Unai Emery has answered Rio Ferdinand’s question over Villarreal’s second half collapse against Liverpool.
The Yellow Submarine gave Liverpool the scare of their lives on Tuesday night, coming back from two goals down to draw level in the first half of the semi-final second leg clash.
But in the second half, not helped by huge errors from goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli, the game got away from Emery’s men.
Liverpool pulled off a three-goal comeback to book their place in Paris, while Villarreal’s rather remarkable Champions League campaign came to a close.
After the game, Emery was criticised by some, who suggested it may have been an intentional move on his part to reduce the intensity of the press.
And BT Sport pundit Ferdinand was one of those critics.
“That was an opportunity missed for Villarreal,” he said. Congratulations to Liverpool, deserved winners in the end. They were on the ropes but they were allowed to get themselves back together at half-time.
“Villarreal took their foot off the pedal, all their great work pressurising Liverpool, pinning them back, not giving them any time, but in the second half they played exactly how they played in the first leg and got demolished.
“I don’t know how they let them off, was it a conscious decision from Unai Emery? Did they make sure they had a breather? It killed them. Liverpool smelt blood and fair play to them they demolished this Villarreal team.”
But after the game, Emery explained the issue was caused by the energy lost from the first half and injury issues to lead striker Gerard Moreno, which meant the Yellows couldn’t press with intensity from the front.
“Today we needed something more,” Emery admitted, as per Villarreal USA.
“Defending strongly and for them not to position themselves. We found the goal, the penalty and they didn’t get close.
“The first half was hopeful. Gerard Moreno had discomfort again, but it was difficult for him to sprint and we lost strength.
“We weren’t the same anymore. We needed to have more of the ball, but their goal made too many demands on us mentally.
“We’ve run out of energy. Without the ability to respond to the demands of a tie against Liverpool.”