'Booked our ticket to Paris' - players on reaching UCL final

Reaction'Booked our ticket to Paris' - players on reaching UCL final

Published 3rd May 2022
By Chris Shaw and Joe Urquhart

Read reaction from the Liverpool dressing room after they reached a third Champions League final in five seasons.

Villarreal 2-3 Liverpool: Highlights

A 3-2 comeback win at Villarreal on Tuesday night booked the Reds’ ticket to the showpiece in Paris later this month, with goals from Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane securing a massive result at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Post-match, several players spoke immediately to BT Sport about the emotions of the occasion and a hard-fought challenge against the La Liga team…

Trent Alexander-Arnold

On it being a difficult night…

We never tend to make these Champions League semis easy for ourselves. Thinking back to Roma away, Barça at home and now here. It was very difficult. They played very well first half. We regrouped at half-time and grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and did what we needed to do.

On a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ performance from Liverpool…

It was difficult for us first half. We expected it, but sometimes you can’t control the game how you want to. They started the game very well, scored early doors, which is obviously what they wanted to do. But we got the game done and booked our ticket to Paris.

Champions League final fixture details
3rd May 2022

NewsChampions League final fixture detailsLiverpool will contest the Champions League final against Manchester City or Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday May 28.

On what was said at half-time…

We needed to play the way we wanted to play. We never played football in the first half, we never picked up any of the second balls. They kind of played the game they wanted to and we allowed them to do that. It was difficult for us, we didn’t play any football. Second half, we came out, we played the way we needed to play, controlled the game a lot better. One bad half for us over the two legs, we can concede that as long as we got the job done – and that’s what we did today.

On waiting to see if they will face Real Madrid or Manchester City…

It’s always nice to get the job done on the Tuesday. We can watch the game tomorrow knowing we’re going to be there. I’m sure it will be a good game, if it goes by what we saw last week we’re in for another amazing game. Either opponent deserves to get to the final so it’s exciting to see who we get.

Fabinho

On having the worst possible start with a third-minute concession…

Yes, they gave everything in the first half. We knew the first minutes would be really important in this game, but they scored really early. This gave them confidence, their fans felt it so they supported them, they were cheering them. It was a hard first half for us – maybe their best first half in the season. But as a big team, you know you have to be ready for everything, you have to try to play football and after our first goal I think we controlled the game. We scored three goals, could have scored four. We’re in the final.

On the importance of his goal, which started the comeback…

When I received the ball from Mo Salah my first thought was to pass the ball. But I thought Sadio was offside so I decided to shoot – I think it was the best option! I was really happy with the goal.

Virgil van Dijk

On his emotions post-match…

[It was] hard work. The first half we should forget as soon as possible, in all kind of ways. Aggression on the ball, we weren’t good enough. Obviously the early goal didn’t help us and helped them massively. We had to dig deep, we had to be very mature. And obviously second half, we played outstanding I think; on the ball, without the ball, winning the ball back as quickly as possible. Then it’s going to be difficult for them to keep up with the press, with the runs. Well-deserved win based on the second half; first half, of course, it could have been different.

On Diaz’s impact from the bench...

Yeah, incredible. The way he goes one-v-one, it doesn’t really matter who he is facing he will just go at you without any fear or anything. If he loses the ball, he gets the ball back as quick as possible and goes again. That is very difficult to defend. We have this momentum at the moment in the team, that’s great. Now we go to Paris.

On whether the squad can enjoy the moment with so many games...

You have to. We played a tough game at Newcastle where the fans were behind them, especially at the beginning. We silenced the crowd. Obviously, this is a totally different scenario because they play, basically, without anything to lose. This, for them, is the biggest game in the history of the club. So, of course, they’re going to go the extra yard. But we should enjoy the moment today [and] tonight and then focus on Spurs at the weekend.

On whether any thoughts of achieving the quadruple have entered his head...

If you listen to all of us, and if you listen to the manager, then it’s pretty obvious that we don’t think about these things. It’s really like that. Listen, you can dream, but you have to be realistic. In this case, tonight we could’ve been knocked out – so, that’s football as well, small margins. But we’re in the final, we’ll play the final to hopefully win it. It will be a fantastic day out again with our fans, something I am very looking forward to. We’ll see. We have a tough game in the FA Cup final against Chelsea but it’s something we should enjoy. For me, personally, around this time last year I wasn’t even close to playing and now I’m in two finals and have the Carabao Cup.

Mohamed Salah

On the feeling in the LFC dressing room…

It’s great to be in the final for the third time in five years, it’s unbelievable. Everybody is happy inside. I’m sure we’re going to celebrate but we have a game [at the weekend] so we have to focus on it as well. So we celebrate today, tomorrow is a new day and we just go from there.

On the quality of the team to fight back from 2-0 down on the night…

It was tough in the first half but then we went to the dressing room and the gaffer started to talk and we talked to each other as well. That shows the character and personality in the dressing room, it shows we are a top team, we are top-level. That’s why we can strike back after losing 2-0 in the first half, playing away. It makes the win more exciting.

On whether he sets himself goal and assist targets each season…

Always. Before the season starts I know what I want from the season individually and collectively, for sure. The collective is the most important thing and the first target for the season as well. I have big expectations for myself. Honestly, I never said it before but before the season starts, I was like, ‘OK, I’ll go for 40 goals a season and 10 assists, 15 assists.’ So I now reached the assists before getting the goals!

Published 3rd May 2022