Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz were on target as Liverpool win 3-1 at Benfica to take a firm grip of their Champions League quarter-final tie.
The Merseysiders are heading into a crucial period in their quest for an unprecedented quadruple and will now be confident of reaching the last four of Europe’s elite competition after a dominant display secured a first-leg advantage.
Jurgen Klopp’s side deservedly took the lead on 17 minutes when Ibrahima Konate headed home his first goal for the club from Andy Robertson’s corner.
Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita had chances to add to the tally before Mane polished off a sublime, incisive move involving Trent Alexander Arnold and Diaz on 34 minutes.
Liverpool could easily have been out of sight by the interval but were made to pay for failing to make more of their openings when Darwin Nunez punished a Konate error with a clinical finish on 49 minutes.
The hosts were much improved throughout the second half with Nunez offering their greatest hope of rescuing a draw.
The visitors failed to find their best form in the latter stages but added a third through Diaz three minutes from time to ensure they are in control heading into the second leg at Anfield on April 13 courtesy of equalling a club record of five successive away victories in Europe.
Liverpool will now switch focus to Sunday’s huge top of the table Premier League clash at Manchester City. Benfica host relegation-threatened Belenenses in the Primeira Liga on Saturday.