Luis Diaz’s late goal puts Liverpool’s foot in the door of the Semis as they hold off Benfica #1436

Liverpool 3 Benfica 1FT

One of the dark horses in the Champions League takes center stage on Tuesday night for a Champions League Clash going up against one of the competition’s favorites. Benfica advanced to the quarterfinals following a tight net victory against Ajax in the round of 16 as the Portuguese side made an unlikely run to the quarterfinals. As Benfica earned the right to go up against the very best. Their opponent would be Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, one of the elite teams in European football. Jurgen Klopp has taken this team into two Champions League finals, winning one and losing another, and a Europa League final and a quarterfinal appearance last season. This is one of the toughest teams to play in all of Europe; they got past Inter Milan in the round of 16, and they would be ready for battle in Portugal against Benfica as Liverpool and Benfica would Clash horns at the Estadio de Luz with 59,000 in attendance for a Champions League quarterfinal against one of the dark horses and one of the favorites would Liverpool continue to drive themselves all the way to the Champions League final or does Benfica still have a little magic up their sleeves we would find out as the match would shortly kick-off in Portugal.

After preparations and predictions, the match got underway as things kicked off in the Champions League’s quarter-final. Liverpool is heavily favored to advance to the semifinals; as I mentioned, they are one of the favorites for the competition; it was going to take something spectacular for the Portuguese side to pull something off even in their own backyard. Liverpool, as expected, maintained control early. There was a great deal of ball possession attempting to intimidate the Benfica defense, trying to pin them back in their own box, heavily relying on the athletes they have on the outside; it did seem that would be their approach. In the fourth minute, Andrew Robertson from the right-wing found his footing before directing a cross into the box to finds a Naby Keita. It’s an exceptionally dangerous ball, but the header from Naby Keita doesn’t quite get it done. Although Liverpool didn’t score a right out of the gate, the pressure was being felt directly by that Benfica defense. Benfica needed to be at their best to coexist against Jurgen Klopp’s attacking Liverpool side. In the 9th minute, Sadio Mane put through Mohamed Salah, the Egyptian king, from a very close distance, was denied by the keeper as he made an important save. It was navigated again from point-blank range three minutes later, forcing the Benfica keeper into yet another save. Very concerning start for the Portuguese side, with Liverpool continuing to come forward and wreak havoc. Following Mohamed Salah seeing a strike from close range blocked by the defense, Thiago tried testing things from Deep but to no avail. Benfica was doing their best to try and keep Liverpool at some distance, but ultimately that was going to be a losing battle. In the 17th minute, coming off a corner kick, Andrew Robertson finds Konate getting his head on the end of it, beating the goalkeeper into the bottom corner as Liverpool took a 1–0 lead.

A rapid start for Liverpool as you see the Relentless play pay off. Benfica is doing their best to keep them separated, but they can only do so much as there was just a sense that the goal was coming. Benfica had hardly any of the ball, so they had to make their chances count when it arrived. In the 23rd minute, Benfica finally got their first chance of the game as Darwin Nunez supplied a headed pass towards Everton; the Brazilian international connected on a strike that was well hit as it coasted upwards a little high. In a blink of an eye, it looked like Liverpool would be in again when Naby Keita fleece the ball inside to Luis Diaz, the former Porto Striker, but to say it was made as he’s unable to score against his former rivals in that instance. For the majority of the first half, Liverpool had total control of the game however, there was a stretch at the end of the first half with things started going Benfica as the way a little bit. At least we’re able to put together a few Fair chances. Former Manchester City Center back Otamendi follow through on a header forcing Allison to react but misfiring once again. Liverpool hit back again, Luis Diaz with a headed pass attempting to set up sadio Mane; the Senegal International cashed in as Liverpool found the back of the net again Sadio Mane gave them a 2–0 lead. Three minutes later, Everton went for it again, this time from outside the box, hit with great power before Alisson collected it, stinging his hands in the process. Luis Diaz went for it again from outside the box, well hit, but not enough to double the lead. Right before the break Mohamed Salah from close range was put through by Trent Alexander Arnold huge opportunity for Liverpool to kill it off already, but fortunately, it didn’t end with a goal as he didn’t quite reach the target. Benfica replied just before the end of the first half Taarabt got Benfica on the counter-attack finding Rafa in a dangerous position but couldn’t find an equalizer as the first half came to a close with Konate and sadio Mane’s goal being the difference as Liverpool hold a 2–0 lead.

