Gerard Moreno: Villarreal should be proud of fighting spirit against Liverpool

Spanish side had levelled the tie at 2-2 before Liverpool clinched a place in Champions League final with three second-half goals

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Villarreal striker Gerard Moreno said his teammates can be "proud" of their performance against Liverpool, even though their bid to reach a first Champions League final ultimately fell short.

The Spanish side took a 2-0 lead at El Madrigal on Tuesday to level their semi-final tie through Boulaye Dia and Etienne Capoue - who was later sent off for two bookable offences.

But for 45 thrilling minutes, Villarreal played like a team on a mission and roared on by their faithful fans who were packed inside their modest stadium.

Yet it was a tale of two halves for a Liverpool team, who shook off a groggy display to return after the break and kill the tie off with three goals in a 12-minute spell to advance to their third European Cup final in five seasons with a 3-2 win and 5-2 aggregate success.

"Tonight is a night to be proud. The team believed until the end," an emotional Moreno told reporters.

"The first half was incredible, one of the best of the season. The match was put on the way we wanted, but physically the effort was noticeable and they are very good," the Villarreal forward added.

Villarreal had looked a shadow of themselves in the first leg at Anfield, but were a completely different team in Spain.

"We showed that we didn't arrive here for no reason," coach Unai Emery told reporters, disappointed that his team could not maintain the same rhythm after the break.

"We followed our plan, made an amazing first half but we ran out of gas in the second half. There was no more strength left to respond as they came out much better after the break."

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Moreno, who has missed a chunk of this season, including the first leg in England, due to injury was substituted early in the second half.

"We go out with our heads held high," he said.

"Our fans believed in us from the moment we arrived and we did our best to get to the final. People thought we weren't going to be able to get here. The word that best defines this team is pride."

Liverpool face the winners of the second semi-final, where Manchester City hold a slender 4-3 lead over Real Madrid, in the Paris final in May 28.

Updated: May 04, 2022, 8:56 AM