SLB
Benfica
1
FT
Agg: 3-1
3
LIV
Liverpool
See Scores

UEFA Champions League scores: Manchester City and Liverpool both win their quarterfinal first legs

The Champions League semifinals got underway with Manchester City defeating Atletico Madrid 1-0 and Liverpool winning 3-1 over Benfica in Portugal. It wasn't easy for either, but the Premier League sides displayed their dominance and moved themselves half a step closer to meeting in another all Premier League final.

Manchester City weather the storm

City struggled during the first half against an Atletico Madrid side that was able to put all 11 players behind the ball to defend for their lives. But Pep Guardiola seemed to expect a hard-fought affair, which is why he left Phil Foden on the bench to begin the tie. Entering in the 68th minute, Foden pushed the pace of the match leading to his assist on Kevin de Bruyne's game-winning goal.

While Diego Simeone will be happy that City only got two of their 15 shots on target during a match that Jose Gimenez wasn't available for, the lack of production in attack for Atleti was disappointing. Sure they only had 30 percent of possession, but not attempting an official shot in the first leg is cause for concern. Can Simeone's side score a goal without conceding at home? 

Joao Felix and Renan Lodi were constantly starting counters from their own halves without support. Atletico's forwards were essentially positioned as central midfielders for long stretches of the match. A telling stat is that Atletico Madrid as a team attempted 21 passes in the final third of the pitch. Five starters for Manchester City attempted more than Atletico's entire team combined. Even Foden attempted 11 in only 22 minutes. It's one thing to park a bus, but quite another to build an immobile wall as Simeone did. And when that wall springs a leak and concedes, it's not a good day at the office.

Liverpool take the first leg

Liverpool are in the driver's seat of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal tie with SL Benfica after a 3-1 win in Lisbon on Tuesday. However, Jurgen Klopp's men made it harder for themselves by allowing their Portuguese hosts back into the contest after they led by two goals at the break.

Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane's goals had put the Reds in control at 2-0, but Darwin Nunez was allowed to halve the deficit moments into the second half through a Konate error before Benfica did their best to level. Ultimately, they were unable to get the second and Liverpool and Liverpool tacked an extra one on for safety with ex-FC Porto man Luis Diaz scoring against his former rivals to add to his assist.

Benfica's defense comes back to Earth

Benfica's defense gave up two goals in the first half, so maybe it's not as tight as the teams heroic second leg against Ajax suggested. Nunez's goal keeps them in this tie, albeit barely, but they must be tougher to score against at Anfield if they want to stand a chance. That said, Nelson Verissimo's men can feel aggrieved that they did not pull level after they got one back as they were denied more than once.

Curse of the ex-rival

Of all the players in the Liverpool squad that Benfica will have known all about, Luis Diaz was right up there having only left Portugal in January. However, he picked up where he left off with the Lisbon giants' rivals by providing a direct assist and scoring himself which may well be enough to stamp the Reds' semifinal berth already. Benfica's fans certainly haven't forgotten about Diaz, who had a stick thrown at him after his decisive goal.

All it takes is one mistake to be punished

A Liverpool lapse at the back let Benfica in through Konate and although that is not enough to suggest that Klopp's side have major frailties to address, it is the sort of thing which needs stamping out if they want to go all the way. The Reds also looked a little hesitant after the hosts pulled one back which was unusual given their superior collective experience. Ultimately the stats won't tell a picture of a close match, Liverpool's 3-1 score was backed up by a 17-9 shot edge and if the expected goals tally of 3.10 to 1.04 is to be believed is a fair reflection of the match, but for about 10 minutes, between when Nunez scored and when Liverpool's three substitutes, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and Jordan Henderson entered the game and stabilized the affair, the result seemed to truly hang in the balance.

Plying to win is still important 

While it's understandable why Atletico Madrid built a wall and hid behind it for most of the match, especially now that away goals don't matter, there aren't many days that City will be as vulnerable on the counter as they were Tuesday. Minutes into the match Marcos Llorente had Nathan Ake beaten and it seemed like Simeone was going to have his target the center-back turned left-back and torture him for 90 minutes. Then the counters stopped. Instead the task of scoring was left to Joao Felix taking on four City players at a time. Time and again he was left alone to lose the ball because no one was trailing to help him out.

