Vila-real (Spain), April 29 (IANS) Substitute Adrian Lopez scored at the death to help Villarreal end Liverpool’s unbeaten run in this season’s Europa League football tournament with a 1-0 win in the first leg of the semi-final clash.
Deep into added time, Bruno Soriano fed Denis Suarez who sped past the exposed Kolo Toure and, as the goal opened up, squared for Lopez to pass into the net here on Thursday.
The livelier side to start with, Liverpool’s best opening of the first half fell to midfielder Joe Allen, who planted a shot at Sergio Asenjo in the fifth minute.
Villarreal warmed to their task gradually; Roberto Soldado shied one across the face of goal, and Tomas Pina drew a save from Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Alberto Moreno then blocked a Mario Gaspar shot and Soldado bent another one outside the post.
Cedric Bakambu headed against the outside of a post from a corner just after the restart, and Gaspar whipped a shot over the bar as Villarreal’s quick feet bamboozled Liverpool again.
Defending deep and breaking fast, Villarreal drained Liverpool of much of their menace, but Asenjo rescued them in extremis on 65 minutes, pushing Roberto Firmino’s low shot on to his left-hand upright.
Bakambu might have won it on 87 minutes as the Liverpool defence momentarily opened up, but Mignolet saved superbly.