Liverpool had a moment of luck for their first goal, which saw Jordan Henderson’s cross deflected by Villarreal left-back Pervis Estupinan – with goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli left with no chance in the 53rd minute of the game.
Jurgen Klopp’s side smelt blood and grabbed a second in the 55th minute of the game, courtesy of a well-worked goal that saw Mohamed Salah progress the ball and slide it through to Sadio Mane who brushed it past Rulli, with Villarreal thoroughly out-played.
Liverpool unsurprisingly dominated possession and picked away at Unai Emery’s side, though one player massively stood out besides goalscorer Mane and allowed them to tick over in midfield. That player was Thiago Alcantara.
The Spaniard registered the most touches with a whopping 119 and passed his way through Villarreal, with his class shining through in a game that saw him complete 99 passes from 103 attempts – leaving him with a mesmeric 96% pass accuracy.
Liverpool were far too good. Mane may have grabbed the obvious plaudits for his impressive performance that saw him bag the second goal, and so too did Salah for his intricate assist for the second.
Though it was Thiago who acted as the metronome in the 2-0 win, oozing class and consistently penetrating the Villarreal block with his nine long balls that the Spaniard hit with, you guessed it, 100% accuracy.
It was a masterclass performance from Thiago, who will no doubt be a key figure for the Reds in the second leg.