Villarreal boss Unai Emery says his side are excited to pit themselves against "the best team in the world" in Liverpool, as they try to overcome a two-goal deficit in the Champions League semi-finals.

The Yellow Submarine enter Tuesday's decisive second leg against Jurgen Klopp's men 2-0 down after the first meeting at Anfield last Wednesday.

To reach the final in Paris, Villarreal must become only the second team to overturn a two-goal first-leg deficit in a Champions League semi-final after Liverpool did so in 2018-19, losing 3-0 to Barcelona at Camp Nou before recording an incredible 4-0 home triumph.

But Villarreal struggled against Klopp's in-form Reds last week, attempting just one shot and failing to hit the target, and they could become the first team since 2003-04 (Deportivo La Coruna against FC Porto) to fail to record a shot on target across two legs of a Champions League semi-final tie.

Having previously described Klopp's outfit as the "best-ever" Liverpool team, Emery has now labelled them the finest side in world football, but insisted his players are relishing the prospect of competing with the Reds.

"We are very excited. The favourites were better at their stadium, but we managed to defend well," Emery said. 

"The team is psyched up to play our match and have our chances against the best team in the world. To live this moment, with all our people and against a rival, and passing this test would be excellent. I don't know if we'll be able to."

 

Emery is no stranger to thrilling Champions League comebacks, having been on the receiving end of one of the most famous turnarounds in history when his Paris Saint-Germain lost 6-1 at Barcelona after winning the first leg 4-0 in 2016-17's last-16.

However, the former Arsenal boss said a lot of things have changed since that classic contest, highlighting that neither team would benefit from the scrapped away goals rule on Tuesday.

"A lot of things change from the game against PSG against Barca, even things that are not in our hands. It does not favour [either team] that there is no longer the double value of away goals," he added.

"The first thing that changes is that we play at La Ceramica with our fans. We have to win, but we have to play a brutal defensive game and find our game from there."

In reaching the Champions League semi-finals for the second time in their history (the other in 2005-06), Villarreal have relied on a strong home record: Emery's men are unbeaten in seven home knockout games in the competition's history, although five of those ended level.

After Villarreal's 1-0 home win over Bayern Munich helped them dump the German champions out of the competition in the quarter-finals, defender Pau Torres says that success can serve as an inspiration for the hosts. 

"The game against Bayern can serve as an example. They were favourites and we managed to subdue them in our stadium," Torres said. "We are aware of what is at stake and what needs to be done. We have our game plan. We have seen a very strong Villarreal in important games.

"The objective is only one, no matter how it is achieved. We know that the game is long. A goal puts us in the tie.

"The coach has told us to be ourselves. We are preparing very well for the tie. We are going to be able to see a very recognisable Villarreal, with whom we all feel identified."

The Premier League's longest-serving manager is to remain in his post until 2026 after agreeing a two-year contract extension to his deal at Anfield.

Having already led the Reds to their first ever Premier League title, ending a 30-year wait for top-flight glory, and a sixth European crown since arriving in England in 2015, Klopp is looking to become the first boss to win a historic quadruple in another fine campaign.

Liverpool finished eighth when Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers during the 2015-16 season but the German's canny recruiting has helped restore the club to one of the game's global powerhouses.

And Stats Perform has used Opta data to run through the club's best signings of the Klopp era.

Sadio Mane

Having led the Reds to EFL Cup and Europa League finals after inheriting a squad built by predecessor Brendan Rodgers, Klopp went about remodelling his team in 2016, with then-Southampton forward Mane representing the biggest arrival ahead of his first full campaign at the helm.

Mane registered 13 goals and seven assists in his debut season, with only Phillipe Coutinho managing more goal contributions for the Reds (14 goals and nine assists). The Senegal forward managed his best campaign to date when scoring 26 goals in all competitions two years later, also winning a vital penalty in the opening stages of their Champions League final win over Spurs.

Including this season, Mane has hit 20 goals in four of his last five campaigns at Anfield, more than paying back his £30million price tag.

Mohamed Salah

If Mane's arrival was a success, where do you start with the debut campaign of Salah, who joined Mane and Roberto Firmino to form a fearsome Reds front three in 2017?

In all competitions, Salah scored an unbelievable 43 goals and registered 14 assists during his first season with the club as Liverpool finished as Champions League runners-up. Salah has hit 117 goals in 176 Premier League appearances for the Reds, has scored in a Champions League final victory and won two Premier League golden boots to date, with another extremely likely to follow this term.

