Worries about the Portugese champions-elect proved unfounded as Benfica were comprehensively demolished in front of an exhuberant Anfield crowd.
Despite a slow start, the reds powered in to life – easily overturning the 10 man 2-1 defeat in the first leg.
Fernando Torres, despite looking tired late on, was key with two cute second half-goals – after a first half with goals from Dirk Kuyt and a fine goal from Lucas Leiva.
The Kop roared the Brazilian’s name at numerous times through the game and the player acknowledged the support from the fans.
It’s important to remember that the reds were faced with some difficult decisions pre-match. Torres had come through a fitness test, but both Insua and Babel were suspended. Maxi Rodriguez, again missing because he is cup-tied.
The reds opted to use Agger at left back, keeping Kyrgiakos as a partner for Carragher.
In contrast to the first leg when Liverpool had a blistering start, it was Benfica who looked sharper in the first 20 minutes, although Benfica failed to create any chances in this spell.
But as the first half wore in Liverpool settled in to the task at hand in overcoming the 2-1 first leg defeat.
The referee and his 4 assistants were having a nightmare – giving some terrible decisions against the reds – everything from throw-ins and handing Atletico corners that were clear goal kicks.
Their decision making looked suspect as they initially ruled out Dirk Kuyt’s perfectly legal 28th minute headed goal for offside. The referee eventually took the sensible advice from the assistant and awarded the goal. It was a bizarre moment.
Within 6 minutes the reds had doubled their lead – Steven Gerrard passing the ball through to Lucas Leiva who scored a goal belonging in Fernando Torres’ locker.
The chants of his name from the Anfield crowd were as much in recognition of some of the over-the-top stick he has taken from the media and some section of Liverpool’s fanbase, as the goal itself.
Second half and the reds looked even more determined. No longer were they even allowing Benfica to pass the ball – constantly closing down the Portugese side and the third goal arrived with a magnificent break. Some superb passing eventually saw Torres slot home for his first of the night.
Benfica, who scored twice from the spot last week, needed another set-piece and from a free kick were handed a fortunate goal.
The Liverpool players looked far less fazed by this Benfica goal than the fans were – and another fine set of quick passing and movement saw Torres cooly send the ball over Benfica’s second keeper of the night.
The fans celebrated at the final whistle as another European semi-final appeared on the horizon.
The Kop also had time for a determined half-time and post-match protest at the owners who had flown in for tonight’s game. As far as we know – they left at half time under police advice. They shouldn’t have bothered to come at all. Tonight’s win was despite them, not because of them.
Rafa Benitez will be aiming for his 6th European final in 7 seasons when Torres faces his old club Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals.
Man of the Match: Lucas Leiva
Post Match Comments
“We have two targets now and we will try to do both. We will try to win every game, starting by trying to beat Fulham on Sunday.”
“It was a good game and because the other team was very good you can say four goals was a fantastic performance, but I think we have played better this season.
“Any win is important, especially at this stage of a competition. If we can get to the final and win the final we will be very pleased.
“Hopefully we can play well, score goals, get closer to the top four and get to the final.”
- LFC Player StatsUpdated