Champions League

Liverpool 3-3 Benfica (Agg 6-4): Player ratings as rotated Reds seal spot in final four

Tom Gott
Liverpool just about survived Benfica
Liverpool just about survived Benfica / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages
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Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League semi-final with an enthralling 3-3 draw with Benfica on Wednesday, securing a 6-4 win on aggregate.

Jurgen Klopp made seven changes to his lineup, benching heavy hitters Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Thiago, Andy Robertson and Fabinho all benched ahead of this weekend's clash with Manchester City.

Liverpool did their best to control the possession early on, but Benfica's threat on the counter was clear. A run from the dangerous Darwin Nunez caused problems early on, before Everton's shot from range wasn't too far away from Alisson's top corner.

Both Darwin Nunez and Everton threatened to open the scoring early on, but it was one of the Reds' changes, Ibrahima Konate, who did the honours. The centre-back rose highest from a corner to do what he did last week and put Liverpool ahead after 20 minutes.

Nunez had the ball in the back of the net almost straight after with a delicious chip over Alisson, but VAR correctly ruled the goal out for offside.

The Liverpool pressure continued as the half progressed. Diaz drew an excellent save from Odysseas Vlachodimos, before a last-ditch block from Jan Vertonghen denied Roberto Firmino from point-blank range.

That block proved crucial as Benfica went down the other end and scored just a few moments later. Gonçalo Ramos thundered past Alisson and survived a lengthy VAR check to tie things up after 32 minutes.

Alex Grimaldo had to be alert to save a certain Diaz goal with an excellent interception, before Naby Keita provided the final highlight of an entertaining first half as he fired wide from range.

A catalogue of errors from the Benfica backline gifted Firmino a goal ten minutes after the break. Vlachodimos spilled a routine save and a poor clearance from Jan Vertonghen sent the ball out to Jota, whose cross was gleefully tapped home.

Shortly before the hour mark, Liverpool brought out the big guns as Salah, Fabinho and Thiago entered the fray, and they combined to cause problems for the Benfica defence almost immediately.

The third came through Firmino 65 minutes in. Some shocking Benfica defending from a Kostas Tsimikas free-kick gifted the Brazilian with another simple finish from close range.

Liverpool looked like they had taken complete control of the game after that goal but, against the run of play, Benfica pulled one back through Roman Yaremchuk, who needed yet another check from VAR to confirm his nice strike on the counter.

With eight minutes to go, Nunez survived yet another VAR check to tie things up, and he drew an excellent save from Alisson just moments later with a ferocious volley from range.

Benfica continued to push in search of what would have been an impressive victory in isolation, but Liverpool managed to slow the pace of the game down.

However, we still had time for two more VAR checks. Sadio Mane and Nunez both had the ball in the back of the net late on, but the busy assistant didn't need long to scratch either off.


Liverpool player ratings vs Benfica

1. Goalkeeper & defenders

Kostas Tsimikas
Tsimikas was superb / Clive Brunskill/GettyImages

Alisson (GK) - 5/10 - Benfica had four shots on target and three went in, but Alisson did make a top save to deny Nunez late on.

Joe Gomez (RB) - 7/10 - Looks a lot happier as a right-back. A regular threat down the right and didn't shy away from Nunez when he drifted out wide.

Ibrahima Konate (CB) - 8/10 - Got up highest for his goal and showed some real quality to angle it into the side netting.

Joel Matip (CB) - 6/10 - A few nice moments but felt a bit shaky up against Nunez. His communication wasn't good enough and Konate ended up taking control.

Kostas Tsimikas (LB) - 9/10 - A top performance down the left. Competent at the back and an absolute monster going forward. Superb free-kick for Firmino's second.

2. Midfielders

Jordan Henderson (DM) - 6/10 - Found it pretty tough to cope with Benfica's midfield but used his experience to try and calm things down.

Naby Keita (CM) - 6/10 - Provided all the energy in Liverpool's midfield and looked like he was determined to score. Unfortunately caught in the wrong position for Ramos' goal, which drags his rating down.

James Milner (CM) - 5/10 - Off it here. Couldn't keep up with Benfica's energy.

3. Forwards

Roberto Firmino
Firmino made the difference / PAUL ELLIS/GettyImages

Luis Diaz (RW) - 7/10 - The former Porto man could have bumped up his stats with better work from Firmino. A constant threat and clearly relishes playing against his old rivals.

Roberto Firmino (ST) - 7/10 - Some really poor decisions in the first half but redeemed himself with two nice goals after the break.

Diogo Jota (LW) - 7/10 - Wanted the ball at his feet all the time and looked a real threat when he got it. His final touch was an assist for Firmino.

4. Substitutes

Mohamed Salah (RW, 57' for Jota) - 7/10 - Made an immediate difference when he came on. Looked a real threat.

Thiago (CM, 57' for Milner) - 6/10 - Some nice passes but didn't really control the midfield.

Fabinho (DM, 57' for Henderson) - 4/10 - Looked out of place when he came on. No surprise that Benfica netted twice after his introduction.

Sadio Mane (LW, 66' for Diaz) - 6/10 - A few nice moments going forward and some decent defensive work.

Divock Origi (ST, 90' for Firmino) - N/A


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