Not bad for a player Chelsea let go for a reported £13.5million back in 2016…

Virgil van Dijk

While Salah and Mane have arguably provided the most magical moments for Klopp's Liverpool, would any of their incredible successes have been possible without the acquisition of Van Dijk in January 2018?

With former club Southampton receiving a reported £75million for his services, Van Dijk certainly did not come cheap, but it could be argued no other player can rival his impact at Anfield. Having conceded 38 league goals in 2017-18, Liverpool shipped just 22 in Van Dijk's first full season with the club as they were crowned European champions and narrowly missed out on the Premier League title.

Indeed, after racking up 97 points that season, Liverpool earned 99 when winning their first Premier League title in 2019-20, 30 more than they earned in the 2020-21 campaign when Van Dijk was sidelined by an ACL injury.

Allison 

The 2018 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid was a turning point for Klopp's Liverpool. The heavy metal football that propelled Klopp to stardom had gotten the Reds so far, but Loris Karius' costly errors demonstrated their need for a safer pair of hands.

For all that Van Dijk's brilliance contributed to Liverpool's incredible defensive record in 2018-19, Allison's arrival must also be credited after he kept 21 clean sheets and recorded a save percentage of 77.08 per cent that term. The Brazilian could yet better those statistics this season, posting 19 Premier League clean sheets to date.

Liverpool's shot-stopper even popped up with a vital goal against West Brom last season to help secure Champions League qualification.

The Hull City left-back, the silky Spaniard and Liverpool's next great attackers: The best of the rest…

Klopp's Liverpool have generally recruited brilliantly since his arrival, and while the aforementioned quartet have arguably had the greatest impact on the team's development, there are numerous others who warrant a mention.

In terms of pure value-for-money, no signing can match the £7million purchase of Andrew Robertson, with only Trent Alexander-Arnold (17) beating the Scot's 15 assists in all competitions this season.

Thiago Alcantara, who arrived from Bayern Munich ahead of lasts season, took a while to convince some doubters, largely owing to the silky midfielder's bad fortune with injuries, but the Barcelona man has been inspirational in recent weeks and no regular Reds midfielder can match his passing accuracy of 89.56 per cent this term (all competitions).

If Liverpool could be said to have had one weakness in recent seasons, meanwhile, it was a lack of reliable back-ups for Salah and Mane.

However, the form of Diogo Jota and January arrival Luis Diaz has been crucial to Liverpool's quadruple bid. With Jota averaging a goal every 134.6 minutes in the Premier League this term, and Diaz recording five goal contributions (three goals, two assists) in just seven league starts, the duo could be crucial in Klopp's next cycle.

Phil Foden has warned Manchester City they must "take more chances" following their epic Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.

The England international was on target during a thrilling showdown at the Etihad Stadium, in which Pep Guardiola's side established a narrow 4-3 advantage.

City travel to Madrid for next week's second leg knowing they will progress to a second successive final if they maintain that slight edge, having lost 1-0 to Chelsea in last year's showpiece.

The margin of victory could have been greater but for wasteful finishing. Indeed, the hosts registered 16 shots on goal, with only six hitting the target.

And Foden knows he and his team-mates must demonstrate more of a clinical edge on the big occasions.

"For the fans watching, it was obviously a great game of football," he told BT Sport.

"We are playing a side that have won the Champions League many times and if we give the ball away, they are going to punish us. 

"It is something we need to work on in the second leg. The tie is still on.

"It was a great game; end to end. We started really well and could have killed them off. In these games, we need to take more chances."

Despite only holding a single-goal advantage, Guardiola was delighted with the performance of his side and is confident they can finish the job at Santiago Bernabeu.

"We played a fantastic game against an incredible team," the head coach added.

"All around the world and for Manchester City, we are so proud. But it is about reaching the final and sometimes, football happens. 

"We go to Madrid to try to win the game. Both teams want to attack and have the quality to play. 

"Congratulations to Carlo and his team as they are so good. At the same time, we saw ourselves that we can be there."

Manchester City have the advantage in the Champions League semi-finals after edging out Real Madrid 4-3 in a thrilling first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola's side made a stunning start, striking twice in the opening 11 minutes through Kevin De Bruyne and Gabriel Jesus.

