Liverpool drew 3-3 with a brave Benfica on Wednesday to move to the Champions League semifinals 6-4 on aggregate. Roberto Firmino scored twice.
The Lisbon side departed the tournament with the acclaim of their own supporters – and Liverpool’s – ringing in their ears following a performance brimming with belief and dedication until the very end.
Jurgen Klopp’s team entered the home game with a definite edge after defeating Benfica 3-1 in the first leg in Lisbon, and essentially ended the tie in the 21st minute when Ibrahima Konate headed in a Konstantinos Tsimikas corner.
“It was not precisely what we wanted, but that is irrelevant,” Klopp said. “If we had played our finest game of the season tonight, it would not have increased our chances of reaching the final. We’re done, and that’s all that counts, and I’m overjoyed.”
Benfica equalised just after half-time with Goncalo Ramos, and the clubs went into the break level at 1-1, with Liverpool leading 4-2 on aggregate.
In the 55th minute, Diogo Jota set up Firmino for a close-range goal, and the Brazil international added another shortly afterwards from a Tsimikas assist as Liverpool cruised to the UCL last four.
Benfica fought well and got two goals back in the closing moments to restore a semblance of intensity to Anfield.
Roman Yaremchuk’s substitute goal made it 3-2, the Ukrainian attacker latching on to a through pass from Alejandro Grimaldo and around Alisson before slotting the ball into the empty net.
The goal was first disallowed due to offside but was reinstated after a video review.
It was a similar narrative for their equaliser on the night — Darwin Nunez’s attempt, after Benfica’s defeat of Liverpool’s offside trap, was similarly ruled out prior to VAR’s intervention to square the score at 3-3.
In stoppage time, the outstanding Nunez had an attempt disallowed, but VAR upheld the on-field decision, allowing Liverpool to avoid what might have been a tense last few minutes.
“All Benfica supporters should be very proud of this effort. We faced Ajax and Liverpool after a challenging group stage. As we proceeded, our opponents grew more tough, but we performed admirably “Nelson Verissimo, manager of Benfica, said.
Liverpool’s focus will now shift to Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal at Wembley against Premier League title rivals Manchester City (live on ESPN+ at 10:30 a.m. ET).