Liverpool’s 3-1 first-leg triumph at Benfica took most of the drama out of their Champions League quarter-final tie, but the return leg did not cease to amaze.
Confident of navigating his side to the competition’s semi-finals, Jurgen Klopp fielded a bit understrength starting XI at Anfield ahead of the Reds’ upcoming FA Cup clash against Manchester City.
Roberto Firmino, who has lost his place in the line-up following the arrivals of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, stole the spotlight as the Merseysiders and Benfica shared the spoils in an enthralling 3-3 draw.
As was the case at the Estadio da Luz, Ibrahima Konate’s towering header opened the scoring at Anfield before Goncalo Ramos drew the visitors level just after the half-hour mark.
Firmino ran the show for Liverpool after the break, but Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez cancelled out his second-half brace to rescue a stalemate for Nelson Verissimo’s team.
Despite failing to win their second consecutive home match in the Champions League, Klopp’s men have reached the competition’s semi-finals for the first time in three years as 6-4 aggregate victors.
More importantly, midweek European action enabled the German manager to hand some of his star players, including Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, a much-needed rest.
Fresh legs could be crucial to Liverpool’s bid to secure their first appearance in the FA Cup final since a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea in the 2011/12 showpiece.
Liverpool vs Manchester City FA Cup Preview
Wembley Stadium will play host to Saturday’s mammoth FA Cup semi-final showdown between Liverpool and Man City.
This fixture will be available to watch online via soccer streams, coupled with the other semi-final tie between Chelsea and Crystal Palace. Both games are also available to watch on BBC One in the UK.
Liverpool will have to defy their ‘Wembley jinx’ against Man City to advance to the grand final, having lost both previous H2Hs at this venue via penalties.
But the Reds will have an eye-catching recent semi-final record in the FA Cup to back their showpiece claim. They have won eight of their ten previous semi-final ties in the competition.
Klopp’s men will take the field amid a purple patch, having lost just one of their last 23 competitive outings (W18, D4), with 13 of those triumphs yielding a 2+ goal margin.
Man City have reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the fifth time in six years during Pep Guardiola’s reign, yet three of their four previous last-four appearances fell flat.
However, the Cityzens will be full of confidence after squeezing past reigning La Liga champions Atletico Madrid in their keenly-contested Champions League quarter-final tie.
After a narrow 1-0 first-leg victory at the Etihad Stadium, the defending Premier League champions gave Diego Simeone a taste of his own medicine, eking out a goalless draw in Madrid.
Liverpool’s Latest Transfer Updates
One of the most significant storylines in regards to the most recent Liverpool transfer news concerns the future of talismanic forward Mo Salah.
The man, single-handedly responsible for keeping Liverpool’s dream of a historic quadruple alive, has yet to put pen to paper on a new deal.
With the summer transfer window approaching, the Reds are in a hurry to get their star man to sign the papers and pledge his future to Anfield.
But Salah has recently cast doubt on his long-term future in Liverpool by refusing to be drawn on a contract stand-off, according to Sky Sports (via the Metro).
Barcelona are patiently waiting in the shadows, though the Merseysiders remain hopeful of tying the runaway Premier League Golder Boot winner down to a new contract.
In other news, Liverpool are one step away from landing Fulham’s up-and-coming starlet Fabio Carvalho following a failed attempt to conclude the deal in January.
Renowned transfer guru Fabrizio Romano claims that the 19-year-old has completed his medicals ahead of a long-awaited £7m move to Anfield.
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