The recently crowned LaLiga champions responded with Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior sandwiching Phil Foden's header.

The hosts hit back through Bernardo Silva's stellar strike, but Benzema's nonchalant late penalty cut the gap to a single goal ahead of the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu next Wednesday.

City made a flying start and took the lead courtesy of the quickest goal scored in a Champions League semi-final.

Indeed, just 94 seconds were on the clock when De Bruyne – the hero against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals – headed home from Riyad Mahrez's delicious cross.

De Bruyne turned provider as the hosts doubled their advantage nine minutes later; his cross ricocheting kindly for Jesus to tuck away.

Mahrez and Phil Foden squandered chances to widen the margin before Madrid pulled one back as Benzema brilliantly volleyed home from Ferland Mendy's centre.

City regained their two-goal buffer within eight minutes of the restart, Foden ghosting in to head home Fernandinho's cross.

Madrid responded almost immediately as Vinicius raced down the left flank from inside his own half, before slotting past Ederson.

City regained control in the 73rd minute. Referee Istvan Kovacs played a brilliant advantage after Oleksandr Zinchenko was felled by Toni Kroos, enabling Silva to fire past a perplexed Thibaut Courtois.

But Los Blancos had the final word courtesy of Benzema's Panenka-style penalty after Aymeric Laporte handled in the box.

Manchester City striker Gabriel Jesus said he is a "big fan" of compatriot Vinicius Junior ahead of facing the Real Madrid winger in Tuesday's Champions League semi-final first leg.

Jesus, who became the first Brazilian to score four goals in a Premier League match during City's 5-1 demolition of struggling Watford on Saturday, is aiming to help Pep Guardiola's men to a first Champions League title after losing last season's final to Chelsea.

Jesus' international team-mate Vinicius has recorded 31 goal involvements for Real Madrid in all competitions this season (17 goals, 14 assists), as Carlo Ancelotti's men bid for a 14th European title.

Recalling City's last Champions League tie with Madrid in the 2019-20 last 16, in which he netted in both legs of a 4-2 aggregate triumph, Jesus said the emergence of players like Vinicius meant Tuesday's encounter represented a different prospect.

"It was very difficult and tense, as always when you play at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid," Jesus told Marca of City's trip to Madrid in March 2020. "We won, but they could have. I was happy to help my team, but now it will be different, with other players. 

"Vinicius will be playing, who was playing then but is now much more mature. He is the same player, but is now more mature. 

"I am a big fan of his, I hope he can continue to get better and better in the future. I wish him good luck, but not against me!

"It is difficult because you arrive as a young player at a club of Real Madrid's size, you play, you have opportunities, and it doesn't go well because of a lack of experience, of maturity. 

"Criticism comes and goes. I am happy for him, because of the quality he has. Everyone knew that he was as good as this. Football is like that, with highs and low. I hope that he keeps this level up to be happy in his football."

Vinicius has made the most 10-yard progressive carries of any player in the Champions League this season (62), and no player in the competition has been generated a shot following a carry (moving five or more metres with the ball) more often than the 21-year-old (21 – 10 shots, 11 chances created).

 

City are undefeated in their last three home Champions League matches against Los Blancos, winning one and drawing two, and City boss Guardiola could become the first manager to eliminate the Spanish giants from three separate Champions League knockout ties.

Jesus, meanwhile, has been linked with a move away from the Premier League leaders after making just 17 league starts for Guardiola's men this season. However, the striker says he will not make any decisions on his future until the season is over, stressing the "need" for City to win a first European crown.

"I have been here for five years and a bit. When I arrived I was very young, only 19, and both the club and the players have won many trophies," he added. 

"We need to win the Champions League, as we were so close last year and this year we are in the semi-finals. 

"I am focused on the rest of the season, on these games, which are all decisive. Then we will see what happens in terms of renewing my contract or ending a cycle."

Paris Saint-Germain secured a record-equalling 10th Ligue 1 title with a 1-1 draw at home to Lens on Saturday, but that may not be enough to keep Mauricio Pochettino in a job.

The Argentine may not be heading for Old Trafford after Manchester United confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag last week, but he could still be going out the exit door after a demoralising campaign.

With PSG crashing out of the Champions League in calamitous fashion to Real Madrid in March, reports have suggested Pochettino could be replaced by the boss of his former club Tottenham, Antonio Conte.

