Jurgen Klopp's verdict as Liverpool take a leap towards Champions League semi-finals
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes his side could have put their Champions League quarter-final against Benfica to bed, as they settled for a 3-1 win in Portugal.
Winger Luis Diaz marked his return to Portugal with the crucial late goal which gave Liverpool a lead to take back to Anfield for their Champions League quarter-final second leg.
The former Porto star, signed in January, was booed relentlessly but he responded perfectly in the 87th minute to spare the blushes of Ibrahima Konate, whose mistake just over half an hour after scoring his first goal for the club had gifted the hosts a goal they had barely deserved.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had been coasting at half-time in the Estadio da Luz after Sadio Mane’s goal doubled the advantage given to them by their centre-back’s header but having squandered numerous chances, Konate’s legs got tangled as he tried to make a clearance early in the second half and Darwin Nunez capitalised.
It was a goal which significantly changed the game for a long period, as Benfica suddenly looked the better side with Liverpool completely out of sorts, but Diaz had the final word to make the return look slightly more comfortable than it had done.
"Coming here and winning an away game in the Champions League is tough," Klopp told BT Sport.
"Benfica fought for their lives, we gave them a little bit too much but they deserved the goal as well, even though we could have defended better - they had counter attacks, it is not easy to keep the ball all the time and the more risk you take, they have really good players.
"It was a tough game, what I expected, the crowd was there, we knew 2-0 is nothing, nice but not more. They score the goal and it was much more open than we wanted but the goalie was probably the best player and made a couple of really good saves - we are two goals up, half-time, let's keep going.
"We usually score more in those situations but we didn't, mainly because the goalie, credit to him, and that is pretty much the story. We could have scored in the last minute, 4-1 would be nice but we are not in dreamland here."
Liverpool full-back Andy Robertson revealed he was targeted with cigarette lighters thrown by Benfica fans as he took corners, but he didn't want to inflame the incident.
"I got quite a few lighters thrown at me," he confirmed. "Maybe it will stop them smoking - so take the positives from it! But you should try not to throw things on the pitch because it can hurt people, luckily none hit me.
"It was a tough game, on top first half and could have gone in a couple more up, then we wanted to keep it tight but they got a goal which lifted the crowd and we got a bit sloppy. The third goal was big.
"Luis (Diaz) got a nice reception from the start, playing for one of their rivals, but a good goal for him and a two-goal cushion makes a difference. Hopefully we can get the job done."
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