Though the away goals rule no longer applies, Liverpool gained a big advantage in their Champions League quarter-final against Benfica, winning 3-1 in the first leg.
Benfica 1-3 Liverpool
Champions League Quarter-Final First Leg, Estadio da Luz
April 5, 2022
Konate 17′ (assist – Robertson)
Mane 34′ (assist – Diaz)
Diaz 87′ (assist – Keita)
As hundreds of Liverpool supporters waited to get into the Estadio da Luz after the game had already kicked off, a fierce home crowd welcomed the yellow-kitted Reds to Lisbon.
The returning Naby Keita blasted at the ‘keeper, but Ibrahima Konate made no mistake with his effort, towering over every other player to head home an Andy Robertson corner for his first-ever Liverpool goal.
Benfica were ridiculously open against a free-flowing Liverpool side, with Keita and Thiago given the freedom of the midfield as they produced excellent displays.
When the hosts did have the ball they were sloppy with it, and one case from Adel Taarabt led to a ruthless move from the Reds that saw Luis Diaz head down Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s long ball for Mane to touch in for 2-0.
Expert defending from Konate and a sumptuous pass from Alexander-Arnold then set Salah on for a one-on-one, but the Egyptian, struggling for his elite fluency, could only hit the goalkeeper.
HT: Benfica 0-2 Liverpool
The pendulum swung straight after half-time, and it was a mistake from Konate that handed Benfica the goal to close the gap, with Darwin Nunez capitalising with a simple finish for 2-1.
Those changes – and particularly the boundless Firmino – managed to settle the tempo down in Liverpool’s favour, though Benfica still threatened on the break.
It was two of those kept on who clinched the result, though, with Keita able to surge through midfield and play it through for Diaz to round Odysseas Vlachodimos and make it 3-1 on the night.
It was a more difficult night in Lisbon than perhaps expected, but Liverpool will take the boost of their resounding lead into the weekend, where a trip to Man City awaits.
TIA Man of the Match: Naby Keita
Referee: Jesus Gil Manzano (ESP)
Benfica: Vlachodimos; Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo; Weigl, Taarabt (Meite 70′); Rafa, Ramos (Mario 86′), Everton (Yaremchuk 82′); Nunez
Subs not used: Leite, Seferovic, Goncalves, Lazaro, Radonjic, Dias, Almeida, Bernardo, Morato
Subs not used: Kelleher, Matip, Tsimikas, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Elliott, Minamino