With Conte overseeing an improvement in Spurs' fortunes since taking the job and possessing experience of managing big egos at former clubs Juventus, Chelsea, and Inter, could the Italian be the man to get the best out of the star-studded Parisians?

Here, Stats Perform uses Opta-powered data to compare the managerial duo.

Pochettino in Paris: Domestic dominance remains, but so does European fragility 

Many saw the decision to appoint Pochettino as prudent after he made 70 appearances in a two-year playing spell in Paris, before his relationship with compatriot Lionel Messi aided the legendary forward's arrival.

It has not, however, been plain sailing for the former Tottenham boss. PSG beat Monaco to lift the Coupe de France last May but missed out on the league title to surprise package Lille last season.

Lille led PSG by a point when Pochettino arrived and pipped the Parisians to the title by that margin as Pochettino became just the second PSG boss (after Unai Emery) to fail to win the Ligue 1 title since 2012.

While PSG rebounded to win the league in dominant fashion this term, moving level with Saint-Etienne as the most successful club in Ligue 1 history, their 34 matches required to secure the title is the most they have needed since 2014-15, when they wrapped up top spot on matchday 37.

The team's reliance on Kylian Mbappe, who has contributed to 36 of the team's 76 league goals this term (22 goals, 14 assists), could also prove a huge issue next term with the 22-year-old heavily linked with a move to Madrid at the end of his contract in June.

Although the star trio of Messi, Neymar, and Mbappe have recorded 37 goals and 32 assists in the league between them this term, they could not inspire Champions League success.

If Pochettino is to depart, March's humiliating 3-2 aggregate loss to a Karim Benzema-inspired Madrid will be remembered as the decisive moment of his time in Paris.

Having beaten the Spanish giants 1-0 at home, PSG have now been eliminated in four of their nine Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg.

Fixing their fragility on the big occasions will be their foremost aim ahead of next season, which is why the appointment of a manager with one of Europe's most impressive track records has been speculated.

The case for Conte: Title wins and handling big names

Having won five league titles (four in Serie A, one in the Premier League), Conte is always mentioned when a vacancy at an elite European club comes around.

With current club Tottenham battling to ensure Champions League qualification for next season, however, could Conte be tempted to follow in Pochettino's footsteps if he departs PSG?

Conte has overseen a dramatic improvement since taking the Spurs job; before falling to a 1-0 defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion and drawing 0-0 with Brentford, Spurs had plundered 25 goals in their previous seven league games, having scored just nine in 10 league matches under predecessor Nuno Espirito Santo earlier this season.

Star duo Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have also been rejuvenated by Conte's arrival, breaking Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba's record of 36 direct Premier League goal combinations in February.

Conte's previous role at Italian giants Inter, however, might prove more relevant to what he could expect at PSG: the Italian excelled under huge expectations to deliver their first Scudetto in over a decade last season, ending a nine-year period of Juventus dominance he began by leading the Bianconeri to an unbeaten season in 2011-12.

Like Kane and Son, Romelu Lukaku – who recorded 24 goals and 11 assists in Serie A last season – profited from a direct style that saw Inter net a remarkable 89 league goals in their title-winning campaign, and has struggled to replicate that form since following Conte out of San Siro.

As well as his title wins, Conte's work with Lukaku, Kane, Son, and other big names certainly suggests he could have what it takes to manage the sizeable egos of PSG's attacking stars if he makes the move.

However, with Conte failing to progress beyond the Champions League last-eight in his career, the Italian would need to improve his European record in order to satisfy the ambitions of continental glory.

Jack Grealish firmly believes Manchester City can win a Premier League and Champions League double and insists their FA Cup loss to Liverpool will not affect their ambitions.

Pep Guardiola's men suffered a thrilling 3-2 semi-final defeat to Jurgen Klopp's team on Saturday, with Sadio Mane's double adding to Ibrahima Konate's opener to give the Reds a comfortable half-time lead.

Goals from Grealish and Bernardo Silva threatened an incredible turnaround, but City were unable to find a leveller and fell to their first Wembley defeat to Liverpool, having beaten them on penalties in both the 2016 League Cup final and the 2019 Community Shield.

City have now lost on four of their last five FA Cup semi-final appearances, but Grealish said the loss would not affect their attempts to beat Liverpool to the Premier League and Champions League trophies.

