Full-time - 93'
0 - 2
UEFA Champions League
19:45 +00:00, March 8, 2006
2nd Leg: 0 - 3 (Agg)
Liverpool bow out of Europe ratehr meekly in the end. Their fine first half performance was followed by a very average showing in the second persiod and they paid the price for their pfoligacy in front of goal. It is a problem that Benitez will have to address if any sort of challenge is to be mounted on the Premiership next season. Whether or not he will be the man who leads that challenge remains to be seen. A huge anticlimax after last year's heroic efforts by his team.
Another corner from Liverpool is headed wide for another Liverpool corner. Benfica have dealt well with the aerial threat posed by the home team.
The crowd are attempting to sing their way through their disappointment but they will go home tonight concerned about the future.
Benfica break up the park and Simao links well with Miccoli who, at the second attempt, hits a volley in to Reina's goal. The score line flatters the visitors.
A great cushioned header from Fowler allows Gerrard to race in to BEnfica;s penalty area. he then wrongfoots the Benfica defence before hitting a smart low shot which just drifts wide. A good move but it sums up Liverpool's efforts all night long.
Moretto is awarded another free kick after Hamman flicks the ball in Crouch's direction and the big Liverpool striker brushes against the Brazilian keeper. Who looks rather embarrassed to be give the decision.
Although Liverpool have been their own worst enemies up front, the Benfica defence have been strong all night.
Ooooh. From a Liverpool corner the ball is headed in to the Benfica net, but the ball was adjudged to have swung out of play as the corner was taken. And the man who scored the disallowed goal? Step forward Mr Robbie Fowler.
The songs of the Benfica fans are all that can be heard around Anfield now. The crowd know that their European dream is over for this season.
Cisse hits a ball in to Fowler and is then presented with the ball again before attempting a frankly pathetic 'cross' which goes straight out of play.
Liverpool have a free kick in a dangerous area but Gerrard hits it just over Moretto's bar.
Nuno Gomes is replaced by Miccoli.
Another Liverpool corner after Cisse attacks down the right. This time it is Carragher who is presented with a decent headed opportunity from seven yards but he hits it wastefully high over the bar.
Benfica clear the corner a little too comfortably once again. Liverpool are running out of options and, more importantly, time.
Cisse wins yet another corner for Liverpool.
Cisse is knocked over in the Benfica area and despite the loud howls around Anfield, no penalty is given.
The referee has now booked Gerrard as he takes a free kick and I am afraid I have no explanation as to why. Not his first strange deicision tonight.
Fowler is stripping off and is replacing Morientes. Now would be a good time to show the Liverpool fans he can still score (and that when he does, they count. Two disallowed goals in his six games since returning to Anfield).
Crouch just fails to connect with a cross in from the left. He opted to stretch out to reach it with his leg when perhaps he should have launched his lengthy frame at it to execute a wonderful diving header. Well, it's what I wuold have done anyway.
Liverpool have failed to threaten the Benfica goal seriously so far. Fowler surely has to come on soon.
Beto dinks a nice ball over the Liverpool defence and Cisse has to cover back to tackle. Not what he was brought on for really.
Harry Kewell had been replaced by Cisse.
Crouch goes for a high ball with Moretto and the goalkeeper has gone to ground rather theatrically. GET UP.
Gomes is blown up for offside when the Liverpool central defence was all at sea. He was at least a yard onside though and Traore and Carragher will be mightily relieved.
Benfica have a corner which Robert takes. Traore turns the ball away from danger and Alonso clears the ball up the park. Gerrard chases the ball but Moretto beats him to it.
Geovanni is off and is replaced by Karagounis.
A bizarre decision from the referee sees Kewell penalised as he is fouled by Luisao.
Kewell wins a corner for Liverpool on the left. Moretto punches clear but another high ball in from Liverpool is headed wide for another corner. Unfortunately for them Moretto wins the ball.
Alonso has hit a vicious drive from thirty yards out after winning the ball with great determination in midfield. Moretto makes a good save.
The crowd are getting a bit restless at Liverpool's failure to break down the Benfica defence. The latest attempt sees Gerrard try to play Morientes in but over hitting his pass.
Crouch was nudged in the back as he made a good headed flick and Gerrard then attempts a difficult long range volley which drifts wide of the Benfica goal.
Gerrard links well with Finnan down the right to win a Liverpool throw. The Irishman then gets a cross in which sails high over everyone's head for a Benfica goal kick.
Fowler is warming up and, from his decidedly lacklustre performance so far, it could be Morientes who will make way for him.
Alonso tries to get it up to his front men but his ball goes straight to Moretto
Liverpool have a corner. Moreintes rolls his man well but just could not get hold of the ball to trouble Moretto.
Liverpool need an early goal here and they will be attacking the Kop this half as they try to do so.
Giovanni goes for a dive but the referee is reluctant to book him when Crouch was yellow carded for the same offence in the first forty five.
Alonso has threaded a pass though to Kewell who could have gone over and try for a penalty (Benfica have come back out now by the way).
Clearly impatient to get on with things, Liverpool are first out on to the pitch for the second half and await their visitors.
Liverpool trail in to the dressing room wondering how they haven't scored. They have had a host of chances but a combination of bad finishing, the post and, er, bad finishing sees them trailing to Simao's wonder strike. If they are to go through, the next forty five minutes should be rather good. Three goals in forty five second half minutes? Liverpool couldn't possibly do that now could they?