Being a little more aggressive in those situations may have led to Atletico conceding earlier but then again, they conceded anyway. Manchester City should get credit for killing the game, using passing not only to create their own chances but also to deny Atleti transition opportunities, but they didn't have much opposition either.

Sparkplug Phil Foden

Talk about an instant impact. Foden was only on the field for two minutes before assisting de Bruyne's goal. He was unlucky not to assist more given how often he was on the ball and driving at the Atleti back line. It showed that Guardiola got his tactics right on the night. Foden is dangerous enough against fresh legs, but it was like he was playing at double speed against Atletico Madrid for after he came on.

Select player Ratings:

Ibrahima Konate, Liverpool -- Hero and villain by scoring the opening goal for Liverpool and allowing Benfica back in it with a howling error at the other end. Literally, the only foot he put wrong all game, but a costly one. Rating: 6

Darwin Nunez, Benfica -- Alive to the chance when Benfica needed him to be, the Uruguayan's limited overall contribution remains outweighed by the important goals which he provides as really the team's only goal threat. Rating: 6

Luis Diaz, Liverpool -- A goal and an assist and a significant role in another goal, it was a strong outing from the Colombian on his return to Portugal just months after he made his move from Porto. Rating: 8

Rodri, Manchester City -- One of the reasons why defending looks so easy for City at times is Rodri gliding around the center of the pitch. His 12 recoveries were almost double that of anyone else playing in the match and he constantly ticks defense over into attack. Rating: 8

Renan Lodi, Atletico Madrid -- Lodi could have sat in a chair while doing his job today. He wasn't directly involved much defensively or in attack due to Simeone's conservative tactics. It was a day to forget. Rating: 5

Kevin de Bruyne, Manchester City -- Three chances created, five shots, and a goal on a busy day in attack for the Belgian. With City spending much of the match without a true striker, de Bruyne showed up to play the role of clinical finisher in a big way. Rating: 9

Second leg outlooks

Liverpool vs. Benfica: With two goals now in it, this one is not as alive as it might have been. In any case, Benfica could yet force the issue if they score the opener in Liverpool. However, Klopp's men remain firm favorites to progress and this will still be a very tough task for the Eagles to do much more than give the Reds a run for their money overall.

Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester City: City are only ahead one goal but it feels like more. Ruben Dias may be available in the second leg making them tougher to score on and Atleti will need to open up and try and put the ball in the net in that fixture. City will be more relaxed as well with their cushion, and despite being away from home, their job will be easier given their lead in the tie. It's hard to see things being leveled up in Madrid.

Wednesday's broadcast schedule

Live updates
(33)
See New Posts
Pinned

Brave Benfica bow down

Unlucky to go down 3-1, but Luis Diaz was a known threat to Benfica and he walks away from Lisbon with a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win which puts Liverpool well and truly in control of the tie.

Pinned

It's a win for Manchester City but Atletico Madrid will be content

0 official shot attempts for Diego Simeone's side but they were able to hold Manchester City to only one goal despite their 15 shot attempts. The goal was a good one through quite the strike by Kevin de Bruyne. Gabriel Jesus will be suspended for the second leg but as City have played plenty of games with false nines, they won't be too concerned.

April 5, 2022, 8:53 PM
Pinned

Phil Foden, the sparkplug this game needed

Beating everyone to get to the byline, Foden played the ball to Bernardo. Instead of shooting, he played it to de Bruyne who wasn't able to get his shot on target but a second could be coming.

April 5, 2022, 8:38 PM
Pinned

Give City their chances and they'll find a way! GOAL de Bruyne!

Welcome to the match Phil Foden, threading the eye of the needle, he got the ball to de Bruyne who lashed home the finish to put City ahead 1-0.

April 5, 2022, 8:28 PM
Pinned

Another penalty appeal!

Raheem Sterling went down following a bump in the box but nothing was given. Tensions are flaring as De Paul earns himself a yellow card as well. 20 minutes remaining but still only two shots on target to write home about.

April 5, 2022, 8:26 PM
Pinned

City gets their first chance, and it still doesn't result in a shot on target

A beautiful settle from Gundogan leads to him trying the ball to Raheem Sterling but the connection is off by less than an inch. Atletico were able to go on their first real counter but still nothing doing 50 minutes in. It is clear that tweaks are coming.