"Yes, 100 per cent [City can win both competitions]," he told the club's official media channels. "You go in there and look at the talent and experience that we have in that dressing room, I don't think anyone else in the league has one like it.

"Our performances and where we are in the league speak for itself. We just have to pick ourselves up, go again and hopefully by the end of the season we'll have [won] the Premier League and the Champions League.

"That's what you'll get at Manchester City, because you're always in [multiple] competitions come the end of the season, it's always game after game."

City's slow start to the encounter resulted in them conceding three first-half goals for the first time since April 2018, when they trailed the same opponents 3-0 at the break in the Champions League.

 

The former Aston Villa man conceded their poor display in the opening period ultimately cost them a place in the final, suggesting City would have levelled an absorbing tie had it gone on for just five more minutes.

"Obviously we started slow, for the whole of the first half Liverpool were on top," he added. "For us, it wasn't an ideal first half and in the end it cost us.

"I'm not going sit here and say excuses. I just think we came out slow. That was it. Liverpool have been the same as us, they've travelled the same amount as us in the last few weeks, played the same as us.

"We didn't have the first half that we wanted to, but we came in at half-time and the manager made a few changes. In the second half I think we were much better for it, but I think in the end it was too little, too late.

"With another five minutes I think we'd have gotten another goal, and if we took it to extra time there would only have been one winner, but it wasn't meant to be."

City will turn their attentions back to the Premier League when they host Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday, although they could begin that game in second place with Liverpool, one point behind the leaders, facing Manchester United one day earlier.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp labelled Villarreal counterpart Unai Emery "king of the cup competitions" after the Reds set up a Champions League semi-final tie with the Spanish side.

Klopp's team played out a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Benfica to seal a 6-4 aggregate victory in their quarter-final tie on Wednesday, reaching the competition's final four for a joint-record 12th time amongst English clubs (level with Manchester United).

They will meet Villarreal in next round after Emery's men sealed an incredible 2-1 aggregate victory over Bayern Munich one day earlier, setting up their first Champions League semi-final appearance since the 2005-06 season after Samuel Chukwueze's late equaliser in Bavaria.

Speaking to DAZN in Germany after watching his much-changed side progress at Anfield, Klopp was wary of the threat posed by Villarreal in the next round, calling Emery the "king" of the cups and noting they deserved their spot in the last four after eliminating two top-class opponents.

"I think Villarreal definitely deserved to go through both rounds," he said. "Whoever kicks out Bayern and Juventus [a 4-1 aggregate win in the last-16] deserves to be in the semi-finals. 

"I know that Unai Emery is a bit of the king of cup competitions. It's incredible what he pulls off.

"They'll have a clear plan. And by the time we meet, we'll have one too."

Emery has earned a reputation as a cup specialist throughout his career, winning four Europa League titles with Sevilla (three) and Villarreal (one), as well as lifting seven trophies during his time with Paris Saint-Germain.

The former Arsenal boss will compete in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time later this month, advancing to this stage in his seventh season in the competition. 

Klopp, meanwhile, has reached the final four for the fourth time in his career, three of which have come with the Reds (the other with Borussia Dortmund). Only Sir Alex Ferguson has reached this stage more times (seven) as the manager of an English club.

Meanwhile, Liverpool's two meetings with Villarreal will take place either side of a Premier League trip to Newcastle on April 30, and Klopp made clear his frustration at having to face an early kick-off on Tyneside between the two legs. 

"I've just spoken to BT Sport [who will televise the Newcastle game] and pointed out to them again that this is a c**p kick-off time," Klopp added.

"We want to play all the games that are coming up, no problem at all. But it doesn't have to be that they let us play 12:30 on Saturdays and then see how it goes, for no reason. I will never understand that."

The 54-year-old did, however, acknowledge that Liverpool's congested fixture list was the result of an exceptional season to date, and was something to be embraced.

"It's the best end-of-season run you can have," he added. "Because we only play so many times because we get so far in the different competitions."

Liverpool remain in the hunt for a historic quadruple after overcoming Benfica, and face Premier League title rivals Manchester City for a place in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

John Stones praised Manchester City's resolve, following a testy 0-0 draw that saw them advance past Atletico Madrid to the Champions League semi-finals on Wednesday.

