Former Manchester City man Nigel de Jong labelled one Liverpool player a ‘baller’ for his display against Villarreal last night. Luis Diaz made a huge difference.
Liverpool are into the UEFA Champions League final once again but it wasn’t exactly routine. Perhaps it should have been – the Reds carried a 2-0 lead into the second leg against Villarreal, after all.
But the Spaniards pulled a goal back inside the first four minutes and found an equaliser before half-time. That sent the Reds into the break with their first leg entirely undone. It was time to start from scratch once again.
Jurgen Klopp clearly saw things that way. He made a brave half-time substitution, taking off Diogo Jota for Luis Diaz and moving Sadio Mané centrally. More than that, Liverpool quite visibly had more aggression in the second half, forcing Villarreal back and controlling possession far better.
Mohamed Salah supplied Fabinho for Liverpool’s first goal, Diaz found a second and Mané grabbed a third, all in a 12-minute spell that won the tie. And coming out of that, many pundits had praise for Diaz, in particular.
Liverpool’s Luis Diaz earns praise vs Villarreal
Diaz was electric on the left flank after coming on. He consistently ran at defenders, playing a big role in getting Liverpool up the pitch. His energy constantly found chances, too, and the Colombian could have scored even before his goal.
In terms of individuals, he was undoubtedly the game-changer here. That’s certainly the opinion of former Manchester City midfielder Nigel de Jong.
“Say it again,” De Jong wrote on Twitter. “Luiz Diaz is an absolute bargain in today’s market.
“Changed the game with his energy. Baller.”
It was another fine example of how well Diaz has fit in at Liverpool. James Milner apparently said it’s been easy for him since the first few seconds in training, in fact.
He feels like a bargain right now and, perhaps, he’s forced his way into the XI for the Champions League final.