April 5, 2022, 8:09 PM
Pinned

49' Or are they?

Game on! Nunez pulls one back for Benfica and we have 40 more minutes to look forward to. Konate, hero with the opener, must do better there.

Pinned

Benfica buried?

Two goals down already, the Eagles need a big second half to salvage anything from this opening leg to keep the tie alive. Estadio da Luz could be the key if they get behind the players, but it remains an almighty ask.

Pinned

That was a half of soccer...

City are frustrated having taken six shots (four from outside the box) for an xG of .21 as Atletico Madrid are essentially playing a strikerless 5-5-0 formation. Simeone will take that half but with City on track for almost 800 pass attempts for the match, it feels like only a matter of time until they're able to find a way into the net. Atletico will need to win set plays to ensure they have a shot.

April 5, 2022, 7:50 PM
Pinned

34' Liverpool double up

Mane teed up by Diaz and this could get ugly for Benfica.

Pinned

A look back at Liverpool's opener 

April 5, 2022, 7:40 PM
Pinned

32 minutes in and City and Atletico are both executing their gameplan.

The pass maps early are funny as the average positioning for each City player but Ederson is in the attacking half of the field while every Atleti player is parked in their defensive half. It only takes an inch for City to score a goal so it'll be interesting to see who blinks first.

April 5, 2022, 7:36 PM
Pinned

20 minutes into things for City vs. Atleti

Four shots all by Manchester City but zero on target. City has 70 percent of the possession but they're having trouble getting shots in good positions as shown by their .13 xG so far. Atletico are content to play without the ball but will need to take their chance if they get any.

April 5, 2022, 7:24 PM
Pinned

17' Konate opener

The visitors lead as Robertson provides for the defender to draw first blood! What do the hosts have in response? 

Pinned

Liverpool fans

It was a shame to see away supporters struggling to get into Estadio da Luz in time for kick-off...

Pinned

15' Salah saved

Almost the opener for Liverpool, but the Egyptian was denied by Vlachodimos. It will be a long night for Benfica if the Reds keep this up! 

Pinned

14' Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva both looked for could but nothing was awarded

Two clean tackles in the box by Koke were looked at but both City men were already going to ground and wanted to use it to their advantage.

April 5, 2022, 7:16 PM
Pinned

9' Joao Felix takes on four City defenders...

... and the result is as expected. Atletico's attacks early are tough as only one or two guys are going forward at once but more people can't be sent to support unless the match is still level late for defensive protection.

April 5, 2022, 7:10 PM
Pinned

4' Manchester City are going long early 

It's clear that Atletico will be sitting deep for much of the game but Manchester City has tried to hit the ball over the top to take advantage of that. Llorente and Ake then ended up in a foot race that was narrowly won by Ake. A quicker start than expected in Manchester.

April 5, 2022, 7:05 PM
Pinned

Less than ten minutes until we get going

Should be two tightly contested matches.

April 5, 2022, 6:52 PM
Pinned

City vs. Atleti ones to watch

Ederson as City's goalkeeper will feel good about a clean sheet, even with Atleti's four goals against Deportivo Alaves on Saturday. Atleti will pressure and aim to get City to turn it over, but no team in the world passes like City. And no club handles pressure like them with their quick, efficient touches. If they can keep the ball on the ground and be smart in their distribution, they can limit the chances and get a key clean sheet.

Jose Maria Gimenez as not only is he Atleti's key center back, he is a leader in his respective position up against some of the best in the business from City. The Uruguayan is a tank at the back, but he will have to be super cautious when going up against tricky customers like Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva or Riyad Mahrez, knowing that one wrong challenge can dig a huge hole. Expect Gimenez to be a tad less aggressive than usual and look to stay in front of English outfit's attackers.

Pinned

Benfica vs. Liverpool things to watch

Benfica's defense nullifying Ajax's attack was key in the last round so Jan Vertonghen and Nicolas Otamendi will once again play vital roles up against the likes of Mo Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz. Intriguingly, both Vertonghen and Otamendi have Premier League experience while Diaz moved to Anfield from FC Porto so there will be plenty of familiarity. Adding to the stakes is the fact that Otamendi is a booking away from second-leg suspension so will be walking a tightrope from the off.

