Benfica 1-3 Liverpool: Player ratings as midfield purrs and Díaz makes home fans fume

Don Kopleone rates the Reds as they shook off a sloppy second-half spell to put one foot in the Champions League semi-finals.

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Whatever way you spin it, for an away first leg of a Champions League quarter-final, things don’t tend to get much better.

Liverpool left Lisbon with a two-goal lead on their Portuguese opponents, even if the performance was not their most complete of the season.

A confident start was met with some dangerous Benfica counter-attacks before Ibrahima Konaté broke the deadlock with his first goal for the Anfield club.

Darwin Núñez, the hosts’ talisman, threatened with regularity but it was Sadio Mané who scored the game’s second, after Luis Díaz controlled a Trent Alexander-Arnold ball into his path.

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Núñez would half the deficit in the second half, after a mistake from Konaté.

But Naby Keïta’s through ball released Díaz late on, and the one-time Porto man scored against his former rivals – invoking the ire of the home support and one upset Portuguese man who lobbed a flagstick at his head.

Your ratings, after a triumphant first leg:

Starting XI

Ali 7 – Sound as ever in goal. Just about escaped danger with a mishit Cruyff turn.

Trent 7.5 – Made some sensational passes, including a lovely long ball forward for the Mané goal and the one which created the one-on-one that Salah saw saved.

Ibou 6 – Superb until he scored, but was much more erratic after that, as seen with the loss of concentration for the Benfica goal. He will learn.

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Big Virg 8.5 – Won every duel, as he always does, and would hoover up if anyone else made mistakes.

Robbo 6 – His body position was all wrong for a couple of Benfica attacks.

Nabs 7.5 – Failed to convert a couple of first half attempts. Looked a lot better when moved to the left of the midfield three, as seen with the assist for the all-important third.

Fabs 8.5 – Just one hell of a football player. It’s a very different game without him. Hopefully the head knock he suffered at the end of the game isn’t serious enough for him to miss Sunday’s City showdown.

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ThiaGOAT 7.5 – He may have been the best player on the pitch in the first half. Gave away the ball a few times after the break, before he was substituted with one eye on the weekend.

Mo 5.5 – His first touch was all over the place all night and his finishing touch appears to have deserted him. His current form is worrying.

Sadio 6 – Not at his best either, but had the intelligence of movement in the build up to the Liverpool second.

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Luis Suárez Díaz 8 – Not always involved, but showed brilliant composure for both his goal and assist.

Subs

Hendo 6.5 – His incredible through ball released Jota for the chance to make it 4-1, which was missed.

Bobby 7 – Really helped to link play together and played a big role in Liverpool wrestling control of the game back from the hosts in the second half.

Di-no-goal 6 – Missed the big late chance to top everything off.

Milly N/A – So on brand.

JoGo N/A – Cautious when the chance to add to his Saturday assist presented itself.


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Don Kopleone

Scouse, not Sicilian.

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