LIVERPOOL 3-3 BENFICA: MATCH REVIEW
Liverpool played out an entertaining 3-3 draw against Benfica last night, as they sealed their place in the semi finals of the Champions League. The Reds will now face Villareal for a place in the showpiece final. Here’s a review of the match.
You can find player ratings from the game here:
° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp made seven alterations to the side that drew at the Etihad on Sunday. Trent, Virgil, Robbo, Fabinho, Thiago, Sadio and Mo were all give a rest as Gomez, Ibou, Tsimikas, Naby, Millie, Bobby and Diaz all got a start.
It is some luxury to be able to rest more than half the team for a Champions League quarter final. With a trip to Wembley on Saturday to face City, it was a luxury the manager took full advantage of. Guardiola couldn’t rotate against Atleti so there could be a bit of an advantage gained there.
° Everton goes close. The first real chance of the game fell to Brazilian Everton, after a woeful Milner free kick led to a swift counter attack. The winger’s shot flashed just past the upright, with Alisson beaten despite flinging himself across. Benfica carried a threat going forward.
° Konaté scores again. It was a repeat of events in Lisbon last week as Ibou rose highest to power a header home from Tsimikas’ delivery. Great cross, great leap, great header. 1-0 on the night and 4-1 on aggregate. The tie was basically done by that point, or so it felt.
° Benfica equalise out of nowhere. Verissimo’s men got themselves back into the game after Milner inadvertently played the ball into Ramos’ path. The youngster whipped a powerful shot past Alisson to level up the scoreline on the night and restore confidence in their ranks.
° Reds still in command. There was no sense of panic after the equaliser. Liverpool still bossed possession and created a couple of decent openings with Diaz and Keita both going close. Bobby should have gone for goal with the keeper stranded but opted to pass ,ruining a good opportunity. It was pretty comfortable.
° Bobby makes it 2-1. Jota pounced on a goalkeeping error early in the second half as his mishit shot found Firmino free at the backpost for a simple tap in. That goal saw Bobby reach double figures for the season, with the assist being Jota’s third of the season.
° Another triple sub. The manager’s love of a triple substitution continued as he sent on Fabinho, Thiago and Salah for Jota, Henderson and Milner. What a position to be in when you can bring on three world class players just to hand them some minutes to keep them ticking over!
° Bobby at the brace. It was 3-1 after 65 minutes when Firmino ghosted in behind a static Benfica defence to tap home Tsimikas’ free kick delivery. It was another sensational ball by Kostas who notched his sixth assist of the season and was crowned Man of the Match.
Tsimikas vs Benfica (LFC rank):
• 103 touches (2nd)
• 100 tackle success rate
• 86% pass accuracy
• 56 passes completed
• 11 ball recoveries (2nd)
• 10 duels won (1st)
• 6 long balls attempted
• 3 long balls completed
• 5 fouls won (1st)
• 4 accurate crosses (1st)
• 4 chances created (1st)
• 2 tackles won (=1st)
• 2 successful dribbles (=2nd)
• 2 assists (1st)
• 1 aeriel duel won
• 1 big chance created (=1st)
° Diaz dazzles once more. Despite not scoring or providing an assist, Luis Diaz looked our best player till he was taken off for Mané in the 66th minute. He pressed hard out of possession and always looked dangerous when he got on the ball. He’s given the manager a real headache when choosing a lineup on Saturday.
° Benfica rally late on. To their credit the Eagles never gave up. The kept at it and got their reward late on when they punished the uneven high line Liverpool were keeping. Yaremchuk and the impressive Nunez got the goals to draw them level on the night. They were really sloppy goals to concede but that can happen.
It was a rotated backline and it was evident they weren’t on the same page when to stepping up to set the trap. Benfica took full advantage and earned themselves a respectable draw. It could have got hairy had Alisson not pulled off a top class save to prevent Nunez from making it 4-3.
° Reds cruise through. There was no jeopardy last night, even with Benfica pushing late on. It was a relaxed game with the Reds playing at half intensity. It turned into a goal-fest in the end and some squad players got valuable minutes in the legs. Key players were handed well earned rests as well.
° On to the semis. Unai Emery’s Villareal are the opponents in the last four. The Yellow Submarines have knocked out Juventus and Bayern Munich already this season and will be no pushovers. Unai Emery is built for knockout football, but then so is Jürgen. Tough tie but one the Reds will be confident of winning.
° What next? It’s a return to Wembley on Saturday for the semi finals of the FA Cup. It’s a rematch with Manchester City after the hugely entertaining draw at the Etihad last Sunday. Jürgen Klopp has guided the side to the League Cup trophy and now the Champions League and FA Cup semis.
The side also lies 1 point off top spot in the league with seven matches to go. This is the first time in the club’s illustrious history that we’ve made the last four of the UCL, FA Cup and League Cup in the same season. It is some campaign we are witnessing before our very eyes. We will be talking of this era in decades to come.
Enjoy it Reds.