Also, Thiago Alcantara has the technical ability to dominate and dictate this sort of contest and he will be one of the main dangers Benfica seek to neutralize. However, this is a battle which I ultimately expect him to come out on top in.

Pinned

And the squads from Benfica vs. Liverpool

Benfica Starters: Odysseas, Gilberto, Otamendi, Vertonghen, Grimaldo, Weigl, Taarabt, Rafa, Everton, Ramos, Darwin

Reserves: Helton Leite, Valentino, Morato, André Almeida, Meïte, João Mário, Paulo Bernardo, Diogo Gonçalves, Gil Dias, Nemanja, Seferovic, Yaremchuk.

Liverpool Starters: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Keita, Thiago, Mane, Diaz, Salah

Reserves: Kelleher, Milner, Firmino, Gomez, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Minamino, Jota, Tsimikas, Matip, Elliott

April 5, 2022, 6:07 PM
Pinned

We've got team news! First up Manchester City vs. Atletico Madrid

City Starters: Ederson, Stones, Laporte, Ake, Cancelo, Rodrigo, Gundogan, Bernardo, Mahrez, De Bruyne, Sterling

Reserves: Steffen, Carson, Jesus, Grealish, Zinchenko, Gernandinho, Foden, Egan-Riley, MBete

Atletico Starters: Oblak, Lodi, Reinildo, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Koke, Kondogbia, Llorente, Griezmann, Felix

Reserves: Lecompte, Christian, Wass, Hermoso, Ibra, De Paul, Lemar, Serrano, Surarez, Correa, Cunha

April 5, 2022, 5:58 PM
Pinned

Be sure to check out the ¡Que Golazo! preview for all the quarter final matches

April 5, 2022, 5:22 PM
Pinned

Team news

Manchester City: While City has close to a clean bill of health, Kyle Walker is suspended for the tie while Ruben Dias is still injured. This will likely see either Nathan Ake or Oleksandr Zinchenko come into the lineup. With all of his regular attackers available, Guardiola will need to figure out how to best balance the squad for this one.

Atletico Madrid: Diego Simeone will be without Yannick Carasco due to suspension and Jose Gimenez could miss out due to injury after being subbed off late versus Alaves. While the injury hasn't been confirmed, it would be a big blow to Atletico if he misses out with Filipe likely filling in.

April 5, 2022, 5:22 PM
Pinned

Atletico Madrid has had a good defense until facing the top sides in Champions League play

Diego Simeone's team has allowed five goals in two games versus Liverpool in the competition compared to four goals in six games versus everyone else. With Jose Gimenez in doubt for the match, it's anyone's guess what defense will show up today. While Jan Oblak has been the picture of consistency, everyone will need to be on their game to stop Guardiola's machine.

City are such a good passing side that they can lull you to sleep kicking the ball around only to ramp up the pace at the last second with a Joao Cancelo ball over the top. Focus will be key.

April 5, 2022, 5:19 PM
Pinned

Benfica latest

The Eagles are coming off of a disappointing loss in their last league match against SC Braga, but scored goals from Darwin Nunez and Joao Mario in the 3-2 loss. Benfica have not been held without a goal since before Christmas, and more recently, has scored at least twice in eight of their last 10 matches across all competitions. Nunez now has four goals in his last six appearances and has been supported by Goncalo Ramos, who has scored three times during that stretch.

Lucas Verissimo and Rodrigo Pinho remain injuried, while Adel Taarabt is the latest injury. But the side does enter with a day more of rest having played on Friday, though that was a poor showing in a 3-2 loss at Braga. Out of the title race in Portugal already, they can shift their focus to UCL now and look for another upset. To do so, budding superstar striker Darwin Nunez must deliver. He's got 27 goals in 34 games this season.

Pinned

Pressure off

Benfica are coming off of a 1-0 second-leg win over Ajax three weeks ago while they lost in last year's third qualifying round to PAOK. In subsequent Europa League play, the Eagles made it as far as the round of 32 but did not advance further. With this edition already a success, can Benfica stymie the Reds?

The Portuguese giants has plenty of experience winning domestic league titles, but they are yet to advance beyond the quarterfinals in any of their 16 UEFA Champions League appearances. Benfica will get another crack this Tuesday against Liverpool.

See More