Liverpool caress the semi-finals

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Luis Diaz scored Liverpool's third goal against Benfica.
Luis Diaz scored Liverpool’s third goal against Benfica.Armando Franca (AP)

Lisbon had two games in one. Liverpool pulled off a painstaking victory where it looked like a landslide was about to happen. He went on abundantly and to offer a lesson of dynamism, ambition and verticality, at times, to be vulnerable against an inferior opponent. And, in the end, he struck to drop the sentenced tie, leaving a monumental surprise. Because Benfica is far less than Liverpool. His plan included waiting for a retreat, waiting for fate to smile at someone galloping. This happened when he was two goals down and encouraged him to turn the game around and take the roller from the opponent.

benfica

1

Vlachodimos, Otamendi, Gilberto Jr., Vertonghen, Grimaldo, Julian Weigl, Goncalo Ramos (Joao Mario, min. 85), Tarbut (Souhilo Meite, min. 69), Everton (Yaremchuk, min. 81), Rafa Silva and Darwin Nez

3

liverpool

Alison, Trent Alexander-Arnold (Joe Gomez, Min. 88), Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk, A. Robertson, Fabinho, Thiago (Henderson, min. 60), Nabi Keita (Milner, min. 88), Luis Diaz, Mane (Roberto Firmino, min. 60) and Salah (Diogo Jota, min. 60)

aim 0-1 min. 16: Ibrahima Konate. 0-2 min. 33: Man. 1-2 min 48: Darwin Nunez. 1-3 min. 86: Luis Diaz.

punch Jesus Gil Manzano

yellow card Thiago (minimum 57) and Tarabat (minimum 62)

The start was tough for Benfica, who tried to contain the ocean of football with their hands. It is impossible to cover that much flow as few teams are as oiled at this point in the season as Liverpool, winners in 17 of the last 18 matches. He barely stumbled in a duel against Inter at Anfield in which the minimum defeat was enough for him to win. In Lisbon he performed a recital on his way out. Keeta was the engine; and Salah, Mane and Luis Diaz, Daggers. They all reached the field, they all contributed to the attack: the first goal was signed by a central defender and the second was borne by the shoe of the right back.

Konate scored from a corner and opened the game for the six-time champions. Prolific both in the auction, with the header on the away post, and in the defensive aspect. Nunez, a powerful striker, measured him in speed several times. Konate honed himself until, shortly after returning from the break, he made a mistake in a clearance against Uruguay that he went in the wrong direction and gave him a goal. No one dares with Van Dijk. Between his own and others’ goals, Liverpool amassed opportunities to punish the tie. Hellenic goalkeeper Vlachodimos became the Argentine to become great, knelt on the ground, and failed Luis Diaz, Salah, and, at the end of the game, Diogo Jota.

After half an hour, Mane scored and it was all over. Three touches were enough, a monumental pass from Alexander-Arnold behind the defence, a header from Diaz and a shot from Senegal. It seemed so simple that it even sounded like an abuse. But Benfica has always handled itself with the passion of teams that believe in it. And the crowd didn’t stop pushing him, as he was unable to control the game through passes, stealing balls, and flying toward Allison’s goal.

Nunez’s goal in the second half in three minutes generated an explosion of Benfiquista pride. The team moved on, began to move the ball up and were close to level, especially in an Everton shot that was chased away by Allison. The party went around like a sock. Klopp reacted and took the scalpel: he kicked Thiago, Mane and Salah off the field. In a quarter of an hour, Benfica created five scoring chances and Liverpool none.

Klopp felt in danger as he was not compact enough to defend himself every time he lost the ball and slowed down. Benfica was excited to understand what the match had in store for them. He was close to scratching a penalty in a duel between Van Dijk and Nez after the Uruguay attacker counterattacked. The fear quelled the greed of Liverpool, who kept more with the ball and reduced the speed of his movement. Vlachodimos’ paths seemed closed, until one last acceleration came and Luis Díaz arrived with a punishment.

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