LIVERPOOL reached their first European final since 2007 as they made light work of Villarreal, with a resounding 3-0 victory on another magical night at Anfield.
The Reds ripped into Villarreal amid a febrile atmosphere in their first home game since a judge ruled that the 96 victims of the Hillsborough Disaster had been killed unlawfully, and the Spanish team were visibly unnerved.
Goalkeeper Alphonse Areola seemed especially nervous, with a trio of early boobs culminating in an own goal from captain Bruno Soriano, who turned the outstanding Roberto Firmino’s cross into the net under pressure from Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge claimed the second goal himself following more impressive work from perennial pest Firmino, who chested the ball down before taking out three defenders with a beautifully-controlled pass, after earlier sending Spurs flop Roberto Soldado down the shops with a sublime piece of skill.
As Villarreal became increasingly niggly, their night took a further downturn when defender Victor Ruiz was sent off for a second bookable offence, before Adam Lallana completed the rout after steering home a loose ball following a miscue by Sturridge.
Liverpool’s win also prevented a European monopoly by Spanish teams, as Sevilla trounced Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 in the night’s other semi-final for a 5-3 aggregate victory, which takes them to their third consecutive Europa League final.
The Andalucians will present a stern test for the Scousers in Basel on May 18, but if Pool can repeat this level of performance they need not fear anyone.