Premier League • England

Player Ratings: Liverpool duo stake claim for semi-final start with top displays against Benfica

Ibrahima Konate and Jordan Henderson of Liverpool

Two Liverpool players impressed as Jurgen Klopp’s side drew 3-3 with Benfica at Anfield, winning 6-4 on aggregate, to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.

The first half was eventful and full of chances. The aptly-named Everton had the first sight of goal, sending a curling effort just wide for Benfica.

Liverpool took the lead in the 21st minute when Ibrahima Konate rose tall to connect with a Kostas Tsimikas set-piece, sending it into the bottom corner. It saw the defender register a goal against Benfica for the second game in a row.

The Reds then had chances through Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino, but it was Benfica who struck next. Liverpool were sloppy in possession and Goncalo Ramos capitalised to send a vicious effort past Alisson with 32 minutes gone.

More opportunities fell to Diaz and Naby Keita before the interval, but they weren’t taken and the two teams headed down the tunnel with the score at 1-1.

In the second half, Liverpool re-took the lead through Firmino. A couple of Benfica errors allowed Diogo Jota to fire into the box on his left foot. It looked like a wayward shot but Firmino was there to tap into effectively an open net.

And the Brazilian forward secured his brace 10 minutes later. Another dangerous Tsimikas delivery found Firmino in bags of space and he volleyed home from close range.

Benfica hit another goal in the 73rd minute when Joel Matip was caught napping, allowing substitute Roman Yaremchuk to round Alisson before scoring.

And the Lisbon giants had some hope of a dramatic comeback when the in-form Darwin Nunez made it 3-3 with nine minutes left. However, they couldn’t get the vital two goals and Liverpool went through.

The result means Klopp’s men will face Villarreal in the last four, following the Spanish outfit’s surprise 2-1 aggregate win over Bayern.

Firmino and Konate were Liverpool’s highest-rated players, therefore staking their claim for a starting spot against Villarreal, while Diaz wasn’t too far behind…

Liverpool (4-3-3)

Alisson: Could do little to stop Ramos’ goal as it was a precise strike from the Portuguese. Similar with Yaremchuk’s finish, as it was good work from the striker. Then got down smartly to prevent Nunez from scoring a second. 6

Joe Gomez: Got forward regularly, attempting to emulate usual right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold. Influence waned as the game went on though, resulting in an average performance. 6

Ibrahima Konate: Found himself on the scoresheet against Benfica again. Towered above his opponents before confidently heading past keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos. Solid performance from the 22-year-old who kept Nunez at bay whenever the attacker came near him. 9

Joel Matip: Had to be alert to deal with Nunez as the Uruguayan striker regularly came onto his side. Lacked concentration for Yaremchuk’s goal though as the Ukraine international managed to run straight in behind him. 6

Kostas Tsimikas: Constantly made himself available out wide. Great delivery from the corner to give Konate a relatively simple headed finish. Stepped up too late in the build up to Benfica’s first goal, allowing Ramos to equalise. Then returned with another wicked cross, giving Firmino his second on the night. 8

Naby Keita: Quiet in the first half until he drove a shot just wide in the 45th minute. Worked hard throughout and managed to get a full 90 minutes at Anfield. 7

James Milner: Unlucky to see his deflection send Ramos through for Benfica’s opener. Got caught out a couple of times while going up against the Portuguese team’s lively attackers. 6

Liverpool players Ibrahima Konate and Roberto Firmino

Jordan Henderson (C): Understated performance from the skipper – he regularly did well to recycle possession. Kept things solid in the middle of the park as usual. 7

Diogo Jota: Worked well with Tsimikas on the left flank. Picked up an assist for Firmino’s goal, even if it did look like a shot of his own. Decent all-round display from the Portuguese. 7

Roberto Firmino: Engaged in some nice interplay with Diaz. Almost got an assist when he attempted to give Diaz a tap-in, just needed more conviction on the pass. Showed good awareness to get his first goal from Jota’s miss-hit shot, then displayed top-class movement to give himself an easy second goal. Took his chances whenever they presented themselves, which is exactly what Klopp wants. 9 – Man of the Match

Luis Diaz: Looked lively from the start and showed great skill to fashion a chance for himself in the 26th minute. Linked up well with Firmino and Jota – Benfica defenders didn’t know how to mark him. Taken off midway through the second half as Klopp gave him a rest. 8


Mo Salah (on for Jota, 57): Came on to tire the Benfica defence and regularly got at Alex Grimaldo down the right wing. Brilliant skill in the 90th minute to set up Mane for a tap-in and unlucky to see the flag go up. 7

Fabinho (on for Henderson, 57): Aimed to shore things up in midfield but Benfica did well to find pockets of space around him and get two goals in the latter stages. 6

Thiago (on for Milner, 58): Brought on to dominate possession and wind the clock down – did this job well. 7

Sadio Mane (on for Diaz, 66): On hand to finish when Salah found him at the back post, before the linesman intervened. Quiet substitute appearance from the forward other than that. 6

Divock Origi (on for Firmino, 90+1): N/A