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Liverpool eased into a Champions League semi-final against Villarreal as even a sloppy 3-3 draw with Benfica saw them progress 6-4 on aggregate.

On the last two occasions the two teams had met in the last eight of this competition the Reds went on to lift the trophy (1978 and 1984) and there has been little to suggest they cannot make it three this season.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have won eight of their 10 matches, scoring 25 goals – drawing a blank in their only defeat to Inter Milan – and conceding just 11.

Holding a 3-1 advantage from the first leg afforded them a considerable cushion and like in the Estadio da Luz last week centre-back Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring with a header.

Roberto Firmino scored twice, his first Champions League goals at Anfield since March 2020, after Goncalo Ramos had equalised in the first half.

A ragged finish saw the visitors’ Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez score late to dampen the party atmosphere and provide a warning – albeit it to a second-choice defence – that they cannot afford to take lightly the threat of Villarreal, considered the easier draw, who dispatched Bayern Munich to reach the semi-finals.

But ultimately Klopp’s seven changes to the side which drew with Manchester City on Sunday did not prove to be the slight gamble it may have looked on paper as Liverpool equalled Manchester United’s English record of reaching a 12th European Cup semi-final.

Just like last week, Liverpool took the lead through Konate and just like last week they failed to capitalise on a dominant first half which should have put paid to any hopes Benfica had of staging a shock.

Everton posted an early warning with a fizzing shot across Alisson Becker and past the far post from a counter-attack after James Milner, on his first start since March 2, failed to clear the wall with a free-kick.

From that point it was virtually all Liverpool and Diogo Jota’s header, ruled out for a push by the Portugal international, was the portent for things to come.

After Odysseas Vlachodimos saved at the feet of Milner following a sweeping move involving Jordan Henderson, Luis Diaz and Firmino the breakthrough came via a 21st-minute set-piece.

A corner from Kostas Tsimikas, one of the seven changes, was met by Konate who jumped earliest, highest and hung in the air longest to get between former Premier League centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and Jan Vertonghen and direct a downward header inside the far post.

The visitors’ response saw Nunez’s clever chip on the run beat Alisson only to be chalked off by an offside flag, before a Diaz shot and a Firmino restored the established order.

But just when Liverpool were building up a head of steam an inadvertent rebound from a Milner tackle dropped to Ramos beyond the last line of defence and he coolly beat Alisson in the 32nd minute and even a VAR review for offside could not save the hosts.

Firmino, who so often prefers the extravagant to the straightforward, inexplicably chose to play the percentages and run with the ball with the goalkeeper 30 yards off his line and his square a pass to Diaz was cut out by the recovering Alejandro Grimaldo.

Liverpool gained the much-needed breathing space they needed 11 minutes after the break when Vlachodimos fumbled an overhit through-ball from Naby Keita under pressure from Diaz.

The clearance was hacked only as far as Jota on the left of the penalty area and although he skewed his attempted shot into an open goal Firmino was on hand to turn it in at the far post.

Klopp already had his triple substitution lined up as on came Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho for Jota, Milner and Henderson.

Firmino kicked off the party – in the stands at least – when he side-footed home at the far post from a Tsimikas free-kick 25 minutes from time only for the mood to be dampened when substitute Yaremchuk and Nunez both beat Alisson, both goals courtesy of VAR confirmation.

There was a brief moment of concern when Alisson had to save low to his right from Nunez but the hosts eventually recovered their composure.

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Liverpool executed an old-fashioned European smash and grab in the San Siro as goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah handed them a huge advantage against Inter Milan

Jurgen Klopp’s side were well below their best, especially for 30 minutes of the second half, but have the knack of knowing how to win when it matters and late goals left their opponents with a 2-0 deficit to overcome at Anfield in the second leg of this Champions League last-16 tie next month.

At Burnley on Sunday they had proved they can grind out results in difficult circumstances but this was something of a step up in class against the defending Serie A champions.

But with Virgil Van Dijk at times seemingly single-handedly holding the defence together they weathered what storm there was and struck with clinical efficiency like the Liverpool sides of old in Europe.

Half-time substitute Firmino produced a superb flicked header from Andy Robertson’s inswinging 75th-minute corner and eight minutes later Salah’s deflected shot – the eight successive Champions League away game in which he has scored – made Inter’s task all the more difficult.

