Liverpool romped into the Europa League final with a 3-0 win over Villarreal on another magical night at Anfield to set up a showpiece clash with holders Sevilla who swatted away visiting Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 on Thursday.
Five times European champions Liverpool reached a 12th continental final thanks to an own goal from Bruno Soriano and further strikes from Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana to overturn a first-leg deficit and go through 3-1 on aggregate.
Villarreal were largely anonymous throughout and seemed to wilt in the face of a raucous atmosphere and early onslaught by the hosts, while their demise was hastened by a sending off for Victor Ruiz for a second booking after 71 minutes.
It was a superb evening for Sturridge, whose place in the starting lineup had been in doubt after he was left out of key recent fixtures, but he was instrumental in a one-sided victory that prevented Spanish dominance of Europe’s two major finals.
With Real Madrid and city rivals Atletico set to contest the Champions League showpiece, Sevilla ensured there would also be a Spanish team in the continent’s second-tier competition, while staying on course for a record third straight title.
They had Kevin Gameiro to thank for a comfortable 5-3 aggregate win over Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar with the France striker scoring twice and Mariano Ferreira grabbing a third to book Sevilla’s spot in the final in Basel on May 18.