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Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez: "We played against a good team and knew we'd have to work hard. We took advantages of their weaknesses and the third goal was really, really good. Fernando will be excited about going back to his old club, but I haven't seen him because he's with the drug testers."
From Rick from Edwinstowe, via text to 81111: "I know people have enjoyed watching Barcelona in Europe this year, but for me watching Fulham has been equally entertaining."
From Luxinho on 606:
"The Valencians were enraged after one of their players was hauled to the ground whilst trying to get his head on a cross... the tug on his shirt was so fierce that it tore a hole in it. I believe the manager was sent off in the protests. To be fair they have a point."
2204: Europa League semi-finals: Thursday, 22 April Hamburg v Fulham Atletico Madrid v Liverpool Thursday, 29 April Liverpool v Atletico Madrid Fulham v Hamburg
2202: Here he is - Europa League Danny: "An injury-time strike from Paolo Guerrero means Hamburg beat Standard 3-1 away and 5-2 on aggregate. They play Fulham in the semis. Atletico Madrid finished 0-0 with Valencia and 2-2 on aggregate - Atletico progress on away goals and so Liverpool's Fernando Torres will be facing his former club in the last four."
Liverpool's Jamie Carragher: "They are a very good side, Benfica - I'm sure they'll be in the Champions League next season. They were the team everyone wanted to stay away from in the draw, so it's a great result."
2159: Tell you who aren't pleased tonight - the Valencia players. They surround the referee at full-time in their game against Atletico Madrid, some of them are fuming. Europa League Danny on the way.
2157: Anyone fancy a Liverpool v Fulham final?
2155: Full-time Wolfsburg 0-1 Fulham (agg: 1-3) What more can you say about Fulham, Roy Hodgson and Bobby Zamora? They have just booked a place in the last four of the Europa League. For a club of that size, it's an absolutely magnificent achievement.
2154: Full-time Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg: 5-3) Top-drawer performance from the Reds and sets them up perfectly for some very important league games coming up. Benfica weren't very good tonight though, were they?
2151: Into injury time at Anfield and in Germany and there will be three minutes at both places.
2149: Steven Gerrard's turn for a standing ovation and a rest as Alberto Aquilani comes on for the Reds skipper.
2147: Liverpool hero Fernando Torres is taken off, in much happier circumstances than the last time with a standing ovation. David Ngog comes on in his place.
2145: Great drama in Germany. Edin Dzeko cracks a left-foot shot against the post with Mark Schwarzer beaten and as Grafite sends the rebound goalwards, Brede Hangeland brilliantly flicks the ball off the line.
Liverpool goal: That must be that. Fernando Torres is sent clean through and he shows his class, racing clear and clipping beautifully over Moreira from about 15 yards out. Delightful finish, game over.
2143: GOAL Liverpool 4-1 Benfica (agg: 5-3) (Torres)
2142: How have Fulham not wrapped this up? Danny Murphy's goalbound shot from a Paul Konchesky cross is somehow cleared off the line by Andrea Barzagli.
2140: Long stoppage at Anfield because the Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar has gone down after a collision with Dirk Kuyt from a corner. He's walking, but he looks very groggy. Moreira goes on in his place.
2139: Damien Duff's lobbed pass finds Simon Davies through on goal but his shot is superbly saved by the foot of Diego Benaglio, who directs the ball over. A minute later, Bobby Zamora has the ball in the net but the linesman's flag denies him.
From Paul in Didcot, via text to 81111: "Seven goals in the Liverpool-Benfica contest scored all in exactly the same sequence as the Man United-Bayern Munich tie. So far."
2137: ... Unbelievable. Oscar Cardozo curls the free-kick towards the top corner and it hits Fernando Torres on the head, flying inches wide of Pepe Reina's left-hand post. My word that was too close.
2136: Ramires runs at the Liverpool defence and Yossi Benayoun brings him down 22 yards out. It's in almost exactly the same position as their goal, minutes ago...
2135: Great save from Fulham keeper Mark Schwarzer in Germany, tipping away an Edin Dzeko volley from a corner from the right.
