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Sunday, March 3, 2024

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Liverpool progress to Champions League semi-finals to set-up Villareal meeting

Liverpool drew with Benfica on the night but were still able to go through to yet another Champions League semi-final, their third under Jurgen Klopp, as they won 6-4 on aggregate.

The score line, which was 3-3, made the game sound much more hectic than it actually was.

It was more or less a stroll for Liverpool who were already 3-1 up on aggregate from the first leg until the 82nd minute when Benfica made it 3-3 on the night.

But Liverpool hung on with a two goal aggregate lead.

Goals from Ibrahim Konate and two from Roberto Firmino ensured their place in the semi-finals.

All of Benfica’s goals had to be checked for offside as Jurgen Klopp’s famous offside trap was finally beaten with VAR confirming that Goncalo Ramos, Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez were all just on.

Before the game there was a moments silence to remember the 97 people who lost their lives at Hillsborough in 1989.

May we never forget them.

Player ratings:

Alisson: 7

Made vital save to stop Benfica going 4-3 up on the night which would have made Anfield horrendously nervous.

Joe Gomez: 5

Volley straight at keeper in the first half as he looked to score his first ever goal. Kept Yaremchuk onside for Benfica’s second goal.

Joel Matip: 5

Can never be a good night for a defender when you concede three goals. Did not do too well playing the high line.

Ibrahim Konate: 6

Scored another fine header just like in the first leg to open the scoring. However, did concede three. Seemed like himself and Matip missed Virgil Van Dijk when trying to play the high line.

Kostas Tsimikas: 8

His set-piece deliveries are worthy of that fantastic ABBA song that the supporters have made for him. Was immense tonight.

Jordan Henderson: 5

Gave the ball away one too many times. When he went off though Liverpool were much more open.

James Milner: 5

Inadvertently played through Ramos for Benfica equaliser. Didn’t do too much wrong just couldn’t influence the game. Nice ball to play through Firmino for a big chance.

Naby Keita: 7

Played another really good efficient game. Came very close to scoring a fantastic fizzing effort on the edge of the box.

Diogo Jota: 6.5

Got the assist with a precise cross to find Firmino for the second goal. Caused some problems in the first half for the Benfica backline.

Roberto Firmino: 9

Scored two goals to make sure Liverpool got through. A tap-in and an unreal volley from a free-kick. Linked up play superbly well and has made a great shout to get the nod on Saturday against Manchester City.

Luis Diaz: 6

Fabulous quick feet all night and was unlucky to score a goal in the first half with a nonchalant body feint before unleashing a powerful effort which Odisseas Vlachodimos saved.

Substitutions:

Mohamed Salah (Diogo Jota 57): 6

Came very close to scoring a trademark curling effort on the edge of the box.

Fabinho (Jordan Henderson 57): 5

Tried to gain control of the midfield but Benfica cut through the middle one too many times when he got on the pitch.

Thiago Alcantara (James Milner 57): 5

Struggled to make any impact on the game which is not like him.

Sadio Mane (Luis Diaz 66): 4

Couldn’t get into the game as he had no efforts on goal. Salah nearly found him with a near identical pass to the one he made against Manchester City.

Divock Origi (Roberto Firmino 90): N/A

Touched the ball three times. Enough for the Anfield crowd to sing his name as reports are growing stronger that he will be leaving at the end of the season.

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