Champions League: Liverpool survive crash vs Benfica to reach semi-finals

04 May 2022 | 08:16 | Football

Jurgen Klopp admits he is relieved to see Liverpool booked a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal as the winning quartet survived a late collapse in Wednesday’s 3-3 draw against Benfica. Klopp’s side have had one foot in their last four after winning 3-1 in the quarter-final first leg in Lisbon. They controlled the course for long in the second leg at Anfield, but had to keep their nerve before leading 6-4 on aggregate after an unusual game in the late stages.

Ibrahima Konate put Liverpool ahead when Goncalo Ramos equalized late in the first half.

When Roberto Firmino scored twice after that period, the game was over.

However, Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez scored for Benfica briefly giving the visitors hope of an incredible escape, before Liverpool finally restored order.

“As I wasn’t fully recovered from reaching the Champions League semi-finals, something really wasn’t right and maybe I should just give up!” Klopp said.

“The situation is that the defense has never played together and it’s about details, 100 per cent concentration.

“We went 6-2 on aggregate. The players are human, they were like ‘OK job done’. But Benfica kept fighting and I respect that.

“It wasn’t exactly what we wanted but it didn’t matter at all. We got through and that’s all that matters. I’m really happy.”

The Red Devils will face Spain’s Villarreal in the semi-finals as they want to reach their 10th Champions League final and claim their seventh title in the competition.

Despite Villarreal’s impressive victories over Bayern Munich and Juventus in the last two rounds, Liverpool will be solid contenders to reach their third Champions League final in the past five seasons.

“Defeating Juventus and Bayern Munich, they deserve to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League. Unai Emery is king of trophies, it’s unbelievable what he’s doing. But give me a moment to prepare. be careful”. Klopp said.

Liverpool are one point behind Premier League leaders Manchester City after Sunday’s draw against title rivals.

In the midst of a race that will define Liverpool’s season, Klopp has been able to keep Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk starting with his stars on the bench ahead of the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Saturday.

– Firmino stars –

Konate headed the opener in the first leg against Benfica and the towering Liverpool centre-back tormented the Portuguese side with his aerial prowess once again in the 21st minute.

Kostas Tsimikas kicks in a corner that falls to Konate and he goes above three Benfica players to head into the far corner from 10 yards.

Benfica got the equalizer in the 32nd minute.

Diogo Goncalves’ cross cut past James Milner and ran past Ramos, who had a fine finish past Alisson from inside the box.

All hopes of a great Benfica fight seemed over when the visitors shot themselves in the foot in a savage tackle after 55 minutes.

Odysseas goalkeeper Vlachodimos was the cause of Benfica’s discomfort as he fumbled with what should have been easy to intercept Naby Keita’s excessive pass.

Jan Vertonghen’s attempt to save was no better and Jota passed back into the six-yard box, where Firmino performed the simple task of shooting into an empty net.

Firmino after his first Champions League home goal in two years with 10 minutes later.

Tsimikas takes a great free-kick to catch the pass and Firmino avoids Benfica’s sloppy catch to volley from close range.

When Klopp’s students saved gas, Yaremchuk attacked in the 73rd minute, helping Alisson to cross the edge of the box after overcoming Liverpool’s offside trap.

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There was a breath of fresh air around Anfield when Nunez scored with a tricky finish in the 82nd minute.

Moments later, Nunez’s low strike tested Alisson, but Liverpool kept holding on to their four-man dream.

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