Crouch wins another good header but there is no sign of Morientes for the knock down.
Robert easily outwits Traore on the Liverpool left but can't produce a telling cross.
One minute of added time to play.
Blimey, this is a good game. Carragher connects with a firm header from the corner and hits the post. Liverpool really could do with one of these going in before half time
Great ball in from the right from Alonso nearly produces a belting own goal from Beto. Liverpool have to make do with a corner.
Gerrard hits a marvellous defence spiltting ball fifty yards towards Garcia but the Spaniard just cannot reach it. Shame.
Alonso has been booked for a foul. If Liverpool are to make the last eight he will be suspended for the next game.
Liverpool are missing Hyypia greatly at the back. Traore looks well out of his depth, which is about paddling level at the best of times, and the defence in general looks very shaky.
Good jump from Crouch towards Kewell but his effort is taken by Moretto easily.
The Liverpool crowd are doing their best to raise the volume but the Benfica fans have more to sing about at the minute.
Liverpool now require three goals from this game and that is a huge ask.
Jamie Carragher loses out to Robert who feeds it to Simao who hits a swerving long range stike high in to Reina's net. A great goal fom the one time Liverpool target.
Another long range effort from Manuel Fernandes is equally as tame.
Robert has a go from thirty yards out but his effort is well wide.
Crouch is booked, rather harshly, for taking a dive in the Benfica penalty area.
Benfica attack and out almost out of nothing a fantastic volley from Geovanni dips over Reina and hits the bar. The follow up header goes straight in to a grateful Reina's arms. Liverpool were very lucky there.
Great control from Crouch in a deep lying position. The good build up play leads to a Liverpool free kick which is delivered by Gerrard in to the area. The goalie punches clear and just missed knocking out Jamie Carragher.
Crouch is well marshalled by Luisao and is penalised for pulling the Brazilian's shirt.
A wonderful move from Liverpool sees Gerrard penetrate through the middle before laying the ball on a plate for Crouch who only has to beat the keeper from eight yards. The big man somehow contrives to miss the opportunity. Good save from Moretto but Crouch made the wrong decision in front of goal. Best chance of the game.
Benfica come forward and Gerrard is fooled by Beto on the eighteen yard box before he hits a low shot wide of Reina's right hand post.
Traore boots the ball sixty yards straight to Moretto. Benitez is not amused.
Garcia is knocked off the ball on the edge of the Benfica area after some nice interplay again from Liverpool. They are putting together some decent passages of play but as of yet lack the required cutting edge.
Traore nearly got caught out at the back for Liverpool. Most unlike him.
Morientes and Garcia combine well after a great long ball from Alonso but Garcia miscues completely sending the ball high in to the Anfield Road end. A good chance wasted.
Liverpool go streaming up the park and Gerrard puts it through to Morientes . His shot gives Liverpool another corner but Moretto comes to claim it well.
Benfica now have a corner after Carragher blocks a cross. It goes straight in to REina's arms.
The Liverpool crowd scream for a handball after Morientes fails to connect with a cross in to the Benfica six yard box. It would have been a harsh decision if a penalty was given.
Finnan makes a lovely break in to the Benfica box but is well challenged by Anderson. Liverpool's corner is then wasted and Benfica have the goal kick.
Sloppy play at the back from Liverpool. Finnan dithers and is robbed of the ball before Benfica are pulled up for offside when Geovanni was one on one with Reina.
Garcia plays it to Crouch in the penalty area who hits a vicious drive which is well saved. From the resultant corner a scramble ensues from which Carragher just fails to convert from close range. Unlucky Liverpool.
Benfica have never won away in the Champions League, no Portuguese team has ever won at Anfield
and the entire Benfica defence is Brazilian. If Liverpool's strikers remember how to score it should be a comfortable victory for them.
Luicao fouls Morientes from behind and is given a stern talking to by the referee.
Morientes floats a couple of high balls in quick succession towards Crouch but the Benfica defence deal with the danger.
Gerrard scampers in to the Benfica penalty area to chase a loose ball but fouls Luisao in the process.
Alonso threads the ball through to Morientes who turns the Benfica defence nicely but can't find a fniish to match. His long range effort is easily held by the keeper.
Crouch flicks the ball on but it runs harmlessly out for another goal kick
Oops, no it isn't. The referee has overruled the linesman and given the goal kick to BEnfica.
Free kick to Liverpool on the edge of the Benfica box. Gerrard launches it in and the ball is headed clear for a corner.
Lauren Robert has been booked for leaving his foot in on a challenge with Luis Garcia. A popular decision with the Anfield crowd.
Benfica are playing all in grey, Liverpool are in their customary all red.
Benfica kick the game off atacking the Kop. The ball goes straight out for a Liverpool throw.
Benitez starts with Crouch and Morientes up front. Hyypia and Riise miss out through injury. The ever popular Lauren Robert makes a welcome return to English shores for a Benfica team who are likely to play with Geovanni as the solitary striker.
Trailing one nil from the first leg, Rafael Benitez's team will be hoping that the famed Anfield atmosphere can help them to do something they have not done much of recently - find the back of the net more than once.
The champions of Europe need to beat Benfica at home by two clear goals to progress to the quarter finals of the Champions League. Sound simple enough? Well, if you are Liverpool and your four recognised strikers have mustered a less than impressive one goal in their last fourty four appearances between them, then the task at hand would appear slightly more bothersome.
Fernando Sanchez Morientes
Gilberto Galdino Beto