Liverpool beat Benfica 3-1 in Lisbon on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, and took a step towards the Champions League semifinals.
With goals from Ibrahima Konaté (17), Sadio Mané (34) and Luis Díaz (88), the Reds they defeated Benfica, although the Portuguese put the visitors in a tight spot, especially after the goal by Uruguayan Darwin Núñez (49).
“This is not over, we have another great game next week,” Konaté declared after the game to the microphones of be in sports.
The Reds they jumped into the Estadio da Luz dominating, harassing from the first stages of the game the goal defended by the Greek-German Odisseas Vlachodimos. Mohamed Salah looked for the goal, first with a deflected shot after a backheel pass from Sadio Mané (9) and then with the Egyptian passing Naby Keita, who finished off the gloves of Vlachodimos (12).
We had to wait for a set piece action, so that a corner kick by Andy Robertson found the head of Konaté (1-0, 17) for the Frenchman to score his first goal as ‘Red’.
Liverpool did not let up, and a cross from Trent Alexander-Arnold found Luis Díaz in the area, and the Colombian put the ball at will to Mané to double the lead (2-0, 34). Salah was able to put the third just before the break but again the Greek goalkeeper stopped his attempt.
Going through the changing rooms felt better for the locals, who managed to filter a pass into the area, a priori easy to defend for the Liverpool defense, but which Konaté failed to clear, leaving the Uruguayan Darwin Núñez in the lead to score (2-1 , 49).
Núñez himself first (55), and Everton Sousa (60) came close to drawing Benfica.
“We got a little scared at the beginning of the second part,” Konaté confessed about those chaotic minutes.
Jurgen Klopp reacted from the bench and retired Salah and Mané, who have just met in World Cup qualifiers, and who could be key in Sunday’s game against Manchester City.
“Every player in that situation wants to score, and it’s clear that ‘Mo’ also wants to,” Klopp said of the changes. “It’s a tough period, the boys come back from Africa (World Cup qualifiers) and it’s really not easy. Lots of pressure. They have time to settle down, everything will be fine.”
Along with the two stars, the Spaniard Thiago Alcántara left the field of play, to make way for Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson. The move seemed to calm the match as it partially evaporated Benfica’s renewed momentum.
Without a clear dominant player and with chances from both teams, the minutes passed until Naby Keita found Luis Díaz, one of the ‘Reds’ most active players, with a pass, who took the opportunity to return a more comfortable advantage to his team with a decisive goal (3-1, 88).
“They fought for their lives. We opened the door a little for them”, analyzed Klopp. “We scored a third goal and I think everyone will agree that we could and should have scored more.”
This is Liverpool’s fifth consecutive away win in the Champions League, after achieving the full group stage and doing the same in the first leg of the quarter-final against Inter (2-0).
Before the second leg next Wednesday, Liverpool visits Manchester City on Sunday, in a decisive match for the English championship, which fulfilled its European victory by defeating Atlético de Madrid 1-0. (D)