2134: Fulham look likelier to score than Wolfsburg in the other game, but Bobby Zamora's pass is too far ahead of Zoltan Gera and the chance goes begging. Are the Cottagers going to dump the Bundesliga champions of our Europe in their own backyard?
Benfica goal: Oh would one of you just make life easier for everyone? Liverpool concede a free-kick 22 yards out and Oscar Cardozo thumps it low and past Pepe Reina, courtesy of a slight - but crucial - deflection off Steven Gerrard. About 20 minutes left.
2131: GOAL Liverpool 3-1 Benfica (agg: 4-3) (Cardozo)
2123: Wolfsburg bring on Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins for the last half-hour or so. They still trail Fulham 1-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate.
2121: A superb extended period of possession from Fulham results in a lofted pass over the top from Danny Murphy for Bobby Zamora but the striker's first touch is heavy and allows Diego Benaglio the chance to come out and smother his shot.
Liverpool goal: He's got his critics - but that goal is down to Dirk Kuyt, for me. Liverpool defend a Benfica free-kick and break with real pace, thanks to Yossi Benayoun. His ball to the right-hand side looks a bit too strong, but Kuyt does superbly to slide a fabulous cross to the edge of the six-yard box, where Fernando Torres is on hand to slam into the Portuguese team's net. No extra-time now.
2119: GOAL Liverpool 3-0 Benfica (agg: 4-2) (Torres)
From TorreSamK9 on Twitter:
"Nervous Liverpool fan, would like to point out this weekend Liverpool face Fulham knowing only a win will do."
2116: It's all in the detail - Europa League Danny: "Just a little bit of Europa detail for you. Mladen Petric's second goal for Hamburg is, by all accounts, a quite sensational overhead kick. Set the video recorder (or modern-day equivalent) if you can."
2115: So close for Liverpool - a cross from the right from Steven Gerrard is almost turned into his own net by Luisao, only for Julio Cesar to pull off a top save and keep it out.
2114: Quiet opening to the second half in Germany, more credit to Fulham for keeping the hosts quiet. A perfect Aaron Hughes tackle on Edin Dzeko sums them up, the Cottagers.
2112: The ball breaks to the edge of the Liverpool box and instead of leaving it to dangerous winger Angel di Maria, defender David Luiz takes it upon himself to curl way over Pepe Reina's crossbar.
2111: Benfica coach Jorge Jesus, who they call the 'Special Two' in Portugal (think about it), goes arm-waving crazy after a mis-placed pass from one of his players at Anfield. If they score, we go to extra-time. Never forget that.
2109: There don't seem to be many fans watching at the Volkswagen-Arena at the moment, quite slow to get to their seats after the interval. Benfica, meanwhile, immediately look lively.
2107: Under way between Wolfsburg and Fulham and seconds later, they're back up and running between Liverpool and Benfica too.
From Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, via text to 81111: "We all know Bobby should go to the World Cup, but we really ought to find a seat on the plane for Roy as well."
From RobNox on 606:
"Zamora can give the physical presence that Heskey brings, but has more than that - witness tonight's goal. He also seems to be a player brimming with confidence and that's no bad thing."
From Dukey42 on Twitter:
"As a German student I feel it is my duty to tell you that they are, in fact, called Hamburgers."
2055: Great work, Europa League Danny: "Some Europa-themed half-times for you. Atletico Madrid 0-0 Valencia (2-2 on aggregate). Winners play Liverpool or Benfica. Standard Liege 1-2 Hamburg (2-4 aggregate). Winners play Wolfsburg or Fulham. Clear?"
2052: Half-time Wolfsburg 0-1 Fulham (agg: 1-3) Job half done for Fulham too thanks to that astonishingly early Bobby Zamora strike. They'll soak up pressure until the cows come home, so the Gerrmans will have to come up with something different.
2051: Half-time Liverpool 2-0 Benfica (agg: 3-2) You'd have to fancy the hosts now after those two quickfire goals, but don't rule out Benfica - apparently they play much better in the second half in most of their games.