Following City's 1-0 win in the first leg, it was a characteristically intense atmosphere both on and off the pitch at the Wanda Metropolitano, even boiling over at the end with Felipe's late red card.

City were fortunate not to concede in the second half once Atleti coach Diego Simeone brought the likes of Angel Correa and Rodrigo de Paul on from the substitutes bench, with Ederson called into action several times.

England international Stones commended his side's ability to keep Atleti at bay on the pitch, as well as not get baited into immature responses following duels.

"We know that they sometimes try and make things happen like that and we dealt with it really well," Stones told BT Sport. "It is not nice to talk about and I don't want to dwell on it because over the two legs we played incredible against such an experienced side in what they do, we kept our tempers and it is easy to get drawn into stuff like that.

"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."

Even when there was relative parity in the first, there was a sense Atleti had another gear, with Pep Guardiola opting for Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne with Rodri in midfield.

As the changes came and De Bruyne came off injured, Simeone's side largely controlled the second half, and put up 13 shots to City's two.  

Guardiola praised his side's resilience, despite admitting they had lost control as the game progressed.

"They are the champions of Spain and they played with energy in the second half . They were better than us and we were lucky we didn't concede," Guardiola told BT Sport. "In the first half we had chances, overall we are in the semi-finals – it is well deserved.

"The opponent is so tough, all the teams in Champions League come here and suffer so it is important we go through."

Jurgen Klopp expressed his delight at Liverpool progressing to the Champions League semi-finals, despite the Reds enduring a nervy finish against Benfica at Anfield.

The six-time European champions advanced to the last four of the competition for the 12th time in their history after a 3-3 draw sealed a 6-4 aggregate victory over the Primeira Liga side.

The German coach made seven changes to the side that started the entertaining 2-2 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

Nevertheless, the hosts established a 3-1 lead on the day thanks to Roberto Firmino's brace, after Goncalo Ramos cancelled out Ibrahima Konate's first-half header.

Late goals from Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez set up a nervy climax at Anfield, but it was not enough to deny the Reds a third Champions League semi-final appearance under Klopp.

He told BT Sport: "The day we qualify for the Champions League semi-final, and I'm not happy, please come and knock me out!

"We made seven changes. The situation was the last line had never played together, and it was about details, staying 100 per cent concentrated.

"It was not exactly what we wanted, but it is absolutely not important because if we played the best game of the season tonight, it wouldn't have made it more likely to get to the final. 

"We are through and that's all that matters, and I'm really happy."

Liverpool, who won the EFL Cup earlier this season, set up a semi-final showdown with Villarreal as they remained on course to complete a quadruple.

Still a point behind Premier League leaders Man City with seven games remaining, the Reds also face Pep Guardiola’s side in the FA Cup semi-finals this weekend.

Skipper Jordan Henderson added: "We did well, but we're disappointed with the goals we conceded.

"[Villarreal have] knocked out good sides [Juventus and Bayern Munich]. They're a very good team, and it will be a difficult tie. 

"We need to be ready to give it everything and hopefully, we can progress to the final.

"We want to do our best in every competition. We want to give a big push to compete in all of them."

Roberto Firmino scored twice as Liverpool progressed to the Champions League semi-finals after sealing a 6-4 aggregate victory over Benfica.

The Brazil international netted a second-half brace for the Reds, who will play Villarreal in the last four later this month.

Ibrahima Konate opened the scoring in the first half at Anfield, but Goncalo Ramos replied to keep Benfica's hopes alive.

Firmino's double put the Reds back in control and despite Roman Yaremchuk and Darwin Nunez setting up a nervy finish, Jurgen Klopp's side secured a third Champions League semi-final appearance since the German took charge in 2015.

Seeking successive away wins in the competition for the first time since 2011, Benfica went close in the 13th minute as Everton whipped a vicious 25-yard effort just wide of the post.

But Liverpool extended their aggregate advantage eight minutes later. Just like at Estadio da Luz eight days earlier, Konate broke the deadlock with a fine header from Konstantinos Tsimikas' corner.

The visitors levelled the second leg in the 32nd minute when a kind ricochet off James Milner sent Ramos clear, and the Portugal under-21 international clinically swept past Alisson.

The hosts almost restored their three-goal buffer, with Alejandro Grimaldo's outstanding last-ditch intervention denying Luis Diaz a certain tap-in from Firmino's square ball.

