Premier League • England

Michael Owen admits U-turn over Liverpool star for Man City clash after Benfica display

Luis Diaz, Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino Benfica v Liverpool April 2022

Michael Owen has admitted that Luis Diaz – the Liverpool hero against Benfica – may not start against Manchester City as he first predicted.

Liverpool’s January signing from Porto starred on Tuesday in his first appearance back in Portugal. He got an assist for Sadio Mane’s goal in the Champions League quarter-final, before handing the Reds a crucial 3-1 lead at the death.

Ibrahima Konate had opened the scoring from an Andy Robertson corner before Mane’s second.

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ball was magnificent to find Diaz, who headed onto Mane to make it 2-0 to Liverpool.

Benfica hit back through Darwin Nunez and the visitors became sloppy as they were put under more pressure. However, Diaz scored at the death to restore Liverpool’s crucial two-goal advantage heading into the second leg at Anfield.

But before next Wednesday, the Reds play Manchester City in a mouthwatering Premier League title showdown. Owen insisted that he expected Diaz to start on Sunday, but has now changed his mind.

“The way Jurgen Klopp manages his substitutes would suggest maybe not. Bringing Mo Salah off, Sadio Mane off,” the pundit told BT Sport.

“You would think [Diogo] Jota would have to play, he’s been playing well recently and didn’t start today, so potentially not.

Klopp warns Salah, Mane and Diaz of high standards

Klopp warns Salah, Mane and Diaz of high standards

Jurgen Klopp warns Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz over high standards at Liverpool

“Before the game I thought he [Diaz] might do actually, but based on that today – leaving him on for the full game – he might be thinking of the other three.”

Whoever Klopp picks, he will not expect any kind of drop-off in quality. Mane

However, Peter Crouch insisted that the manager will have major issues behind the scenes with his side’s second-half display.

Liverpool lost the ball a number of times and could not wrestle back control of the game. Nunez’s goal did not help, and so Diaz’s third at the end became all the more crucial.

Luis Diaz goal hides Liverpool problems

Jurgen Klopp, Benfica v Liverpool April 2022

Crouch said: “They’ve got a great result there, I don’t think Jurgen Klopp will be over the moon with the performance.

“I thought second half, Benfica – although they put them under pressure – I thought Liverpool were sloppy at times. He’ll pull those players up, probably privately.

“He might come out and not be fuming, but I think in the dressing room afterwards I think he’ll be slightly concerned about some of the sloppy passing that went on.

“But they got the job done, they were clinical and Luis Diaz has given them a huge boost going into the second leg.”

Man City were also in Champions League quarter-final action on Tuesday. They edged a 1-0 win from their first leg with Atletico Madrid.