Unai Emery has admitted that Liverpool’s Luis Diaz caused his Villarreal side all sorts of issues last night.
Diaz proved the catalyst in helping Liverpool turn around a tepid opening 45 minutes in Spain. And speaking to Marca after the game, Emery said that Villarreal just couldn’t get to grips with the Colombian.
“We had Foyth do a job on Luis Diaz, but we couldn’t answer up,” he said. “With the 2-2 we have not been able to row. I don’t want to stay with the sensations of the first half. There are four and we were only better in one. We wanted more. We will continue at work.”
Diaz’s impact seemed to spook the Villarreal players who had looked invincible in the first-half. After Fabinho pulled Liverpool back into it, it was his point-blank header which put the tie beyond Emery’s men.
Diaz makes the difference
It says it all that Diaz was given the UEFA Man of the Match award at the Estadio de la Ceramica last night. The 25-year-old may have only played 45 minutes, but he was the most decisive player on the pitch.
With just six games of the season now left to play, it’s impossible to see how he hasn’t played his way into Jurgen Klopp’s starting eleven for the biggest games.
Not only is he enjoying greater influence than any of Liverpool’s other wide forwards at the moment, he’s also freeing up Sadio Mane to play through the middle.
It was assumed that Diaz’s arrival may push Mane down the pecking order. Instead, Liverpool’s number 10 has been revitalised whilst playing as a centre-forward.
Diogo Jota has had an exceptional season for The Reds. But since his ankle injury in February, he hasn’t looked quite the same player.
With three trophies now on the line, it may be that Jota becomes the unfortunate victim to Diaz’s late season successes.
It isn’t an exaggeration to say that Liverpool may not have been in the final but for Diaz. It’s time for Klopp to reward him with an undisputed starting berth for the bigger games to come.
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