Liverpool did regain that cushion 10 minutes after the restart; Diogo Jota's attempted shot was drifting wide until Firmino tucked home from six yards after Jan Vertonghen's hurried clearance went straight to the Portugal international.

The Brazil international doubled his tally in the 65th minute as he beat the offside trap to volley home Tsimikas' inviting free-kick.

The visitors had the last word when Yaremchuk neatly rounded Alisson before slotting home from Grimaldo's throughball, before Nunez sprung the offside trap to set up a nervy finish at Anfield.

Robert Lewandowski will stay at Bayern Munich next season, chief executive Oliver Kahn insists, despite speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona.

The Poland international has hit 32 goals in 29 Bundesliga games for Bayern this season, scoring 47 times for his club in all competitions.

Lewandowski's latest goal came in Bayern's 1-1 draw with Villarreal on Tuesday, making him just the third player to reach 30 goals in the knockout stages of the Champions League after Cristiano Ronaldo (67) and Lionel Messi (49).

Recent speculation has linked Lewandowski with a move to LaLiga, given his Bayern contract is set to expire in just over a year's time.

But Kahn, speaking ahead of the Villarreal game, said Lewandowski would be remaining in Munich and the club would be "crazy" to consider letting him go.

"Apparently there is a competition out there to see who brings out the biggest nonsense story about Robert Lewandowski," Kahn told Amazon Prime Video.

"It is very important to mention that we have a contract that is valid for another season. If there's something to report, then we'll do it, too.

"We are not crazy and discussing a change from a player who scores between 30 and 40 goals every season."

Kahn then insisted the striker would "definitely" remain at the club for another season.

Those words would bring some comfort to Bayern fans who then watched their team bow out of the Champions League following a 1-1 draw with Villarreal, having lost 1-0 in the first leg in Spain.

Bayern have failed to win back-to-back Champions League games for the first time since their 2018-19 last-16 tie with Liverpool, when they drew 0-0 away and lost 3-1 at home.

Meanwhile, no team have suffered more Champions League quarter-final eliminations than the Bavarian giants (eight), and they have fallen in the last eight in consecutive seasons after losing to Paris Saint-Germain last term.

However, Kahn refused to criticise Julian Nagelsmann's team for their efforts and said the club were "not going to cry".

"It's always disappointing when you concede a goal just before the end," he said after the match. "We could have made it 2-0 before that. 

"You can't blame the team. They put everything into it, tried everything in the second half. 

"There are few less pleasant teams to play against [than Villarreal]. To crack this kind of defence, you need a lot of patience, you have to keep running. If there's one critique, it's that we didn't take advantage of one or two scoring opportunities and should have created one or two more chances. 

"It just wasn't meant to be. The team threw everything in. We didn't lose the battle today [but in the first leg], more commitment and will is hardly possible.

"We're not going to cry, we're going to go for it again next year in the Champions League. 

"We have a great opportunity to become league champions for the 10th time in a row. No one has ever done that in Europe. We have a nine-point lead over Borussia Dortmund. That's what we'll focus on and throw everything into that."

Villarreal coach Unai Emery told his side to savour their achievement, after they progressed past Bayern Munich to the Champions League semi-finals with a 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Coming into the second leg in Munich up 1-0 on aggregate, the Yellow Submarine continued to absorb pressure.

Robert Lewandowski levelled the tie at 1-1, seven minutes into the second half via Thomas Muller's assist, but Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal through with his goal in the 88th minute.

According to Emery, savouring that achievement must not come as a result of Villarreal's status in comparison to European football's elite, but because of the work it took to get there.

"Let's enjoy the semi-finals, knowing we are here not because of how nice we are, or to let others say we are a nice and small town, but because we've worked for it," Emery told Marca post-match.

"We are professionals, but we also have feelings and today we have played a huge game and for this, a lot had to do with all the good we did in the first leg.

"It was essential to play a perfect game defensively, because against opponents of this level it is the only way to progress. We knew that we were going to have five moments throughout the match and we took advantage of one, thanks to the fact we have approached the tie with humility."

The Europa League holders approached Bayern in the same manner that saw them through Juventus in the last-16, keeping shape and playing in transition, while trying to restrict Bayern to low quality opportunities.

It worked again in the second leg, with Bayern particularly managing a cumulative xG of 1.06 despite 15 shots in the second half, compared to Villarreal's 0.64 from only two attempts.

