SL Benfica v Liverpool FC Quarter Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League

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106 touches, 5 tackles, 3 dribbles: One Liverpool player just put in the performance everyone dreamed he could

Naby Keita put in a sensational all-around performance for Liverpool against Benfica on Tuesday evening. It’s exactly what the Reds wanted.

Liverpool came away from Lisbon with a 3-1 lead over Benfica last night. It was a good performance, all things considered, and one that asked the Reds to do everything.

They raced into a 2-0 lead before half-time, as they’d have hoped. But desires to slow things down in the second half disappeared as an Ibrahima Konate mistake allowed Benfica a way back in. They pushed hard for an equaliser but Liverpool held on – and found a third through Luis Diaz.

The team needed to show what they had in every way possible, then, and no one exemplified that more than Naby Keita. The Guinean did everything in Red.

Naby Keita for Liverpool

Keita arrived at Liverpool for a big fee back in 2018. He hasn’t quite lived up to his RB Leipzig reputation as an all-action midfielder who could win games, however. Or at least, we haven’t seen it quite like this.

In fact, Keita frequently disappears in big games, struggling to get involved. That wasn’t the case against Benfica, though, and there’s a case that he was Liverpool’s best player.

He was certainly the most involved. Keita boasted 106 touches here – more than anyone else on the pitch. That’s incredibly rare for him, let alone in a game as big as this.

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But that’s how he played. For instance, Keita won five tackles – more than anyone in Red – and made an interception. No Liverpool player made more than one.

Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images

Going forward, we saw Keita complete three dribbles. That’s the most he’s managed this season and we find it incredibly encouraging. At his best, Keita is a sensational dribbler – he’s just not doing it enough this season.

On top of it all, Keita created two chances for teammates and assisted Diaz’s goal (albeit with a slight deflection). This was a brilliant performance and exactly what Liverpool dreamed of when they signed the player.

We’re very encouraged then and if Keita keeps this up, he may find himself starting other massive games in the months to come.

All stats per Whoscored.

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