Top Winners and Losers After Wednesday's Champions League Semifinal Leg-1 Results

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVApril 27, 2022

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp (R) congratulates Liverpool's Brazilian midfielder Fabinho (C) and Liverpool's English defender Trent Alexander-Arnold (L) at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg football match between Liverpool and Villarreal, at the Anfield Stadium, in Liverpool, on April 27, 2022. - Liverpool beats Villarreal 2-0. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Ho-hum, another dominant win for Liverpool. 

The Reds took the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal against Villareal 2-0 behind a Pervis Estupinan own goal and a Sadio Mane tally. 

The win moved the Reds 90 minutes away from a potential all-Premier League UCL final after Manchester City defeated Real Madrid 4-3 on Tuesday. Below, we'll break down Wednesday's biggest winners and losers. 

Winner: Liverpool's Relentless Attack

No club in football is more irrepressible, more swarming and more ambitious in an opponent's final third than Liverpool. Villarreal, meanwhile, wants to muck up the game and steal something late. 

So it was a clash of styles Wednesday, and early in the second, half Liverpool's aggressive pressing finally won out with a pair of quick goals:

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

LIVERPOOL GET THE BREAKTHROUGH. 🔴 <a href="https://t.co/tK41GaKwQj">pic.twitter.com/tK41GaKwQj</a>

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

53': Liverpool 1-0 Villarreal<br>55': Liverpool 2-0 Villarreal<br><br>Two goals in two minutes. Liverpool are fired up. 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/AEek0qRKGP">pic.twitter.com/AEek0qRKGP</a>

Luis Garcia @luchogarcia14

It was about being patience, move quick the ball.After HT,instructions of switch the play quicker,to don't allow Villareal to be compact in one side, then, opportunities arrived.Fantastic game for <a href="https://twitter.com/LFC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LFC</a> .Never lost the composure, keept working and got a great result.LFC 2v0 VIL

Gary Lineker 💙💛 @GaryLineker

They’re such a good side are <a href="https://twitter.com/LFC?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LFC</a> that they make tricky encounters look fairly straightforward.

James Pearce @JamesPearceLFC

FT: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LFC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LFC</a> 2 Villarreal 0: Liverpool in the box seat ahead of next Tuesday's second leg in Spain. Really impressive, composed, mature European performance. Stayed patient and got their reward in the second half with Estupinan's own goal followed by Mane's finish. Half a job done.

Dermot Corrigan @dermotmcorrigan

Most impressive about Liverpool tonight is how quickly they win the ball back any time Villarreal get it.

The work isn't done, with the second leg to be played Tuesday. But nobody will expect the defensive Villarreal to erase a two-goal deficit against arguably the most talented side in Europe. 

Loser: Parking the Bus

On one hand, Unai Emery's Villareal didn't stand much of a chance in an open game against Liverpool's superior talent and smothering press, so playing a deep defensive block made sense. 

And for 45 minutes, it sort of worked, though only by a post.

CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ @CBSSportsGolazo

THIAGO. NEARLY. 💥 <a href="https://t.co/kNLTZLQpFv">pic.twitter.com/kNLTZLQpFv</a>

Maximiliano Bretos @MaxBretosSports

The Identity for Liverpool is they will outwork you and just want it more. I can't say that is what happened in first 45 at Anfield. Villareal defending everywhere and winning 50/50's. They are a nightmare to play against.

On the other hand, parking the bus and hoping to soak up 90 minutes of pressure in an attempt to escape with a scoreless draw before heading back to Spain was a tall task. Eventually, Villareal was punished for its failure to alleviate that pressure or offer much of a threat on the counter.  

Matt Jones @MattJFootball

Some effort from Emery to get this Villarreal squad this far when you see the names in there...but Liverpool were always going to be well beyond them tonight

The Spanish side was always going to be the prohibitive underdogs. Now, Emery's men need to find a way to generate some attacking threat of their own. Stay parked and Villarreal will be towed right on out of the competition. 

Winner: Liverpool's Quest for History

The Reds are one point behind Manchester City in the Premier League title race. They will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final. They already claimed the EFL Cup. And now they navigated a tricky first leg of the UCL semifinals against Villarreal, putting one foot into the final. 

If Liverpool could pull off the quadruple, it could make a strong case to be considered the best club side in the history of the sport. It would potentially mean beating City in the UCL final and outpacing the Citizens in a tight Premier League title race. And the Reds would have to beat the defending European champions, Chelsea, to win the FA Cup. 

Arlo White 💙 @arlowhite

There were previous Liverpool sides that dominated England and Europe and won a tonne of trophies, but is this team the best in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LFC?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LFC</a> history?

The Premier League has arguably never been stronger. Winning Europe is notoriously difficult. These Reds stand on the cusp of history.