Champions League: Liverpool and Man City reach semifinals in contrasting style

Liverpool, UK - Liverpool and Manchester City reached the semifinals of the Champions League after overcoming different types of challenges on Wednesday.

Liverpool players mob Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian forward scored his team's third goal at Anfield.
Liverpool players mob Roberto Firmino after the Brazilian forward scored his team's third goal at Anfield.  © REUTERS

Jürgen Klopp's Reds proved too strong for Benfica despite being held to a 3-3 draw at Anfield a week after winning 3-1 in Lisbon. They meet Villarreal, conquerors of Bayern Munich, in the last four ties which begin at the end of the month.

Star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were rested along with defender Virgil Van Dijk but Liverpool always had an element of control.

"I think we’d want to do better overall, but we started the game well and could have scored one or two more goals," Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson told BT Sport.

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"It was really comfortable but we’re disappointed at the goals we conceded. We got through to the next round, which is the most important thing."

Ibrahima Konaté, who opened the scoring in Portugal, repeated the trick by heading in Konstantinos Tsimikas' 21st minute corner, only for Gonçalo Ramos to level from a break of the ball soon after.

"It's fantastic for me to score in the Champions League for the first time, but nobody is happy," Ramos told Eleven Sports. "We ended up going out, but we have had a great journey."

Embarrassing defending ended Benfica's hopes when keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos spilled the ball and Roberto Firmino tapped in a cross from Diogo Jota 10 minutes after the restart.

Firmino then volleyed his second in the 65th from an excellent Tsimikas free-kick but Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Núñez drew Benfica level.

Only a brilliant save from Alisson stopped Núñez immediately cutting the deficit to one with seven minutes remaining but Liverpool settled and saw out the tie.

City survive bruising night in Madrid

Man City's Phil Foden celebrates at full time as his team knock Atlético Madrid out of the Champions League.
Man City's Phil Foden celebrates at full time as his team knock Atlético Madrid out of the Champions League.  © Action Images via Reuters

Man City meanwhile endured a nervous night at Atlético Madrid as they secured a 0-0 draw in their quarter-final second leg, which gave it the win 1-0 on aggregate.

Pep Guardiola's Premier League leaders now face a mouth-watering clash against record winner Real Madrid but will first focus on Wembley where they meet Liverpool, a point behind them domestically, in the FA Cup semifinal.

The teams also drew 2-2 in Manchester last weekend and Klopp took the chance to rotate heavily given the heavy schedule facing his players.

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Atléti started strongly in Madrid and put on a much more adventurous display than in Manchester, but the only first-half chance fell to City's Ilkay Gündoğan, who stroked a shot off the post.

City was pinned back in a feisty second period but Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo De Paul fired just wide.

"We had so much desire and hunger in order to achieve what we’ve done so far in this competition and now we can be proud of what we tried to achieve here," said Atlético midfielder Koke. "But we couldn’t quite reach the semifinals."

Defender Felipe was sent off in an injury-time brawl but there was one more chance which Ángel Correa struck straight at City keeper Ederson which ended Atlético's hopes of a semifinal derby with Madrid rivals Real, who eliminated holders Chelsea in the last eight.

"We knew it was not an easy place to come, it is a hostile environment, it was a difficult night all round and how we defended and controlled ourselves over the two legs was incredible," City center back John Stones said.

Cover photo: Action Images via Reuters

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