The gamble of handing teenager Harvey Elliott his first Champions League appearance with a place in the starting line-up, making him Liverpool’s youngest player in the competition, excluding qualifiers, by surpassing team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold (18 years and 354 days), did not pay off but it was far from the youngster’s fault.

There were far too many more senior players having off days and for a time, especially after the break, it looked like it might cost them.

The game was strangely open for a Champions League knockout tie with Lautaro Martinez lashing a shot wide from just outside the area, Hakan Calhanoglu’s angled shot glancing off the crossbar and Milan Skriniar heading wide at a corner for the hosts in the first half.

Liverpool arguably created better chances with Sadio Mane heading over a Robertson free-kick when he should probably have scored before planting an acrobatic overhead effort into the side-netting.

Either side of those Thiago Alcantara’s dipping volley dropped onto the roof of the net and Alexander-Arnold whipped wide a free-kick.

The visitors’ pressing game was paying dividends in the final third with Inter often getting caught in possession or giving the ball away but there was no profit to be made from that.

Liverpool at least had the reassuring presence of Van Dijk, who usually saves his absolute best for the business end of the season, at the other end.

Edin Dzeko looked to have gained a couple of yards on the edge of the area but the Dutchman’s recovery was effortless to casually dispossess the former Manchester City striker.

Firmino replaced Diogo Jota at the interval but it was Inter who started better with Martinez failing to get on the end of Ivan Perisic’s inviting cross.

Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Luis Diaz arrived midway through the second half with the hosts threatening to push home their dominance and the latter was immediately into the action forcing Skriniar to block a shot.

But Liverpool’s play continued to be ragged, only offering more encouragement to their opponents, who frequently tried to exploit the channel between Alexander-Arnold and centre-back Ibrahima Konate.

Denzel Dumfries headed over a corner but Firmino was far more clinical from Robertson’s inswinging delivery and Salah matched that decisiveness when he doubled their lead soon after.

The fact Klopp eschewed his customary fist pumps despite the urging of the travelling support suggested he knew they had probably got away with one and he did not want to push his luck further.

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Roberto Firmino struck a hat-trick and Mohamed Salah scored for the eighth consecutive game as Liverpool delivered a masterclass in a 5-0 demolition of Watford on Claudio Ranieri’s Premier League return.

Jurgen Klopp’s side dominated from the outset to extend their unbeaten league run to 18 games, with Sadio Mane opening the scoring with his 100th Premier League goal.

Firmino doubled Liverpool’s lead just before half-time with a tap-in before adding his second from close range seven minutes after the break, capitalising on a parry from goalkeeper Ben Foster.

Salah provided Liverpool’s fourth with another moment of individual brilliance in the box before curling the ball in to the far corner and Firmino completed his treble in added time.

It was not the welcome return to the Premier League that former Chelsea and Leicester boss Ranieri would have hoped for, after replacing the sacked Xisco Munoz, with the full scale of Watford’s bid to stay in the top flight evident.

Liverpool started the game brightly and deservedly went ahead after nine minutes. Salah had already rattled the crossbar only to be flagged for offside before Mane’s first-time finish from the Egyptian’s exquisite pass brought up his personal milestone.

Foster had cleared the ball, but Salah won it back before shrugging off Danny Rose to send Mane through with the outside of his boot. The Senegal international timed his run to get ahead of his marker and then slotted the ball past the goalkeeper when one-on-one.

Salah had two more chances to add to Liverpool’s tally before the half-hour mark, but the first was blocked by a defender and the second Foster was able to come off his line and gather after a rare poor touch from the forward.

After the early exchanges, Watford had just 11 percent possession and Liverpool’s second looked inevitable.

The ball made its way across the pitch from Mane to James Milner on the overlap and the former England international put in a low cross for Firmino to tap home from close range completely unmarked in the 37th minute.

Watford continued to struggle in the second half, and it did not take long for Foster to be forced into another save, when Salah found space in the box to get a curled strike in, which the Watford goalkeeper was just able to turn over the bar.

Firmino put the game to bed in the 52nd minute. Andy Robertson attempted to find Salah at the far post when Craig Cathcart intercepted, forcing Foster into a save, but he could only parry and it was another tap-in for the Brazilian.