It mattered little to Raul Albiol, who had to mark Lewandowski, saying extra time might have been a bridge too far.

"It's been a long 90 minutes and we didn't want extra time because it would have been too much suffering against an opponent with strikers of a very high level, who have forced us to be very focused, although they have scored a goal off a half-chance," Albiol told Movistar+ post-match.

"It is a success for a town, a club, a board, a team and all of Spanish football. It has been very nice and it has shown, as we did last year in the Europa League, that we compete very well. Work and passion are fundamental."

Luka Modric described Real Madrid's 3-2 loss to Chelsea on Tuesday that sent them through the Champions League semi-finals as a "defeat that is very sweet."

An uncharacteristically poor performance that led to a 3-1 loss in the first leg at Stamford Bridge meant Chelsea had the proverbial mountain to climb at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Yet the Blues took a 3-0 lead on Tuesday, putting them up 4-3 on aggregate, before Eduardo Camavinga's substitution for Toni Kroos and Modric's sublime assist for Rodrygo changed the complexion of the game and tie. Karim Benzema's goal in extra time eventually separated the two sides.

The Croatia international said afterwards that, given his familiarity with Chelsea, he knew the return leg was not going to be routine.

"We knew after the first leg that we will have a tough game, because for me, they [Chelsea] are the most difficult team to play against," Modric told BT Sport. "I watch them a lot because of my friend Mateo [Kovacic] and they are a very tough, physical team, very compact and we knew it was going to be tough.

"In the end, we showed great character, great desire, great togetherness and we managed to turn it around, which is amazing. A defeat that is very sweet."

Tuesday's game resembled the first leg in last year's Champions League semi-final between the two, with Chelsea pressing intensely and piercing through in transition.

Thomas Tuchel's side dictated a very high tempo early, but Madrid were able to feel their way through the game, making sufficient adjustments and gaining momentum late.

"Unbelievable to describe this game. We were dead until the goal we scored," Modric said. "Chelsea scored three good goals, maybe the first goal was a bit lucky with the deflection, but I cannot say that we played a bad game."

According to Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, his side levelling on aggregate took momentum away from Chelsea, while also saving particular praise for the 36-year-old Ballon d'Or winner.

"The changes were important, in retrospect I must say that with the goal of 3-1, they took a good blow on a psychological level," he said.

"Modric was amazing with that assist, from there we build the second goal and then we managed."

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel insists he has "no regrets" after his side's dramatic Champions League quarter-final exit to Real Madrid on Tuesday.

The Blues overturned Madrid's 3-1 advantage from the first leg last week through goals from Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner, yet Rodrygo's volley forced the tie into extra time.

Karim Benzema had the final say, heading home six minutes into additional time to seal a 5-4 aggregate victory. 

Chelsea became just the second English team to score three goals away against Los Blancos in all European competitions, after Manchester United did so in a 3-3 draw in the European Cup in May 1968.

That was not enough to help the holders into the last four, however, and although Tuchel was proud of his players' efforts, he lamented their inability to cut out the mistakes over both legs.

"We were unlucky," he told a media conference. "That is why we are disappointed. We were beaten by individual quality and conversion. We made two mistakes, two ball losses. We deserved to go through after this match today. It was not meant to be.

"We have to reduce our amount of mistakes and we could not reduce them to a minimum over the two legs. We had two crucial ball losses.

"There are no regrets. These are the kind of defeat you can take with pride as a sportsman.

"The players lived up to the plan in a very different way that we did against Brentford and in the first leg. 

"We were very disciplined on the ball and very active and invested off the ball. We showed courage and from there we showed our quality. This is the right way to do it. If we have this kind of effort, we are a special team."

Marcos Alonso saw an effort ruled out by VAR for handball shortly before Werner's third, and Tuchel was disappointed that referee Szymon Marciniak did not view the incident on the pitchside monitor before the strike was disallowed.

Asked if decisions went against his side, Tuchel said: "Not only today. When you play against Real Madrid, maybe you don't expect everyone has the courage.

"I felt the little decisions in the first leg and today as well. I didn't see the goal but I am super disappointed he didn't come out and check it on his own. You should stay the boss and not give the decisions to someone in a chair and who is isolated."

Chelsea are next in action on Sunday when they face Crystal Palace in an FA Cup semi-final clash. 

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