Jurgen Klopp admitted he was relieved to see Liverpool ebook a Champions League semi-final showdown in opposition to Villarreal because the quadruple chasers survived a late collapse in Wednesday’s 3-3 draw in opposition to Benfica.
Klopp’s facet already had one foot within the final 4 after profitable 3-1 within the quarter-final first leg in Lisbon.
They had been on cruise management for lengthy spells within the second leg at Anfield, however needed to maintain their nerve earlier than advancing 6-4 on mixture after an uncharacteristic meltdown within the closing levels.
Ibrahima Konate put Liverpool forward earlier than Goncalo Ramos equalised late within the first half.
When Roberto Firmino netted twice after the interval, the tie appeared all however over.
Nevertheless, Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez struck for Benfica to briefly give the guests hope of an astonishing escape act, earlier than Liverpool lastly restored order.
“After I’m not over the moon about qualifying for the Champions League semi-final, one thing is basically unsuitable and possibly I ought to stop!” Klopp mentioned.
“The scenario was the defence had by no means performed collectively and it was about particulars, staying one hundred pc concentrated.
“We had been 6-2 up on mixture. The gamers are human beings, they had been like ‘Okay job carried out’. However Benfica stored preventing and I respect that.
“It was not precisely what we wished however it’s completely not necessary. We’re via and that’s all that issues. I’m actually joyful.”
The Reds will face Spanish facet Villarreal within the semi-finals as they give the impression of being to achieve their tenth Champions League remaining and declare a seventh title within the competitors.
Regardless of Villarreal’s spectacular wins over Bayern Munich and Juventus within the final two rounds, Liverpool can be agency favourites to make a 3rd Champions League remaining within the final 5 seasons.
“To beat Juventus and Bayern Munich, they should be within the Champions League semi-finals. Unai Emery is the king of the cups, it’s unbelievable what he’s doing. However give me a little bit of time to arrange it correctly,” Klopp mentioned.
Liverpool sit one level behind Premier League leaders Manchester Metropolis after Sunday’s draw in opposition to their title rivals.
Within the midst of a run that may outline Liverpool’s season, Klopp was in a position to preserve Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Virgil Van Dijk contemporary as he began together with his stars on the bench forward of Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final in opposition to Manchester Metropolis.
Konate had headed the opener within the first leg at Benfica and Liverpool’s towering centre-back tormented the Portuguese facet together with his aerial prowess once more within the twenty first minute.
Kostas Tsimikas whipped an outswinging nook in direction of Konate and he climbed above three Benfica gamers to go into the far nook from 10 yards.
Benfica snatched their equaliser in opposition to the run of play within the thirty second minute.
Diogo Goncalves’ cross clipped off James Milner and ran via to the unmarked Ramos, who smacked a high quality end previous Alisson from simply inside the world.
Any hopes of a surprising Benfica fightback appeared over when the guests shot themselves within the foot in farcical vogue within the fifty fifth minute.
Goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos was the instigator of Benfica’s meltdown as he fumbled what ought to have been a simple interception of Naby Keita’s over-hit cross.
Jan Vertonghen’s panicked try and clear the hazard wasn’t significantly better and Jota crossed again into the six-yard field, the place Firmino had the easy job of tapping into the empty internet.
Firmino adopted his first house Champions League aim for 2 years with one other 10 minutes later.
Tsimikas curled an excellent free-kick to the cross and Firmino eluded Benfica’s sloppy marking to volley house from close-range.
With Klopp’s males taking their foot off the fuel, Yaremchuk struck within the 73rd minute, rounding Alisson to fit house after beating Liverpool’s offside lure.
There was a pointy consumption of breath round Anfield when Nunez scored with a predatory end within the 82nd minute.
Moments later, Nunez’s low strike examined Alisson, however Liverpool held on to maintain the quadruple dream alive.