The visitors only had to wait two more minutes for their fourth of the afternoon with Salah, whose goal grabbed the headlines against Manchester City last time out, producing another stunning finish.

Salah showed impressive footwork to leave multiple defenders behind him as he crafted an opening for a curled strike into the far corner.

It looked as if the game would end 4-0 before Firmino turned home a ball across the box from substitute Neco Williams at the death.

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Mohamed Salah struck twice as Liverpool sauntered to a 5-1 victory against injury-struck FC Porto to seize command of a daunting looking Champions League Group B on Tuesday.

Substitute Roberto Firmino also grabbed a brace as Liverpool negotiated a tricky-looking fixture on paper with ease.

Liverpool top the group with six points from two games, ahead of Atletico Madrid who have four points.

“It’s definitely not job done as we have four games to play. We had two good performances, applied ourselves well and got results we deserved,” Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson, who made his 400th appearance for the club, said.

“It’s a good start but it is far from over.”

It was a miserable night for Porto — who have now conceded 14 goals in their last three home games against Liverpool — and especially keeper Diogo Costa who produced a woeful display.

Porto were dealt a blow before kick-off when captain and centre back Pepe was injured in the warm-up and the hosts were further handicapped when midfielder Otavio lasted only 13 minutes before hobbling off with a hamstring injury.

Liverpool took ruthless advantage of Porto’s woes with Salah tapping in following a mistake by Costa after 17 minutes. Curtis Jones crossed from the left and, as the goalkeeper fumbled, the ball fell to Salah who could not miss.

They doubled their lead just before half-time when Sadio Mane scored from close range with Costa again culpable after letting a low cross from James Milner across the area.

Salah made it 3-0 on the hour with a typically neat finish before Porto rallied with Mehdi Taremi heading past Alisson.

Any hope of a late Porto comeback was extinguished, however, when Costa made a mad dash from his goal and substitute Firmino rolled a shot into an empty net.

Porto’s misery was complete when Firmino grabbed his second of the night in the 81st minute.

After being drawn in the toughest group, Liverpool will be hugely satisfied with their start, having beaten Milan in a scintillating opener at Anfield a fortnight ago.

Liverpool have scored at least three goals in their last six matches in all competitions for only the third time in the club’s history and head into this weekend’s big Premier League clash at home to English champions Manchester City on a high.

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A heavily rotated Liverpool side beat Osasuna 3-1 in a preseason friendly at Anfield on Monday night ahead of the start of the Premier League season.

A first-half own goal from Osasuna’s Jesus Areso gifted Liverpool an early lead before Roberto Firmino added a pair of strikes before the break to give Jurgen Klopp’s side a 3-0 lead at half-time.

Osasuna’s Kike pulled one back in the 70th minute, but the damage was done at that point as Liverpool coasted to a straightforward finish in their final tuneup of the preseason.

Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara both made their first pre-season appearances, while defender Andy Robertson missed out after revealing he had ligament damage from an injury picked up during Sunday’s friendly against Athletic Bilbao.

“Scan suggests nothing too major but there’s some ligament damage which will need to mend. I will be grafting every day so I can help the team again sooner rather than later,” the Scotland international said on Twitter.

Liverpool, who begin their Premier League campaign away to Norwich City on Aug. 14, drew 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao in a friendly on Sunday.

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Roberto Firmino headed in a 90th-minute winner as Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Anfield and overtook their title rivals at the top of the Premier League table.

The Reds had the better of the first half and took a 26th-minute lead when Mohamed Salah’s shot deflected off Toby Alderweireld and looped over Hugo Lloris.

But Spurs equalised on 33 minutes when Son Heung-min slotted in his 11th Premier League goal of the season from Giovani Lo Celso’s through-ball.

Jose Mourinho’s visitors had three good chances after the break, with Steven Bergwijn prodding wide before getting in behind again and hitting the post, while Harry Kane headed wide from close range.

But Liverpool responded, and Sadio Mane hit the top of the crossbar before Firmino’s decisive contribution, with the Brazilian heading in from Andrew Robertson’s corner.

Liverpool move three points ahead of Spurs, who suffered their first defeat in 12 matches.