Friday, April 9, 2010

Torres with convincing struck twice, Dirk Kuyt and Lucas were also on target with a 4-1 victory against Benfica (agg 5-3)

- Kuyt 27,
- Leiva 34,
- Torres 58,
- Torres 82

- Cardozo 70

**FERNANDO Torres struck twice as Liverpool produced a devastating attacking performance to power past Benfica into the Europa League semi-finals last night.

Dirk Kuyt and Lucas were also on target on a pulsating night at Anfield as the Reds overturned a 2-1 deficit from the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Oscar Cardozo threatened to make life difficult with a goal that made it 3-1 on the night but Torres' second delightful finish ended the contest.

It was a performance that came in marked contrast to Liverpool's struggles in the Barclays Premier League and their increasingly forlorn attempts to finish fourth.

Benfica actually started the stronger and had an early opportunity after Jamie Carragher pushed the charging Pablo Aimar over on the edge of the box. Angel di Maria's free-kick went straight into the wall and was put behind for a corner.

Liverpool, though, began to take charge. They levelled the tie in the 27th minute after Yossi Benayoun won a corner on the left. Steven Gerrard delivered a perfect cross for Dirk Kuyt from the resulting set-piece and the Dutchman headed home from six yards.

Liverpool followed up with a second goal six minutes later as Gerrard slipped Lucas in on goal with a superb ball. The Brazilian showed great composure to swerve around Julio Cesar and tap in his first goal in 11 months.

The job was far from done, however, and Liverpool survived a couple of scares before the break as Cardozo fired a free-kick at Jose Reina and Sidnei had a shot deflected for a corner.

But Liverpool's deserved third arrived just before the hour from a swift counter-attack. Lucas was struck between the legs as the Reds defended a free-kick inside their own half. Benayoun raced into the Benfica half and spread the ball wide for Kuyt, whose first-time cross was swept in by the onrushing Torres.

Benfica, though, pulled one back on 70 minutes after Kuyt fouled Ramires on the edge of the area. Cardozo, who scored two penalties in the first leg, blasted in a low shot through a gap in the wall.

The Reds battled on and showed the resolve to kill off the tie eight minutes from time. Lucas won the ball in midfield with a powerful challenge and Javier Mascherano sent Torres clear with a brilliant pass. Torres made no mistake as he raced into the area and clipped the ball over keeper Jose Moreira – a replacement for the injured Cesar just moments earlier – with delicate poise. Torres will now face his former club, Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals after their 0-0 draw with Valencia saw them win on away goals.

Team Line-Ups :

Liverpool: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Agger, Gerrard (Aquilani 88), Benayoun (El Zhar 90), Mascherano, Lucas, Kuyt, Torres (Ngog 86)

Benfica: Julio Cesar (Jose Filipe 79); Luisao, David Luiz, Sidnei; Aimar (Coentrao 86), Martins (Kardec 66), Filipe Marcos, Javi Garcia, In Maria; Ramires, Cardozo


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