Beautiful Virgin Islands

Tuesday, Feb 20, 2024

Liverpool to face Villarreal in semi-final after thrilling draw with Benfica

Liverpool reached the last four of the Champions League after an entertaining 3-3 draw with Benfica in the second leg of the quarter-final at Anfield
Benfica salvaged pride at Anfield whereas Liverpool preserved dreams of a seventh European crown and unprecedented quadruple. Jürgen Klopp will consider it a decent exchange.

There was humility to Liverpool’s exit after the final whistle in comparison to jubilant scenes among Benfica fans who serenaded the classy Darwin Núñez and co following their late, VAR-shaped recovery.

Perhaps the lapses in concentration when comfortably ahead were playing on Liverpool minds, or the knowledge they must go again in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City on Saturday, but they had cause for celebration regardless.

A Champions League semi-final against Villarreal awaits Liverpool following a fluctuating contest when a header from Ibrahima Konaté and a brace from Roberto Firmino extended the comfort of their 3-1 first leg lead. Benfica fought back from 3-1 down on the night courtesy of two late goals that were disallowed for offside before being awarded by VAR.

Núñez also had two other goals ruled out for offside. Their efforts were in vain. Liverpool march on to a 12th European Cup/Champions League semi-final, equalling Manchester United’s record for an English club, and remain confidently on course for a third Champions League final in five seasons under Klopp. On the two previous occasions Liverpool defeated Benfica in the quarter-finals – 1978 and 1984 – they went on to lift the trophy.

Klopp is more concerned by practicalities than omens and made seven changes from the team that started Sunday’s draw at City on the basis the quarter-final second leg demanded the “freshest legs”. His schedule necessitates rotation but there was no doubt the team sheet will have raised Benfica’s hopes before kick off. They were only ever slender hopes. This was Liverpool’s 200th European game at Anfield.

Only seven of the previous 199 had ended in a loss of two goals or more.

There was a minute’s silence before the game in memory of the 97 Liverpool fans who were unlawfully killed at Hillsborough 33 years ago this Friday. It would be nice to report that it was impeccably observed but a few moronic individuals in the Benfica section, ignoring the “shushes” that came from the majority around them, decided otherwise.

With Mohamed Salah rested on the bench for the first time in a Champions League game this season Klopp tasked Luis Díaz with troubling Benfica from the right. The former Porto winger again impressed against his old rivals, with his pace, touch and direct movement a constant thorn in the visitors’ defence. A threaded ball from Jordan Henderson enabled Díaz to exchanges passes with Firmino before darting to the by-line and crossing dangerously into the Benfica goalmouth. Goalkeeper Odisseas Vlachodimos, injured moments earlier when saving bravely at the feet of Diogo Jota, fumbled under pressure from James Milner but recovered in time to claw the loose ball away from Firmino. Liverpool remained on the attack and opened the scoring with a repeat of their first goal at Estádio da Luz.

Kostas Tsimikas, starting in place of Andy Robertson, swung a corner into the Benfica area where Konaté rose above a statuesque Jan Vertonghen and Nicolas Otamendi to head inside Vlachodimos’ left hand corner. Konaté had opened his Liverpool account in similar style eight days ago. Lessons had not been learned in the Benfica defence.

There were warning signs for Liverpool, however. Everton curled a shot just wide of Alisson’s top corner in the opening minutes and Núñez thought he had cancelled out Konaté’s header with an exquisite chip over the Liverpool goalkeeper. The dangerous centre-forward was offside when racing through on to Everton’s pass, however. Benfica were growing more confident on the ball, encouraged by some loose Liverpool play, and levelled for the first time on the night when Goncalo Ramos beat Alisson with a convincing finish. Liverpool looked to VAR to save them with an offside call against Ramos but Milner, challenging Diogo Goncalves in midfield, had inadvertently played the goalscorer through.

Liverpool should have restored their lead before the interval but Firmino delayed a pass to an unmarked Díaz and gave Alejandro Grimaldo time to sweep clear. The Colombia international was far from impressed. The Brazilian made amends with two goals in quick succession early in the second half.

His first was a shambles from a Portuguese perspective. Naby Keïta instigated the move with a piercing pass towards Díaz. Vlachodimos arrived first but the goalkeeper, impressive in the first leg, fumbled once again and forced Vertonghen into a desperate clearance that he sliced to Jota. The Liverpool striker scuffed his shot across goal but Firmino was on hand to convert into an empty net.

Firmino’s second was a controlled volley at the back post from a Tsimikas free-kick that sailed over the Benfica defence. Liverpool were coasting into the last four and switched off as a result. Benfica substitute Roman Yaremchuk was flagged offside after receiving Julian Weigl’s pass, rounding Alisson and rolling into an unguarded net. VAR spotted he had been played onside by Joe Gomez and Benfica had a lifeline in the game, if not the tie. A third followed in similar fashion. Núñez’s cool finish after collecting a long ball out of defence was disallowed and then awarded after a lengthy VAR review.

