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UCL: Liverpool cruise to semi-finals, Man City squeeze in

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Liverpool and Manchester City will resume their domestic duel in the FA Cup on Saturday after the pair reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in contrasting styles on Wednesday.

Jürgen Klopp’s Reds proved too strong for Benfica in spite of being held to a 3-3 draw at Anfield a week after winning 3-1 in Lisbon.

They now meet Villarreal, conquerors of Bayern Munich, in the last four ties which begin at the end of the month.

Manchester City meanwhile endured a nervous night at Atletico Madrid as they secured a goalless draw in their quarter-final second leg which gave them progress 1-0 on aggregate.

Pep Guardiola’s English Premier League leaders now face a mouth-watering clash against record winners Real Madrid.

But they will first focus on Wembley where they meet Liverpool, a point behind them domestically, in the FA Cup semi-finals.

The teams also drew 2-2 in Manchester last weekend and Klopp took the chance to rotate heavily given the heavy schedule facing his players.

Star forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were rested along with defender Virgil Van Dijk but Liverpool always had an element of control.

“I think we’d want to do better overall, but we started the game well and could have scored one or two more goals,” Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson said.

“It was really comfortable but we’re disappointed at the goals we conceded. We got through to the next round which is the most important thing.”

Ibrahima Konate, who opened the scoring in Portugal, repeated the trick by heading in Konstantinos Tsimikas’ 21st minute corner-kick.

But Gonçalo Ramos scored to draw the visitors level from a break of the ball soon after.

“It’s fantastic for me to score in the Champions League for the first time, but nobody is happy,” Ramos said. “We ended up going out, but we have had a great journey.”

Farcical defending ended Benfica’s hopes when goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos spilled the ball and Roberto Firmino tapped in a cross from Diogo Jota 10 minutes after the restart.

Firmino then volleyed his second in the 65th from an excellent Tsimikas free-kick, only for Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Núñez to draw Benfica level.

Only a brilliant save from Alisson stopped Núñez immediately cutting the deficit to one with seven minutes remaining.

But Liverpool settled down and saw out the tie.

Atletico Madrid started strongly in Madrid in the reverse of their defensive display in Manchester.

But the only first-half chance fell to Manchester City’s Ilkay Gündoğan, who stroked a shot off the post.

Manchester City were pinned back in a feisty second period, but Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo De Paul fired just wide.

“We had so much desire and hunger in order to achieve what we’ve done so far in this competition and now we can be proud of what we tried to achieve here,” said Atletico midfielder Koke.

“But we couldn’t quite reach the semi-finals.”

While defender Felipe was sent off in an injury-time brawl, there was still one more chance.

Ángel Correa struck straight at Manchester City keeper Ederson which ended Atletico Madrid’s hopes of a semi-final derby with Madrid rivals Real Madrid.

They had eliminated holders Chelsea in the last eight on Tuesday.

“We knew it was not an easy place to come, it is a hostile environment, it was a difficult night all round and how we defended and controlled ourselves over the two legs was incredible,” Manchester City defender John Stones said.

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