Daniel Sturridge said that his goal in Liverpool’s 3-0 Europa League semifinal triumph over Villarreal on Thursday was a reward for his perseverance during a personally complicated season.
Injuries kept Sturridge on the sidelines in the early stages of manager Jurgen Klopp’s tenure and in Liverpool’s recent games in the competition, he found himself on the bench due to Klopp’s preference for Divock Origi.
But with Origi currently out due to an injury of his own, Sturridge seized his opportunity against Villarreal, scoring Liverpool’s second goal — which prompted an explosive celebration — and having a hand in their two other efforts as they completed a 3-1 aggregate win.
“There will always be ups and downs in football,” the England striker told BT Sport during an on-pitch interview at a raucous Anfield.
“It is about being prepared to put your body on the line and take chances. It is a great feeling.”
Adam Lallana, who stabbed home Liverpool’s third goal from Sturridge’s miscued shot in the 81st minute, said: “We knew it would be a difficult night. We knew they could get the away goal, but credit to the lads.
“The lads deserved to be in the final and hopefully we can win it. You have to show this competition respect and I feel we have done that.”
Having previously eliminated old foes Manchester United and Klopp’s former club Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool will tackle holders Sevilla in the final in the Swiss city of Basel on May 18.