The Uruguay forward struck again in the 95th minute but this time he was offside. Liverpool’s quest continues.
Newsletter

Related Articles

Beautiful Virgin Islands
EU and UK Announce Joint Effort on Migration
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Brazil's Lula Likens Gaza Operation to Holocaust, Israel Says "Red Line" Crossed
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Ministers Confirm Proposal to Prohibit Mobile Phone Usage in English Schools
BVI Freedom Song
Microsoft-backed OpenAI valued at $80bn after company completes deal
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
‘Alexei would want to tell Russia not to give up fighting’
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
Rwandan Footballer's Dismissal Sparks Concerns Over UK Asylum Plan
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Whisky Challenges China's Baijiu Market During New Year Celebrations
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Avdiivka - Symbol Of Ukrainian Resistance Now In Control Of Russian Troops
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Putin Critic Alexei Navalny's "Killers" Refusing To Hand Over Body, Say Allies
Hello Dolly
"Historic Step": Zelensky Signs Security Pact With Germany
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
"Historic Step": Zelensky Signs Security Pact With Germany
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
20 Tech Giants Sign Effort To Fight AI Election Interference Across Globe
Yes He Can
Joe Biden Accuses Putin of Causing Navalny's Death
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has died at the Arctic prison colony
Unforgettable
Tucker Carlson grocery shopping in Russia. This is so interesting.
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Julian Assange's Wife Warns of His Death if Extradited to US
The Lord's Prayer
‘A lot higher than we expected’: Russian arms production worries Europe’s war planners
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
Greece Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage and Adoption Rights
Siyahamba
Hungarian Foreign Minister: Europeans will lose Europe, the Union's policy must change drastically
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
In Britain Homeowners are receiving CPO’s (Compulsory Purchase Orders) so their homes can be redistributed to migrants
Ramblin' Rose
Microsoft says it caught hackers from China, Russia and Iran using its AI tools
Protoje - Who Knows ft. Chronixx
Influencers Exploit X Platform for Profit Amidst Israel-Gaza Conflict
Pressure - Virgin Islands Nice
Former Dutch PM And Wife Die "Together Hand In Hand" Via Duo Euthanasia
Phil Wickham - House Of The Lord
Media Giant Paramount Global, Which Owns CBS News, To Cut 800 Jobs
My God Is Real (Yes, God Is Real)
US Rejects Putin's Ceasefire Offer in Ukraine
The Lion King Circle of Life by LEBO M. — LIVE at the HAVASI Symphonic
"History is Watching": Biden Encourages US House to Approve Ukrainian War Aid
Louis Armstrong - When The Saints Go Marching In
Wolf! Wolf!: Joe Biden Joins TikTok Despite Washington's Security Risk Warnings
Kanye West Sunday Service - hallelujah, salvation, and glory
A Londoner has been arrested for expressing his Christian beliefs.
Jonathan Nelson - I Believe (Island Medley
Chinese Women Favor AI Boyfriends Over Humans
From The Virgin Islands Sqad Up
Kylie Minogue to receive Brits global icon award and will perform at ceremony
Common, John Legend - Glory
Greece must address role in migrant vessel disaster that killed 600: Amnesty
Anthony Evans vs. Jesse Campbell - If I Ain't Got You
Russian Oligarch's Seized Yacht Costs More Than $7 Million A Year To Maintain: US
I have a dream, MLK inspiring speech
Bitcoin Reaches $50,000 for First Time in Over Two Years
Aretha Franklin, Marvis Staples - Oh Happy Day
Travis Kelce's First Words to Taylor Swift After Winning the Super Bowl Have Us Swooning
BVI Freedom Song
Google pledges 25 million euros to boost AI skills in Europe
Billy Preston - You Can't Beat God Giving (Live)
Israel deploys new military AI in Gaza war
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGGAE CARIBBEAN RIDDIMZ
After Mona Lisa, Climate Protesters Throw Soup at Monet Painting
Oh Happy Day Edwin Hawkins - Anthony Brown w FBCG Combined Choir
Israel Utilizes AI Military Technology in Gaza Conflict
'Stand by Me' performed by Karen Gibson and The Kingdom Choir
Greta Thunberg Joins Banned French Anti-Motorway Protest
National Anthem of the British Virgin Islands - Oh, Beautiful Virgin
Dragons: A 4000-Year Saga of Enigma and Luck
Hello Dolly
Organizer of Dover Tractor Protest Warns of Potential Escalation
for KING & COUNTRY - Amen (Reborn) [feat. Lecrae & The WRLDFMS Tony Wi
This might be the funniest clip on the internet involving Cristiano Ronaldo
Bob Marley - Get Up Stand Up
Activist crashes Hillary Clinton's speech, calls her a 'war criminal.'
Yes He Can
In El Salvador, the 'Trump of Latin America' stuns the world with a speech slamming woke policing after winning a landslide election
What A Friend We Have In Jesus
Trudeau reacts to Putin's mention of Canadian Parliament applauding a former Ukrainian Nazi in his interview with Tucker Carlson.
Unforgettable
The Spanish police blocked the farmers protest. So the farmers went out and moved the police car out of the way.
Touch The Hem Of His Garment
Cruise lines sailing into 2024 seeing strong demand, AAA says
The Lord's Prayer
Arm CEO talks growth as stock rallies on AI-fueled demand
THE GOD MOVEMENT...BEAUTIFUL BVI
British PM Rishi Sunak Paid More Than 500,000 Pounds In Tax Last Year
Siyahamba
Tesla trails Ford and GM in revenue generated per worker
Ray Charles And The Voices Of Jubilaton, Oh, Happy Day
×