Jurgen Klopp expressed his delight at securing a hard-earned victory over Benfica with an aggregate scoreline of 6-4 over two legs despite making seven changes to the team that started the 2-2 draw against Manchester City. The Reds played out a 3-3 game against the Portuguese club on Wednesday.
Liverpool came into the second leg of their quarter-final fixture against Benfica at Anfield with a decisive advantage after beating the Portuguese side 3-1 in the first leg at Lisbon. It looked like the tie was decided when Ibrahim Konate scored a header following a corner in the 21st minute.
Benfica pulled one back shortly after through Goncalo Ramos as Liverpool lead 4-2 on aggregate. Diogo Jota set up Roberto Firmino for a tap-in finish in the 55th minute and the Brazilian got a second for himself ten minutes later.
The away side showed tremendous heart to pull two back through Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez although ultimately Liverpool secured their progression into the semi-finals with a 6-4 aggregate scoreline.
Villarreal now play Liverpool in the semi-finals of the European competition, the same side who beat Klopp's Liverpool in the Europa League final in his first season at Anfield, back in 2015/16. The German manager was nonchalant about his side’s defending and expressed his happiness with gaining qualification into the semis.
"The day when we qualify for the semi-finals of the Champions League and I'm not happy, come here and knock me out - it would make no sense. We made seven changes for good reason, and played a really good first half where I liked a lot of things. It's difficult to keep 100 percent concentrated, the opposition will celebrate that they got a draw, a result here, but we didn't have the perfect mindset in that moment,” Klopp told BT Sport.
"Of course, it wasn't exactly what we wanted to do, but it's not important. We played the game we played, we're through and that's all I wanted. I'm happy,” he added.