Rafa Benitez proved once again last night that there are few better tacticians in Europe as Liverpool marched on in their Europa League adventure.

After being knocked out of the Champions League group stages it was fair to say most supporters weren't particularly bothered about the Europa League (or the Disney Cup), it was looked at as an embarrassment that Liverpool were even competing in the competition.

Nevertheless Liverpool have successfully navigated their way to the semi-finals of the Europa League, and suddenly it's become interesting. Europe's no.2 prize it may be, but with Liverpool trophyless since 2006 there seems to be a renewed incentive around Anfield to lift the title in Hamburg on May 12.

Last night's opponents Benfica are no pushovers, unbeaten in 26 matches prior to the game with only one loss to their name domestically, the 4-1 scoreline should serve as a warning to the rest of Europe that Liverpool are still capable of performing at the highest level.

After an impressive start from the visitors Liverpool took control with two goals to put the Reds ahead in the tie. First Dirk Kuyt's header from Steven Gerrard's corner and then Lucas' composed finish around Julio Cesar made it 2-0 after another assist from the skipper.

From a personal point of view I was so pleased for Lucas. The crowd seemed to finally warm to him, although it was nowhere near his best performance in a red shirt, the goal will definitely serve to win over the doubters. It was fair to say Lucas and Javier Mascherano were not at their best, but their work ethic at continually closing out the Benfica attack was impressive.

While Liverpool have certainly been playing with a greater deal of freedom lately at Anfield, most notably against Sunderland, it was far more controlled performance from the men in red. Acknowledging that Benfica are a top side, Benitez could ill-afford to go all guns blazing against such a talented forward line. Instead the instructions were to half-press the opposition, "when opponents are closed down only as they cross halfway," according to tactics expert, Jonathan Wilson.

This worked perfectly in the second half, the away side never looked like getting back into the game and Liverpool were totally in control. The fourth goal was a great example of how this worked so well, both Mascherano and Lucas went flying in as soon as the Portuguese entered Liverpool's half, ultimately Lucas won the ball back and the Reds went on to score. It's a measure of how well Liverpool have performed against Benfica that all three of the opposition's goals across the two legs have been from set-plays (two penalties and a free-kick).

Rewinding slightly, the third goal on the night was classic counter-attacking at it's very best. Liverpool are often criticised for calling back all their players to defend corners and free-kicks in dangerous positions but there are two sides of the coin to this setup. Firstly and most obviously, there is a better chance of defending the set-play with more men back. Secondly, if Liverpool can break out, they can do so in numbers - all coming from deep-lying positions. The trouble with leaving players up the pitch for set-plays is that they are likely to be closely marked by two or three players, with several players breaking from a deep position it is much harder for the opposition to deal with. That said, executing a counter-attack of such quality is difficult at the best of times and the roles of Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt and Fernando Torres should all be applauded.

That man Torres simply goes from strength to strength as he continues to break records left, right and centre. The Spaniard is now the only player in Liverpool's illustrious history to score four successive Anfield braces, truely remarkable. His second on the night was simply put; a peach. Such a delicate finish that looks incredibly easy on the outset but yet requires such skill and ability.

It will be a homecoming for darling of the Kop Torres as Liverpool play Atletico Madrid in the semi final. Another difficult tie in what is proving to be a very interesting competition, but one I am sure Rafa Benitez and the players are relishing as they fight to win the club's first trophy in four years.