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Liverpool flop Aspas aims to silence Old Trafford

Premier League

GALICIA, Spain - Iago Aspas doesn’t much like the fact that the enduring image of him in England is that awful corner against Chelsea in the game that killed off Liverpool’s title hopes in 2014.

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Iago Aspas celebrates after scoring against Shakhtar Donetsk in the Europa League. Photo: Reuters/Valentyn Ogirenko

The infamous kick came as Liverpool were chasing the game. It needed to go into the danger area but it went straight to Willlan on the edge of the box, leaving his team-mates exasperated.

"It was a great season for Liverpool - I just wish I could have played a bigger part," Aspas says at Celta Vigo’s misty training ground high up in the Galician hills.

"The corner is the last memory they have of me, but football always gives you another chance. Let’s hope the new lasting memory of me in England is knocking Manchester United out of Europe, for the sake of Celta Vigo, and for the happiness it would bring to Liverpool supporters, too."

Putting Celta Vigo in their first European final would be some achievement and he is right that denying Manchester United a place in next season’s Champions League would go down well on Merseyside.

Aspas did play at Old Trafford as a 90th-minute substitute in a 3-0 win during his solitary season at Liverpool.

Steven Gerrard and Luis Suarez scored and it was the attacking threat of those two plus Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge that left little room for Aspas. "It didn’t annoy me — I understood that I couldn’t play with them at that level," he says.

Yet perhaps he was never going to settle outside Spain. He laughs when reminded of a Spanish radio broadcast he did after his first pre-season at Liverpool when he revealed that he had not extended his vocabulary beyond a few English swear words that he blurted out on air much to the amusement of the Spanish audience.

He was also fond of a mid-afternoon nap, but siestas don’t really work in British wintertime.

"I would have a siesta, and when I woke up it would be night time. At 3.30pm in the winter, it was already dark," he recalls.

Now back in Spain, he feels right at home at Celta Vigo, the club he has served as a fan, player and even ball-boy in their 2004 Champions League campaign when they were knocked out by Arsenal.

They will be 90 minutes from a Champions League place if they can come back from a 1-0 first-leg defeat against United.

"We have to play with no fear," he says. "Only a win will do, so we have to go for it. I don’t have to prove anything in England because I went there with Spain and scored at Wembley (in last November’s 2-2 draw versus England), but to score in this game would be a dream come true."

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