Liverpool’s ‘overlooked’ Jordan Henderson proves he’s among the club’s all-time best – David Maddock

LIVERPOOL 2-0 VILLARREAL: Jurgen Klopp’s side met stubborn opponents for the second time in a few days but clinched a win that puts them on the brink of the Champions League final

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Liverpool v Villarreal: match in pictures

In the two Champions League semi-finals, the level of talent on display perfectly illustrated the beauty of this great game.

De Bruyne and Benzema, Liverpool’s quicksilver frontrunners with their great movement and seamless interaction. It is an art form in all its wonderful glory. But there is also an ugly truth, as for every act of creation there is an act of destruction, as illustrated almost perfectly by Villarreal for almost an hour here at Anfield. And in times like these, sometimes it takes a little more than artistry to make the difference.

Step forward Jordan Henderson. He is so often overlooked in Liverpool’s Hall of Fame, occasionally spurned. For years he has fought against his craft label, which has been unfairly branded as a water carrier.

The captain is so much more than that. He’s a leader, plain and simple, as great a captain as the best you’ve seen around here… alongside Emlyn Hughes, Graeme Souness, Alan Hansen for the influence he has. And here, on a night when his side needed that guidance more than ever, he was there, cajoling and urging, yelling at the referee, his own teammates and anyone who would listen.

He was everywhere, putting so much pressure on Villarreal that you could see panic spreading on their side. Even in the first half, when they stayed determined and organized in the face of a Liverpool attack, some defenders were shocked at the sheer intensity of it all.

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Jordan Henderson was the driving force behind Liverpool’s first-leg win over Villarreal


(Getty Images)

Henderson was almost given a free role to wreak havoc by pressing with abandon, and he did a great job, never letting visitors breathe. But he’s more than that, he creates chances with his intelligent movement and crisp passing game.

It was fitting, therefore, that he should be behind the first goal that finally broke open that determined Spanish side who gave the Reds a sense of déjà vu from Everton’s visit at the weekend. Yes, it was an own goal, but without Henderson’s running, without his willingness to keep his energy levels so high, to keep the intensity at such insane levels, the goal wouldn’t have come.

It opened the floodgates and we next saw the sheer beauty of Liverpool’s front three, with Mane again showing that as a number 9 he actually has few peers with his movement. However, they needed Henderson to force that opening, just as Liverpool need him for all of their stars as the true leader of the men.

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