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Liverpool 3-3 Benfica (6-4 agg): Firmino brace seals Reds’ semi-final spot

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Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool progressed to the Champions League semi-finals after sealing a 6-4 aggregate victory over Benfica.

The Brazil international netted a second-half brace for the Reds, who will play Villarreal in the last four later this month.

Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring in the first half at Anfield, but Goncalo Ramos replied to keep Benfica’s hopes alive.

Firmino’s double put the Reds back in control and despite Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez setting up a nervy finish, Jurgen Klopp’s side secured a third Champions League semi-final appearance since the German took charge in 2015.

Seeking successive away wins in the competition for the first time since 2011, Benfica went close in the 13th minute as Everton whipped a vicious 25-yard effort just wide of the post.

But Liverpool extended their aggregate advantage eight minutes later. Just like at Estadio da Luz eight days earlier, Konate broke the deadlock with a fine header from Konstantinos Tsimikas’ corner.

The visitors levelled the second leg in the 32nd minute when a kind ricochet off James Milner sent Ramos clear, and the Portugal under-21 international clinically swept past Alisson.

The hosts almost restored their three-goal buffer, with Alejandro Grimaldo’s outstanding last-ditch intervention denying Luis Diaz a certain tap-in from Firmino’s square ball.

Liverpool did regain that cushion 10 minutes after the restart; Diogo Jota’s attempted shot was drifting wide until Firmino tucked home from six yards after Jan Vertonghen’s hurried clearance went straight to the Portugal international.

The Brazil international doubled his tally in the 65th minute as he beat the offside trap to volley home Tsimikas’ inviting free-kick.

The visitors had the last word when Yaremchuk neatly rounded Alisson before slotting home from Grimaldo’s throughball, before Nunez sprung the offside trap to set up a nervy finish at Anfield.

What does it mean? Liverpool maintain knockout stage streak

It is now 20 years since Liverpool lost a Champions League knockout tie after winning the first leg, last doing so against Bayer Leverkusen during the 2001-02 season.

Despite Benfica’s late surge, the Reds never appeared in too much danger throughout the contest as they secured their 12th semi-final appearance in the competition.

Firmino into double figures

Firmino took his goal tally for the campaign to 11 across all competitions, reaching double figures for the sixth time in seven seasons at Anfield.

The Brazil international provided a constant threat to the Benfica defence, with no player recording more shots on goal during the second leg (five).

Historic goal for Nunez

Despite his side bowing out of the competition, Nunez made history with his consolation strike.

The Uruguay international netted his sixth goal in this season’s Champions League – the most by any Benfica player during a single campaign in the competition – breaking Nuno Gomes’ 23-year record.

What’s next?

Liverpool march on to the semi-finals, where Villarreal await with the first leg being played on April 26 or 27. Before that, the Reds resume their quadruple bid on Saturday when they face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals.

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