2049: Ashkan Dejagah fires in a low cross from the right at Wolfsburg and Aaron Hughes does well to cut it out at the near post, with Grafite lurking ominously.
2048: Pinball inside the Liverpool six-yard box - and the hosts survive. A free-kick into the box is headed to the back post and Oscar Cardozo's shot across goal is kicked against Yossi Benayoun by Lucas and out for a corner, with Sidnei so close to getting a touch at the back post.
From Suhail in Toronto, via text to +44 7786200666: "Fulham beating the Bundesliga champs on their own turf? Try telling us that three years ago."
2044: More from the anything but standard - Europa League Danny: "Forget my crazy extra-time chat (see 2041). Mladen Petric has scored again to make it Standard 1-2 Hamburg and 2-4 on aggregate. Looking good for the Hamburgians."
2043: Benfica's first-leg hero, Oscar Cardozo, hits an ambitious free-kick from 35 yards that Pepe Reina deals with comfortably.
2041: What a tournament this is - Europa League Danny: "Igor De Camargo levels for the home team to make it Standard Liege 1-1 Hamburg. The Germans now lead 3-2 on aggregate - another goal for the Belgians makes extra-time a possibility."
2040: Wolfsburg have taken off defender Peter Pekarik and brought on forward Ashkan Dejagah. Interesting move with 10 minutes left until half-time.
Liverpool goal: Beauty. That's what England fans want to see a couple of months before the World Cup. Steven Gerrard takes a Yossi Benayoun pass on halfway and clips a perfect pass into the path of Lucas, who beats the offside trap, runs through, does the keeper and slots into an empty net. Classy goal.
2038: GOAL Liverpool 2-0 Benfica (agg: 3-2) (Lucas)
2034: Rafa Benitez was furious when he thought that goal was going to be disallowed. Apparently he was asking how you can be offside from a corner. I mean seriously...
Liverpool goal: If anyone ever gets to talk to Michel Platini, tell him two extra officials don't make any difference. Steven Gerrard swings over a corner and Dirk Kuyt heads it in. Simple? No, not really, because the assistant referee puts his flag up and it's disallowed, before 30 seconds later the referee decides to give it. Ridiculous officiating, but eventually Liverpool have their goal. As it stands, they will go through.
2031: GOAL Liverpool 1-0 Benfica (agg: 2-2) (Kuyt)
2030: Wolfsburg are dominating possession in Germany, but Fulham are doing another top-class job of denying quality opposition time and space and the hosts are starting to get frustrated.
From mondaymisc on Twitter:
"Benfica are currently on a 27-game unbeaten run in all competitions... Bobby Zamora has now scored six goals in his last seven Europa League appearances for Fulham."
2029: Fasten your seatbelts, it's Europa League Danny: "Tonight's second Europa League goal comes courtesy of Mladen Petric, who has put Hamburg 1-0 up at Standard Liege. The Germans now lead that tie 3-1 on aggregate. By the way, the winners of that tie play the winners of Wolfsburg v Fulham."
2027: When Benfica break, they do so with blinding pace as Everton can probably testify. This time Carlos Martins tries an ambitious drive from at least 30 yards, but it's deflected behind.
2025: Liverpool are playing better now. Dirk Kuyt plays a lovely one-two with Steven Gerrard, but the Dutchman cannot quite get his shot in from 15 yards. The Anfield crowd responds.
2021: Fulham captain Danny Murphy has a shot from 15 yards saved by Wolfsburg goalkeeper Diego Benaglio. You do wonder whether Fabio Capello's watching though, don't you? A baseball-capped Cottagers-supporting Hugh Grant certainly is at the Volkswagen-Arena.
2020: Bit better from Liverpool as Fernando Torres heads a Steven Gerrard cross at Benfica goalkeeper Julio Cesar. But the flag had gone up against the Liverpool number nine.
2017: Wolfsburg have suddenly come to life. Andrea Barzagli hammers in a shot from the left that Mark Schwarzer parries back out to Grafite and he shins in from close-range - only for the Brazilian is flagged offside.
