Luis Diaz of Liverpool celebrates after scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Leg One match between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at Estadio da Luz on April 05, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Liverpool player ratings, heroes and villains: three shine but Mo Salah again struggles

Liverpool defeated Benfica 3-1 in the Champions League quarter-final first leg.

Liverpool have taken a giant leap towards the next stage of the Champions League after defeating Benfica in the quarter-final first leg at the Estádio da Luz.

Ibrahima Konate, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz were all on target for the Reds in a 3-1 win - and they now have one foot in the door of the semi-finals ahead of next week’s return clash at Anfield.

Liverpool opened the scoring in the 17th minute when Konate powered home a header from a corner.

Then Sadio Mane doubled the Reds’ lead on 34 minutes. Diaz headed down a long ball and Mane slotted home with ease.

Yet Liverpool gifted Benfica a lifeline four minutes into the second half. Konate swiped at thin air when trying to clear a cross and Darwin Nunezwas the one who profited and tucked home.

However, Klopp’s side restored their two-goal advantage in the dying embers when Luis Diaz rounded the home keeper and finished calmly into an empty net.

The heroes

- Luis Diaz: a goal and an assist for the winger on his return to Portugal having been signed from Porto. The fact that he was left on the pitch over Mane and Mo Salah speaks volumes about his importance.

- Trent Alexander-Arnold: a fine display from the right-back. He was Liverpool’s chief creator and showed off his potent passing arsenal.

- Naby Keita: the midfielder has his critics but he was Liverpool’s best midfielder. Provided thrust, nous and desire in the middle of the park. Klopp’s decision to play Keita paid off.

The villains

- Mo Salah: Liverpool’s 28-goal top scorer has hit a real dip in form. Well below his best for a second straight game and spurned a big chance. A worry ahead of Sunday’s trip to Manchester City.

- Benfica’s defence: poor defending allowed Konate a free header and things soon unravelled from there.

Player ratings

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