Michael Owen, Rio Ferdinand react as Liverpool FC reach Champions League final
Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand both offer their thoughts as Liverpool FC secure their spot in the Champions League final by beating Villarreal 5-2 on aggregate
Michael Owen praised Liverpool FC for producing a remarkable second-half turnaround to book their spot in the Champions League final at the expense of Villarreal.
The Reds headed into the game with a 2-0 lead from last week’s first leg at Anfield, but Villarreal started brightly and took the lead in the fourth minute on Tuesday night through Boulaye Dia. Francis Coquelin then scored four minutes before half-time to level the tie on aggregate.
Liverpool FC had struggled to gain a foothold in the first half but the Reds improved massively after the break, with Fabinho netting from close range in the 62nd minute, and substitute Luis Diaz then made it 2-2 on the night with a header.
Sadio Mane then made it 3-2 to Liverpool FC and 5-2 on aggregate when he rounded goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli and fired home into the empty net.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool FC side will now play either Real Madrid or Manchester City in the final in Paris on 28 May.
Speaking immediately after the final whistle on BT Sport, former England star Owen praised the Reds for the way they performed in the second half.
Owen said: “The difference between the first and second half from both teams… They certainly earned it, they showed their class. I mean, they absolutely battered Villarreal in the second half.
“Tactically it was a very strange game. I’d love to know what Jurgen Klopp said differently at half-time. It was such a different second half and it was more like what we expected.”
Former Manchester United defender Ferdinand also congratulated Liverpool FC as they reached their third final of the season.
“That was an opportunity missed for Villarreal,” Ferdinand said. “Firstly, congratulations to Liverpool. Deserved winners in the end.
“They were on the ropes but they were allowed to get themselves together at half-time. Liverpool smelt blood, and credit to them, they were fantastic. Once they got their noses in front again, they demolished this Villarreal team.”
Meanwhile, ex-Liverpool FC striker Peter Crouch felt that the introduction of Diaz for Diogo Jota helped to change the game in the second half.
“He changed the game,” Crouch said of Diaz. “He was fantastic, the moment he came on, he was getting at players. A complete game-changer.”