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Friday, August 12, 2022

Liverpool thrash Benfica 3-1 in Champions League quarter-final tie

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Liverpool took control of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Benfica as they claimed a 3-1 win in Portugal.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side looked to be cruising into the last four after first-half goals from Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane gave them a deserved half-time lead.

However, Benfica were back in it when Darwin Nunez netted shortly after the restart, and they continued to threaten an equaliser before Luis Diaz wrapped things up in fortuitous fashion late on.

Read Also: Champions League Round 16: Liverpool tackles Inter, Bayern hosts Salzburg

The signs of the hosts’ potential were evident in an encouraging start that came about thanks in no small part to a fervent crowd at the Estadio da Luz.

A fast-paced early break from Rafa seemed to hint at how Benfica might trouble their opponents and Nunez soon followed suit to provide a low cross that deserved better support.

But Liverpool, too, were creating chances and eventually took one when Konate rose highest in space to head home an Andy Robertson corner.

That marked the start of utter domination from the visitors, who doubled their tally just past the half-hour mark when Diaz nodded down a beauty of a Trent Alexander-Arnold pass to hand Mane a tap-in.

Alexander-Arnold almost created another goal just before the break, an incredible pass on the turn putting in Mohamed Salah for a one-on-one that he should have done better with.

Given the one-sided nature of the first half, it did not feel like Liverpool would rue that miss, but it took just four minutes after the restart for Benfica to change the complexion of the game.

The visitors looked wide open even before Konate’s miscued back-post clearance allowed Nunez all the time in the world to side-foot home and ignite the atmosphere once more.

Nelson Verissimo’s men were subsequently transformed and went close again through a Nunez header before Everton shot straight at Alisson when he perhaps should have found a corner.

That flurry of opportunities prompted Klopp to look to his bench, Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota emerging all at once to try and settle things down.

The trio partially succeeded in their aim, although they were not capable of entirely negating Benfica’s threat on the break or silencing the cacophony that greeted their every burst forward.

However, unaided by any mistakes similar to that that allowed Nunez to score, the hosts failed to find a second goal.

And they were hit by a late sucker punch when a heavy deflection on a Naby Keita through-ball allowed Diaz to round Odisseas Vlachodimos and pass the ball home.

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