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UEFA Championship

Liverpool earn hard-fought Champions League advantage

Liverpool took control of their Champions League quarter-final tie against Benfica as they claimed a hard-fought 3-1 win in Portugal.

Liverpool was cruising into the last four after first-half goals from Konate, and Mane gave them a half-time lead.

However, Benfica was back in it when Darwin Nunez netted shortly after the restart.

They continued to threaten an equaliser before Luis Diaz wrapped things up in a somewhat timely fashion late on.

The signs of the hosts’ potential were evident in an encouraging start that came about thanks in no small part to an emotional crowd at the Estadio da Luz.

A fast-paced early break from Rafa seemed to hint at how Benfica might trouble their opponents.

And Nunez soon followed suit to provide a low cross that deserved better support.

But Liverpool, too, were creating chances and eventually took one when Konate headed home a Robertson corner.

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Liverpool earn hard-fought Champions League advantage

That marked the start of utter domination from the visitors, who doubled their tally just past the half-hour mark.

When Diaz nodded down a beauty of a Trent Alexander-Arnold pass to hand Mane a tap-in.

Alexander-Arnold almost created another goal just before the break, an incredible pass on the turn putting in Mohamed Salah for a one-on-one that he should have done better with.

Given the one-sided nature of the first half, it did not feel like Liverpool would rue that miss.

But it took just four minutes after the restart for Benfica to change the game’s complexion.

The visitors looked wide open even before Konate’s miscued back-post clearance allowed Nunez all the time in the world to side-foot home and ignite the atmosphere once more.

Nelson Verissimo’s men were transformed and went close again through a Nunez header before Everton shot straight at Alisson when he perhaps should have found a corner.

That flurry of opportunities prompted Klopp to look to his bench to try and settle things down.

The trio partially succeeded in their aim, although they could not entirely negate Benfica’s threat on the break or silence of the cacophony that greeted their every burst forward.

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Liverpool earn hard-fought Champions League advantage

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