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Liverpool 3, Benfica 3 (Agg 6-4) - Match Recap: Villarreal Await in the Semifinal

We react to Liverpool’s Champions League win (on aggregate) against Benfica and give you a chance to vote for Man of the Match.

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Liverpool 3 - 3 Benfica

Reds: Konate 24’, Firmino 55’ 65’
Benfica: Ramos 32’, Yaremchuk 73’, Nunez 82’

Pre-Match

Jurgen Klopp makes a few big calls with his lineup, none bigger than keeping the big man—Virgil van Dijk—on the bench for this Champions League Quarterfinal. He also leaves out Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, Fabinho, Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Andy Robertson.

It might seem risky with so many changes, but equally Kloppo has a 2-goal cushion, playing at home, and with 5 subs.

There is a moment of silence for the 97 victims of the Hillsborough disaster. May they never be forgotten.

First Half

Luis Diaz starts on the right with Diogo Jota to the left and Firmino through the middle. Jota has been less than stellar off the right, but we have yet to see Diaz try his luck down the opposite flank. It’s an interesting wrinkle and one to watch as this match develops.

Benfica’s keeper looks a little shaken up after a coming together with Jota in the box. He appeared to take a knee to the head, and Jota, the absolute shithouse, appealed for a pen. Anyway, he’s staying on the pitch and I hope he’s not concussed.

GOAL! Two goals in two games against Benfica for Konaté! Liverpool win a corner and the young center ‘half rises high to head it home!

Goal. Definitely one “against the run of play” for the visitors. Benfica just manage to beat Liverpool’s offside trap, and it’s a great finish by Ramos.

Despite the equalizer, Liverpool appear to be the far better, and far more dangerous, side. The defensive line just switched off for a moment, which is perhaps understandable considering the changes to the side.

As the ref blows for the half, things are exactly where we left them at kickoff: Liverpool with a two-goal cushion and a foot in the semifinals. More of the same in the second half, and it’ll be another semifinal showdown with Villarreal.

Second Half

Liverpool started the half like they ended the last: completely in control of proceedings.

GOAL!! Is there anything more beautiful than a Bobby Firmino goal? Even a tap-in is a thing of beauty when Bobby is guiding it home. Jota lashes a shot/cross to the backpost and our Brazilian #9 is there to stick it away.

Klopp immediately makes three changes following the goal: Mo Salah for Jota, Fabinho for Henderson, and Thiago for Milner. If Benfica thought they had an uphill climb at halftime...

GOAL!! And Bobby makes it 3-1! Tsimikas sends in a brilliant free kick and Firmino times his run to perfection, volleying a first time finish past the keeper with ease. That was Tsimikas’ second assist of the match as well.

Another goal, another substitution, this time Sadio Mané comes on for Luis Diaz, and boy, Benfica’s night is not getting any easier.

Goal. Benfica pull one back. It’s initially given as offside, but Gomez appeared to keep him on after a VAR check. It was a bit surprising that Alisson wasn’t quicker off his line, but he might just be human after all.

Goal. Another VAR given goal after an initial offside. It’s Konate playing them on this time, so I guess it’s Matip’s turn next? Benfica equalize on the night but are still two goals behind on aggregate. Liverpool have understandably checked out, but it would be good to get the job well and truly done first.

Klopp makes one more change: bringing Bobby off for Divock Origi.

Final Whistle

That was fun! Sure, Liverpool gave up some sloppy goals, but there were under no real threat of elimination from the off. I know I’d much rather watch 10 goals across two legs than the solitary goal scored in the Man City-Atletico tie. And bonus: Liverpool was able to give some much needed rest to some key players ahead of the FA Cup semifinal.

Speaking of semifinals, Liverpool are in a third semifinal this season. Incredible stuff. Truly. And it’s the team that we last faced in the semifinal of the Europa League, Villarreal. The matchup shows just how far both clubs have come since that tie six years ago!

Poll

Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match against Benfica

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Luis Diaz
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Ibrahima Konaté
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Jordan Henderson
    (0 votes)
  • 57%
    Roberto Firmino
    (133 votes)
  • 37%
    Kostas Tsimikas
    (86 votes)
231 votes total Vote Now