2015: Chance for Wolfsburg. Damien Duff gives the ball away and a cross from the right is pulled back for Christian Gentner, who sees his low shot parried away by Mark Schwarzer. Grafite heads the resulting corner over.
2013: Fulham, 3-1 up on aggregate, go close to making life even more difficult for their hosts, but Diego Benaglio pushes a Zoltan Gera header from Damien Duff's right-wing cross behind for a corner. Fulham are dominant.
From Luke, via text to 81111: "I have been Bobby Zamora's biggest critic, a few times people have been critical of my criticism of Bobby, but that was class. I have nothing to say or do but sit open-mouthed at the brilliance I just witnessed."
2011: Fernando Torres gets bundled over by Sidnei, not what the Spanish hitman needs right now. Benfica are all over Liverpool in the early stages.
2008: Not such good news for Liverpool's main man up front - Fernando Torres appears to be struggling a little bit. Angel di Maria has an early shot blocked and Benfica have started well.
Fulham goal: Have some of that - get him on that plane. Bobby Zamora collects a pass from Zoltan Gera, Cruyffs inside his marker and rolls the ball past Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio. AFTER 21 SECONDS! Unbelievable.
2006: And now Zoltan Gera rolls the ball to Bobby Zamora and we're under way in Wolfsburg too.
2005: Under way at Anfield, thanks to Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard.
2001: The teams are out in England and in Germany, which probably means we're moments away from kick-off.
BBC Radio 5 live's David Pleat: "Roy Hodgson is a proper manager because he gets out onto that training field and he works with the players - he's not just a frontman who looks good. The players respond to him and he deserves all the credit he gets, they've had another superb season."
From BBC Radio 1's Andy May at Anfield: "Comedy moment just before we get under way - a sprinkler has just come on by the home dugout and sprayed a bunch of photographers!"
1942: On the evening of 31 October, 1995, I walked along the banks of the River Trent with a few thousand other Forest fans joyously singing "One team in Europe, there's only one team in Europe" after a
1-0 aggregate Uefa Cup win over Auxerre
and having found out that Liverpool and Leeds had gone out of the tournament that night. I wonder if either Liverpool or Fulham might enjoy that privilege this evening?
From Derbtastic on Twitter:
"It seemed so recently that my dreams of all-English finals in the CL and Europa were still intact. Alas and alack."
1936: Fernando Torres is fit to start up front for Liverpool after being controversially substituted during Sunday's draw with Birmingham. Reds boss Rafael Benitez makes two changes from that game, with Daniel Agger coming in at left-back in place of the suspended Emiliano Insua and Javier Mascherano returning in midfield for Maxi Rodriguez, who is ineligible. Benfica make two changes from the side which won the first-leg 2-1, with Ruben Amorim and Sidnei coming into the Portuguese league leaders' defence.
From Zach in Oxford, via text to 81111: "Big, big night. Hope Capello is there; this could be Bobby's night!"
1933: Wolfsburg make one change from the side that beat Hoffenheim 4-0 at the weekend - defender Jan Simunek comes in for Makoto Hasebe. There is no place in the squad for defender Alexander Madlung, who is injured. Fulham welcome back leading scorer Bobby Zamora, who passed a fitness test on his injured Achilles. He starts ahead of David Elm, who is not available due to illness. Midfielder Clint Dempsey picked up a thigh injury in the weekend win over Wigan and misses out but Chris Baird returns in defence.
1932: So, those predos would mean that Valencia go through 4-3, Benfica would win on away goals and Hamburg would progress 3-2. Yeah, as if.
1930: Stevo's Predos: Atletico 1-2 Valencia Liverpool 3-2 Benfica Standard 1-1 Hamburg Wolfsburg 2-1 Fulham* * (Bobby Zamora to score winning penalty in the shootout)
1915: And then there were two. With
unceremoniously dumped out of the Champions League this week, all eyes English turn to the Europa League and the two sole survivors.
- the dancefloor's all yours.
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