RPOOL (4) v/s BENFICA (1)
FERNANDO TORRES scored twice to fire Liverpool into the semi-finals of the Europa League with a crushing victory over Benfica.
The Spaniard capped another memorable European night for the Anfield faithful with a second half double as the Reds overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit.
Dirk Kuyt and Lucas both netted for Rafael Benitez’s men in the first half before Torres looked to have rounded things off with a third just after the break. Oscar Cardozo gave the Portuguese side hope with a long range free-kick, only for Torres to seal the tie with his second of the night to set up a dream last-four clash against his former side Atletico Madrid.
Torres looked uncomfortable early on, having picked up a knee injury in Sunday’s draw with Birmingham, as Benfica took control. But thankfully for boss Rafael Benitez, the Reds managed to find an extra gear and claw their way back into the tie – albeit through a bizarre turn of events.
Kuyt’s close range header from Steven Gerrard’s corner was initially ruled out for offside by the assistant referee, only for the decision to be correctly overturned by referee Bjorn Kuipers. Liverpool didn’t look back and six minutes later it was 2-0. Gerrard slid the ball through to midfield partner Lucas and the Brazilian rounded keeper Julio Cesar before slotting home.
At the other end Benfica still looked dangerous, with Reds keeper Pepe Reina twice saving Cardozo free-kicks, but Torres sprung to life just before the hour, latching onto Kuyt’s first-time ball from the right to lash home him his first of the night.
Cardozo finally got his just deserts with a free-kick which fizzed past Reina to put the Portuguese to within a goal, but Torres settled the nerves eight minutes from time when racing into the box and lofting the ball over substitute keeper Moreira.
Liverpool v Atletico Madrid
Fulham v Hamburg