Sturridge all smiles after returning to lead Liverpool into final


After being reinstated to the starting XI, Daniel Sturridge was a happy man as his goal helped Liverpool reach the Europa League final courtesy of a 3-0 victory over Villarreal on Thursday.

Sturridge has endured a tough time with injuries and was surprisingly left out of the first leg in Spain, an unused substitute in the 1-0 loss at El Madrigal last week.

With much debate as to whether Sturridge would start at Anfield, the England international was deployed up front and did not disappoint, scoring Liverpool's second goal of the night to put them up 2-1 on aggregate.

"There will always be ups and downs in football," Sturridge told BT Sport after completing the full match.

"It is about being prepared to put your body on the line and take chances. It is a great feeling."

The atmosphere at Anfield was always going to be big factor as Liverpool attempted to overturn the 1-0 first-leg deficit.

And Liverpool's press proved too much for Villarreal, with Sturridge and Adam Lallana scoring the crucial second-half goals after Bruno turned the ball into his own net in the seventh minute.

"That's what we do when we play here, that is what the manager emphasises," Sturridge replied when asked if Villarreal were not ready for Liverpool's intensity.

"We like to press and to be in the opposition's faces. That is our style and that is what we will continue to do."

Standing in the way of Liverpool and a fourth crown are two-time defending champions Sevilla, with the final to be played in Basel on May 18.

Lallana added: "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."