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Liverpool 3-3 Benfica: 5 talking points | UEFA Champions League quarter-final 2nd leg

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
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Sushan Chakraborty

Liverpool were held to a 3-3 draw by Benfica in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash at Anfield on Wednesday night (13 April).

Thanks to their 3-1 first-leg win in Portugal last Tuesday (5 April), Jurgen Klopp’s team progressed to the semi-finals with a 6-4 aggregate scoreline. The Reds will next take on La Liga outfit Villarreal home (27 April) and away (3 May) for a place in the Champions League final.

In front of a packed Anfield crowd, Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring via a header from a corner to put the Reds 1-0 up in the 21st minute. Eleven minutes later, Benfica restored parity, courtesy of Goncalo Ramos’ excellent strike.

Roberto Firmino hit a quick-fire brace (55th and 65th minutes) in the second half to give the Anfield outfit a seemingly unassailable 3-1 second-leg lead. Benfica, however, refused to throw in the towel and leveled the scoreline through goals from Roman Yaremchuk (73rd minute) and Darwin Nunez (81st minute).

Here are the top five talking points from Wednesday night’s nail-biting Champions League encounter at Anfield:


#5 Jurgen Klopp makes a plethora of changes to his starting XI

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

Encouraged by his team’s 3-1 win in the first leg, Jurgen Klopp took the risk of resting some of his key players in the second leg. Considering the Reds play Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals on Saturday afternoon (16 April), it was a risk worth taking.

Liverpool did not look exactly as sharp as they generally do, but they managed to put in an overall decent performance against the Portuguese giants.

▪️ Ibrahima Konate▪️ Naby Keita▪️ Roberto Firmino▪️ Luis Diaz Liverpool let set to ring the changes for their Champions League quarter-final second leg tonight ⬇️

Offensively, the Reds were ingenious as ever, carving open one opportunity after another. Defensively, however, they did not exactly wrap themselves in glory.

Klopp’s high defensive line was exploited time and again as Benfica made runs behind Liverpool’s defenders.

Without Virgil van Dijk leading the backline, the Reds always look a bit wobbly, and last night was no exception.


#4 Darwin Nunez shows what the hype is all about

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

Benfica striker Darwin Nunez scored his side’s only goal in their first-leg defeat last Tuesday. The young forward once again stepped up to the plate and scored a late equalizer in the second leg.

In the 82nd minute, the Uruguayan international made a darting run down the left and applied a deft, first-time finish when the ball fell his way.

The composure he showed to beat onrushing Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker was a thing of sheer beauty. He found the back of the net on a couple more occasions, but both were unfortunately ruled out for offside.

Jurgen Klopp on Benfica star Darwin Núñez: “An extremely good looking boy, eh? He is a really good boy”. 😄🇺🇾 #LFC“He played in front of me battling against Konate. He was calm for the finish. He is good, really good. If he stays healthy, he has a big career ahead of him”. https://t.co/NS0IsfI8u3

As per 90min, Manchester United are eager to make a move for the player in the summer. His performance against the Reds in the Champions League quarter-finals could force the Red Devils to dig deeper into their pockets if they are indeed serious about roping in Nunez.


#3 Benfica show grit and resilience at Anfield

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool thoroughly outclassed and outplayed Benfica in last week’s first leg in Portugal. Last night, they were expected to produce an even stronger performance, giving the roaring Reds at Anfield something to sing about. The Merseysiders did not exactly produce a stinker, but it was Benfica who snatched the headlines.

Having endured a 3-1 defeat at home, Benfica seemingly made it a point to make the Reds suffer in their own backyard. The Portuguese outfit were gritty, creative, and refused to surrender even when the Reds got themselves 3-1 up.

They kept coming at the six-time European champions and bagged two second-half goals through substitute Yaremchuk and their undisputed star-man Nunez.

Benfica level on the night! 😮⏰⚽️2⃣1⃣ Konaté ⏰⚽️3⃣2⃣ Gonçalo Ramos⏰⚽️5⃣5⃣ Firmino ⏰⚽️6⃣5⃣ Firmino ⏰⚽️7⃣3⃣ Yaremchuk ⏰⚽️8⃣2⃣ Núñez #UCL twitter.com/ChampionsLeagu… https://t.co/QvrzbYNHu6

Benfica ended the night with six shots (four on target) and three big chances, giving the traveling fans enough reason to be proud of their team.


#2 Tsimikas makes a solid case to become Liverpool’s first-choice left-back

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

The Reds’ first-choice left-back Andy Robertson is one of the best players in his position in the world right now. Displacing the Scotland international from Liverpool's starting XI is a monumental task, something very few full-backs in the world can fathom doing.

Last night, Konstantinos Tsimikas managed to make himself a part of the rather short and highly selective list.

Kostas Tsimikas created more chances (4) than any other player in the #UCL this evening, also providing two assists.It's always a Liverpool full-back. 😏 https://t.co/slq3mHqjMr

The Greece international was both calm and collected at the back and robust and dynamic going forward. His set-piece delivery was immaculate and led to Konate and Firmino’s well-taken goals, either side of half-time.

He also attempted two tackles, won 10 of his 14 duels, and played four key passes.

Overall, it was a mighty brilliant display from the 25-year-old, one that should earn him a few more appearances before the season runs out.


#1 Roberto Firmino produces the goods for Liverpool

Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League
Liverpool FC v SL Benfica Quarter Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

Resting Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, Klopp opted for an unusual front-three of Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino, and Luis Diaz. The trio constantly interchanged positions, making life difficult for the Benfica defenders.

Firmino, as usual, dropped deep from time to time to get a feel of the ball, but also managed to find himself in perfect positions to find the back of the net.

The Brazilian forward got the Merseyside giants' 2-1 ahead on the night in the 55th minute, applying the finishing touch to Jota’s excellent ball into the box. Surprisingly, no Benfica player picked out the No. 9’s run, making the goal rather straightforward for him.

20 - Roberto Firmino (20) has become the fourth @LFC player to score 20+ times for the club in the European Cup/Champions League, after Mohamed Salah (33), Sadio Mané (22) and Steven Gerrard (21). Dazzler.

He doubled his tally 10 minutes later, this time from Tsimikas’ brilliant free-kick. The Greek effortlessly found Firmino at the far post, who made no mistake turning the ball in with a first-time volley.

A top-drawer performance by the 30-year-old forward, who has scored 11 goals in 30 appearances across competitions this season.


Where does Mane rank in Paul Merson's 5 greatest Liverpool signings of the Klopp era? Click here

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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