Liverpool took a big step towards the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-1 victory at Benfica on Tuesday while their big English rivals Manchester City laboured to a 1-0 home win over Atletico Madrid.
Ibrahima Konate and Sadio Mane gave Liverpool a 2-0 half-time lead in Lisbon, Darwin Nunez pulled one back but a late Luis Diaz strike means that Jürgen Klopp's team are heavy favourites to wrap up the quarter-final tie at home next week.
Before that comes a Sunday Premier League table topper at City who got their win on the night from Kevin de Bruyne in the 70th minute against Atletico who had ousted Manchester United in the previous round and can still reverse matters at home on April 13.
The other two first leg matches are Wednesday: holders Chelsea v record 13-time winners Real Madrid and Villarreal v Bayern Munich.
As expected, last year's runners-up City dominated possession at the Etihad but lacked ideas against Atletico who defended deep with a five-man back line.
The game came to live after the break when Ilkay Gündogan had a curling shot deflected and Aymeric Laporte headed inches high in the 62nd.
De Bruyne finally broke the deadlock with 20 minutes left for Pep Guardiola's side with a low shot into the far left corner off a pass from the lively substitute Phil Foden.
Stefan Savic denied De Bruyne a second 10 minutes later by clearing his shot in front of the goal line, leaving the team of Diego Simeone - who left without a handshake with Guardiola - still well-placed to turn around matters at the Wanda Metropolitano.
"Phil found me perfectly, I just needed to stay composed and luckily I did," De Bruyne told BT Sport of his goal.
"It was a very hard game. The first half was tight, in the second half we had a couple of chances and it was good that we took one.
"We have to stay composed. 1-0 is 1-0. I expect similar over there. If the game is tight they will have to attack a little bit more."
In Lisbon, Konate headed Liverpool 1-0 up in the 17th off Andrew Robertson's corner kick.
Captain Nicolas Otamendi nodded wide on Benfica's best chance and they were punished seconds later when Mane made it 2-0 off Diaz heading on Trent Alexander-Arnold's long cross-field ball in the 34th.
Benfica were back in the game in the 49th after Konate failed to clear a cross and Nunez behind him happily accepted this gift.
But Diaz ended all doubts in the 87th, slotting into the empty net after rounding keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos to put the Reds firmly in command as they head to Anfield.
"It was a tough game, on top first half and could have gone in a couple more up, then we wanted to keep it tight but they got a goal which lifted the crowd and we got a bit sloppy. The third goal was big," Robertson told BT Sport.
"A two-goal cushion makes a difference. Hopefully we can get the job done."