Benfica vs Liverpool final score: (Mostly) Child’s play for Klopp’s Reds

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Luis Diaz had a goal and an assist as Liverpool put one foot in the UEFA Champions League semifinals in producing a 3-1 win over Benfica at the Estadio da Luz on Tuesday.

Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane also scored for the Reds, who head back to Anfield up two goals and with the knowledge that only a complete letdown gave Benfica a route back into this match.

[ MORE: Man City vs Liverpool history, Pep vs Klopp stats ]

Rafa Silva set up Darwin Nunez for Benfica’s lone goal. With away goals basically irrelevant, it’s very difficult to consider the second leg at Anfield as anything but academic.

Sounds funny when discussing a Champions League quarterfinal, but this is all an appetizer for Man City vs Liverpool in the Premier League, 11:30am Sunday on USA Network and online via NBCSports.com.

[ MORE: The Run-in — Man City, Liverpool in focus ]


Benfica vs Liverpool final score, stats

Final score: Benfica 1, Liverpool 3

Scorers: Konate (17′), Mane (34′), Nunez (49′), Diaz (87′)

Shots: Benfica 9, Liverpool 17

Shots on target: Benfica 3, Liverpool 8

Possession: Benfica 35, Liverpool 65


Three things we learned from Benfica vs Liverpool

1. Mostly child’s play for Liverpool: It’s rude to call Benfica the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal round’s bye week, but someone might say it and I might just nod at them. Liverpool walked into the Estádio da Luz, systematically dismantled the hosts in building a 2-0 lead and could’ve had it 4-0 by the break had it not done what the Reds are wont to do at times: Figure the game’s settled and allow the opponent a little bit of hope.  All that said, it’s only a modicum of positivity against the Liverpool side, one of the greatest to play the game this century, and Luis Diaz wasn’t too bummed to score against his longtime rivals.

2. Too open at the back = route back for opponents: Haven’t we seen this all year from Liverpool? A fantastic team that attacks with flair but seems to lose focus whenever it manages that ol’ “most dangerous lead in sports.” Shout out for Andy Robertson, Ibrahima Konate, and mayvbe even Virgil van Dijk for making sure the second leg at Anfield will be interesting. On the plus side, Konate’s huge error here is essentially level business for his terrific headed opener.

3. What’s this say about Sunday? Whereas Pep Guardiola tried to save the legs of Phil Foden, Jack Grealish, and Gabriel Jesus to run at Liverpool’s sometimes-open defense on Sunday, only inserting them with the score 0-0 after 68 minutes, Jurgen Klopp is hoping that only playing Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah for 61 minutes gives them enough in the tank to trouble the Premier League leaders at the Etihad Stadium in five days’ time.

Man of the Match: Naby Keita — Remember when Keita was signed from RB Leipzig and looked like the missing piece to Liverpool’s dominance. That was years ago, but Keita looked like it on Tuesday. His 106-touch day included two key passes, four shots, 3-of-4 dribbles completed, 10-of-17 ground duels won, two fouls drawn, and five tackles.


Dictionary definition of a center back header

Benfica is a bye. Trent Alexander-Arnold is a cheat code

Okay, we said it after all.

Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen were essentially deemed too slow to keep playing (really) well in the Premier League.

Let’s see how they’d look against top Premier League competition today.

Go on, Trent. Good team goal vs Bad team defense.