Allen confident Liverpool can overcome Villarreal

Joe Allen knows Villarreal's tactical game caught Liverpool out last week, but has no doubt the Anfield crowd will spur the Reds to the final on Thursday.

Joe Allen challenges Jonathan dos Santos during the first leg
Joe Allen challenges Jonathan dos Santos during the first leg ©Getty Images

Villarreal take a 1-0 lead to Anfield on Thursday and claimed an impressive derby win at the weekend, but Liverpool's confidence is sky-high after their remarkable resurrection last time out at home in the UEFA Europa League.

The noise that greeted Dejan Lovren's last-gasp winner against Borussia Dortmund three weeks ago still echoes round some corners of Anfield, despite the muffling effect of recent setbacks.

First-leg highlights: Villarreal's late winner
First-leg highlights: Villarreal's late winner

Adrián López's late goal gave Villarreal a precious 1-0 lead in last week's semi-final first leg, and an inexperienced Liverpool side lost 3-1 at Swansea on Sunday – the same day that the Yellow Submarine won 2-0 at near neighbours Valencia to seal fourth spot in the Liga. A significant boost for energy, confidence and morale, perhaps, but not significant enough to enable them to complete a two-legged victory at Anfield, according to midfielder Joe Allen.

"Villarreal will have their work cut out," he told UEFA.com. "There was an extremely fine line between us imposing our gameplan in the first leg and getting a 1-0 win ourselves, and the way the match actually turned out. On another night we'd have won, which would have been ideal. But I'm confident that we've got enough to win this second leg and put them out."

"It was a tough experience," the 26-year-old added of the first leg. "The tactical element was a big test for everyone in terms of coming up against a team which plays differently to what we are used to. Technically, they move the ball so well. Top Spanish teams tend to be possession-based – something we don't meet week in, week out in England."

Who is Cédric Bakambu?
Who is Cédric Bakambu?

Liverpool's failure to grab an away goal against a Villarreal side that have outscored them by eight goals so far in the competition could come back to haunt them. Allen, respectful as he is of the vision and skills of direct opponent Bruno Soriano, is certain that the Reds will draw strength from the Anfield crowd and surge into the UEFA Europa League final.

The Wales international reckons Liverpool need only a marginal improvement to overturn the tie. "As hard as it was to concede that goal, particularly so late, I really thought we all gave a good account of ourselves. Games like that are what you look forward to all career – big matches in a semi-final of a UEFA competition.

"We did our preparation well and we learned a great deal for the game at Anfield. If – and only if – we go through we'll be able to look back and, despite losing 1-0, say: 'We did a very good job in Spain.'"

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