. Love can be a passing thing but a contentious goal given in your favour, well, that lasts forever. He’s given it. It has been given. And Villarreal are left needing two when it looked like one hadn’t been in their interests and Liverpool are to all intents and purposes in a European final.

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Semi-Final 2nd Leg - Liverpool FC v Villarreal CF

They got there with a ton of panache. Undeserved panache in many ways. This isn’t a side that is steeped in European experience. But on this website, more than most others, we can say this: Walk it and talk it and work the rest out after. You can live a life like this, work a team out like this. Walk it and talk it. The rest will box itself.

Across 90 minutes Liverpool looked like lads who had done this a thousand times before. A show run. Emre Can and James Milner running it like it is just one of them. Like it is Sunday league stuff and it belongs to them.

There was this worry that the occasion wouldn’t match Borussia Dortmund and Manchester United and you know what? It didn’t. It just didn’t. There are occasions, and there are football matches you need to win to create occasions. This was one of the latter. Liverpool needed to create the occasion. They have done.

It’s a night where the spine deserve praise. Lovren and Kolo. The aforementioned centre mid. Firmino and Sturridge. The latter especially did moments very well. Scores one and forces the other two. It wasn’t pretty and he is a player we associate with pretty. Instead it was ball in the back of the net. Instead it was Liverpool in the final, not Villarreal.

Daniel Sturridge was so happy to score. So aggressively happy to have scored it was as though he had had treatment. When someone says that he doesn’t care, look at his face. Just look at his face. He wanted this so much.

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Semi-Final 2nd Leg - Liverpool FC v Villarreal CF
The ball is bundled across the line for the third and it is all over bar the shouting. Lallana claims it and the Reds know. But what happens next when we know he has given it is Kolo. All the Kolo.

The final whistle goes and Liverpool spill onto the pitch. There is this lovely moment where Klopp comes onto the pitch. He pumps his fists and the crowd goes mad. He does it again as the crowd buzzes for it, pulls for it. Beautifully, sheepishly, he does it one more time. He gilds the lily. He gilds it.

He’ll do well here, this lad. Gilding the lily is what we do, what this city does marvellously. We can’t look at a lily without gilding it. That is one of our things. One of the things which makes us unpopular. I love a gilded lily. God bless that gilding. God bless him enjoying it. You will do for me, sunshine. You will do for us I suspect. Do for us.

European Football - UEFA Europa League - Semi-Final 2nd Leg - Liverpool FC v Villarreal CF
We probably, across the course of the season, don’t deserve this. We haven’t been quite good enough for a cup final. This doesn’t matter though. It isn’t the way football works. You grab what you can. You go from there. Cup finals? Brilliant. All the best.

We have one. We’ve been good enough in key moments and if you’ve been paying attention then key moments are everything.

Europa League final. Great set of lads. A set of heroes. This is how it works. They become heroes by winning against Manchester United and winning against Borussia Dortmund and winning against Villarreal. They become heroes then. Adore them.

Up the gilded Reds.

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