Luis Diaz scored a vital third goal for Liverpool late on as they beat Benfica 3-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
The Reds made a brilliant start to the game. Ibrahima Konate headed the visitors ahead in the 17th minute from Andy Robertson’s corner.
Liverpool got off to a good start, and Diaz created problems for Benfica right away. The former Porto man created his first game of the game in the first three minutes, hitting his man on the outside before kicking the ball into the box. Naby Keita broke away from the center of the pitch to hold on to it, but he could not keep his head down.
Five minutes later the Reds were about to close the lid. A good interaction between Mane and Mohamed Salah – which includes a cheeky backheel from the first – led to Salah finding himself scoring on the right side of the penalty area. However, Alex Grimaldo was there to get a toe in his effort on the post, circling the ball to get a corner kick.
The chaos continued in the 11th minute, with Salah turning to Keita, his attempt from the edge of the box was marked by Odysseas Vlachodimos. It wasn’t good but the goalkeeper did enough.
The most appropriate opening goal finally came to Liverpool on behalf of Konate. The midfielder went over to his mark to score an amazing ball from Andy Robertson to give the Reds the lead they deserve.
Liverpool continued to dominate for half an hour when Nicolas Otamendi gave up a good chance to paint a Benfica level. The Argentine defender was free to mark Mane to get a free header at the edge of the six-yard box. The title, however, was very flawed and came out of no proper post.
Shortly afterward, Benfica were punished for that missed as the Reds doubled their lead. Trent Alexander-Arnold cleverly caught Diaz with a hot ball from the left-wing, as the new player followed Mane’s path, making no mistake from 10 yards to beat the Reds’ second in the game.
It may have been three times going into the break, but Salah saw the shot from the left of the penalty spot saved well by Vlachodimos.
Benfica blew the tie early in the second half, with Nunez using Konate’s terrific game. The midfielder missed the ball while trying to clear Rafa Silva’s ball, allowing Nunez to steal and set the ball aside in the lower right corner of the net.
Liverpool looked shocked after conceding the ball, losing the game, making silly challenges, and allowing Benfica to grow in the game. In an hour, Le Aquile missed a good chance to make it 2-2 – Everton’s effort on the edge of the box was well saved by Alisson.
Klopp’s few timely changes cut the home side’s attack on the Reds’ goal, with Jordan Henderson particularly providing much-needed calm in the middle of the park.
The Reds finally put the game in no doubt in the 85th minute, when Diaz circled Vlachodimos and set the ball aside in the empty net.