Liverpool 3-0 Villarreal: Five things we learned

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Anfield played host to yet another memorable European night as Liverpool torpedoed the Yellow Submarine leaving Villarreal shipwrecked and out of Europe's second-tier competition.

Goals from Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and an own goal from Bruno Soriano saw the Reds run out comprehensive 3-0 winners with Victor Ruiz also seeing red in the latter stages of the second half.

Jurgen Klopp's side were at their energetic best, pressing their opponents into endless mistakes and showing the kind of intensity that could have seen off the very best Europe has to offer. Here are five things we learned from what was a truly awesome display from Liverpool.


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1. Sturridge provides essential penetration

A highly debated decision from Klopp in the first leg was the German's decision to condemn Liverpool's most capable forward to the bench.

Sturridge, despite his injury woes, has proven this season that when he is out on the pitch he is without question the Reds' most potent attacking threat and as a result of his absence in the first leg, Liverpool were noticeably tame in forward areas.

However, in this match, Klopp wisely placed faith back in the prolific Englishman and the decision paid dividends. The striker was at his fearsome best with his trickery, pace, and penetrative style regularly torturing the Villarreal back-line, leading to numerous mistakes from the Spaniards.

His goal was a just reward for a fine performance and Sturridge highlighted once again that he is one of Europe's finest strikers. The Liverpool hierarchy would be wise to keep one of their prized assets happy as he has a vital role to play in the progression of the club.

2. Anfield atmosphere had a huge role in the production

In what was without question Liverpool's most important game of a somewhat underwhelming season, a lot of onus was placed on the fans to play a huge role in motivating their team. What they delivered was a masterclass in passion and support for their team.

From the moment the two sides entered the pitch, Anfield was rocking, not an empty seat could be spotted and the atmosphere created seemed to have a hugely positive influence on the performance level of all the players.

The fans acted almost as the conductors of an orchestra and the symphony created from it was a very impressive display from Liverpool. Villarreal were at the opposite side of the spectrum, their players appeared nervous in this environment and their performance mirrored this theory.

French goalkeeper Alphonse Areola, who has had a fantastic season in La Liga, was perhaps the most evident display of nerves and it seemed as if the 23-year-old simply fell foul to the pressure imposed by the fans.

3. Emre Can brought something different to the midfield

Can's reintroduction to midfield was something of a surprise after a fairly prolonged absence, but the young German stood up and delivered for Liverpool in a game where the midfield battle was crucial.

Lucas Leiva impressed in a different manner at the El Madrigal a week ago, protecting the back four religiously while rarely venturing forward or trying anything out of the ordinary.

However, with a goal the minimum requirement, Liverpool needed something different in midfield and Can brought exactly that. Tenacity, adventurous passing, energy and additional support offensively were all part of a sensational performance from the 22-year-old.

He and James Milner set the tempo from midfield, winning a crucial battle in the game. Bruno and Tomas Pina simply could not cope, with the former unable to show off his technical ability like he did so well in the first leg.

4. Dejan Lovren and Kolo Toure aren't a bad partnership

At the start of the season, you would have almost been subjected to laughter if you had quoted a partnership of Lovren and Toure producing an outstanding performance. Well last night, this fantasy came to fruition with the two centre-backs enjoying perhaps their finest 90 minutes at Liverpool.

The fearsome duo of Roberto Soldado and Cedric Bakambu were marshalled by the makeshift pairing, with the Spanish side unable to establish any regular attacking threat such was the dominance of the duo.

Lovren, in particular, showed his class and the Croatian has improved a great deal since Klopp's arrival. He was the leader the team needed from the back and Liverpool were able to build effectively off of a superb display.

35-year-old Toure showed that he still is a top defender on his day, building on his excellent first-leg performance and the levels of pressing the Ivorian showed throughout the game will no doubt have Klopp, with his 'gegenpressing' ideologies, drooling at the mouth.

5. Alberto Moreno may not possess a footballing brain

In a game where Liverpool showed hardly any weakness, there was one particular moment which was both humorous and showed Klopp's frustration with one of his players.

Moreno, who was at fault for Villarreal's injury time goal in Spain, put in another very erratic performance, regularly abandoning his post and roaming into the realms of uncertainty. Luckily his teammates bailed him out with their positioning but the manager was not happy.

Klopp almost pushed Lucas down the sidelines in order to give the Spanish left-back a very stern talking to and the German was clearly not best pleased with his player.

The former Sevilla man seems to lack discipline and regularly fails to perform the tasks set by his manager. It was quite a classic pitch side moment, but one that could be damning for Moreno's future under Klopp's rule.

Do you think Liverpool can defeat Sevilla and win the Europa League? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!

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Steven Gerrard
Emre Can
James Milner
Europa League
Daniel Sturridge
Philippe Coutinho

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