Benfica 1 – 3 Liverpool

Luis Diaz came back to haunt Benfica, scoring a vital third goal for Liverpool as they beat Benfica 3-1 in their Champions League quarter-final first leg in Lisbon.

Diaz has shone for Liverpool since leaving fierce Benfica rivals Porto in January, and he restored the Reds’ two-goal lead in the 88th minute.

The Colombian confidently passed Benfica goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos before sneaking into the far corner, giving Liverpool some much-needed respite ahead of next Wednesday’s return game at Anfield.

The first leg was the epitome of a two-half game. Liverpool dominated the first half, with Ibrahima Konate heading home his first goal for the club, doing it from a whipped corner from Andy Robertson.

Sadio Mane then tapped home after a searing counterattack, which summed up a solid first half. Trent Alexander-Arnold – starting for the first time since injury – caught a loose pass from Adel Taarabt before playing a perfect pass over the top.

The sublime ball finds the head of Diaz, who spots Mane’s run to the bottom right of the box. He squared his head and it was an easy entry for the Senegal international.

While Benfica finished the first half with a shot on target and looked set to face a quick Champions League exit, the second half couldn’t have been more contrasting.

Much had been said about Nunez before the game, with Premier League links attracting attention, and he showed his poaching instincts four minutes after the break. An appallingly poor clearance attempt from Konaté in the middle of the box saw the Benfica striker with a golden chance, which he dispatched past Alisson.

Nunez could also have earned a 67th-minute penalty as he and Rafa Silva tested a stunned Liverpool defence. The striker was checked by Virgil van Dijk inside the area before going down, but a VAR review didn’t award Benfica the penalty.

Liverpool quickly began to regain their footing in the game and sought to calm the passionate crowd as well as a revived Benfica side. Their recovery paid off when Diaz came home late to put the visitors in a commanding position ahead of the second leg, with his strike met with a sigh of relief and a smile from Jurgen Klopp.

Benfica’s Darwin Nunez, centre, celebrates after scoring against Liverpool

As Manchester City beat their own Champions League draw against Atletico Madrid 1-0, Liverpool and City with midweek victories under their belt head into Sunday’s Premier League title showdown at the stadium. Etihad, live on Sky Sports.

Sunday, April 10, 4:00 p.m.

Kick off 4:30 p.m.

And after?

Tuesday’s Champions League fixture begins a whopping 11-day stretch for Liverpool. They will face Premier League title challengers Man City on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports from 4pm; kick off 4:30 p.m.

Liverpool then host Benfica next Wednesday in the quarter-final second leg, before facing Man City again in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday April 16.

Sky Sports

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