It was more or less what we expected from Liverpool as they were one of the favorites to win the Champions League. Going to Portugal to play Benfica wasn’t going to be an easy task, but with the potent attack that they have at their disposal both in the lineup and on the bench, they were able to overpower them, shown by the two-goal advantage. However, Benfica didn’t have that many opportunities due to the lack of possession however were dangerous and effective when they had their opportunities. Benfica was in a hole but still was 45 minutes to play, enough time to minimize the deficit. It didn’t take very long as Benfica managed to get the goal back almost immediately. In the 49th minute, Rafa sent a cross into the box mishandled by Konate falling into the lap of Darwin Nunez, beating Alisson Becker, giving them a lifeline minimizing the deficit as Liverpool now had just a 2–1 lead. Going back to Anfield even at this scoreline wasn’t enough, but then they were going to put up a fight against this high-powered pressing Jurgen Klopp Liverpool.

Benfica did string together a couple of chances after minimizing the deficit. 3 minutes later, Darwin Nunez went for goal again, this time from outside the box; his long-range effort couldn’t find the target, but it was clear that this Benfica team was energized and still hoped to find an equalizer. Three minutes later, Rafa found Darwin Nunez again, this time through the air as Nunez got his head on the end of it but hooked to the left. Five minutes later, in the 60th minute, what about a half hour to go, it was Everton who found space. Inside the box has, Benfica continued to fight for an equalizer, but Alisson Becker was there to make the save. Jurgen Klopp went to the bench bringing on Jordan Henderson for Thiago, Roberto firmino for sadio Mane, and Diego jota for Mohamed Salah. Mohamed Salah was not up to his typical standards, but it didn’t matter as Liverpool remained in front. It became a back-and-forth affair with Liverpool still in control, but Benfica was resilient and had the mentality to fight back. In the 82nd minute, Jordan Henderson found Luis Diaz with a cross but couldn’t increase the lead. Benfica would go to the bench as Yaremchuk would replace Everton for the final eight minutes. It genuinely looked like Benfica was going to go into the second leg with only one goal difference. Still, unfortunately, Liverpool found a third in the 87th-minute Naby Keita Supply through ball into the box for Luis Diaz, who made no mistake with a crafty finish to give Liverpool a 3–1 lead and Victory. They would play out a final couple of minutes at the full-time whistle. Liverpool comes away as winners with a two-goal advantage going into the second leg. Benfica did such a great job to fight back, but a late Liverpool goal most likely settles the tie has. Liverpool now has one foot in the door of the semi-final.

Liverpool showed what we already know; they are one of the favorites for the competition. The performance against Benfica justifies it a little further. Mostly because it was not their best performance, they completely dominated the opening 45 minutes; getting themselves two goals seems like they’re on a mission to kill off this matchup quickly. However, Mohamed Salah, the third-best player in the world, didn’t have his best game, nor did Liverpool. I’ve seen them dominate games in a much more convincing fashion, and considering the lopsidedness of the matchup, I thought Benfica would hold on as much as they could, but ultimately Liverpool would cruise to Victory. They did end up with a 3–1 victory. Still, it wasn’t near their best performance, and the fact that they handled that so well in Portugal against a hungry Benfica team chose their validity as a serious contender. I wouldn’t say it was an off-day, but Liverpool wasn’t at the standard that many expect them to be. That’s the scary thing about this Liverpool team at their best; they are truly terrifying Tuesday; they weren’t at their best, but they never really looked like they were going to give up that late. A rapid-fire start, but they managed to hold on to it all the way until the end, and getting a late Liverpool goal was just what we expected from them. It is all but over with a two-goal lead heading into Anfield, a challenging environment for Benfica to go into. Benfica never truly gave up fighting until the end, getting a go back, and there were opportunities after that to find an equalizer; the late goal is a little harsh on Benfica; they outplayed very well in the second half they can come away from their performance feeling prideful about how they performed against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool it’s not over till it’s over Benfica are going to go down. Still, they won’t go down without a fight. Liverpool must still stay focused on the task at hand, but with that late goal from Luis Diaz should have more last wrapped it up.

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