FC Porto 0 vs 5 Liverpool (UEFA Champions League last 16 1st Leg) 14th February 2018
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool headed to the Estádio do Dragão in Portugal looking to gain a positive result as they make their first appearance in the knockout spots of the Champions league for 9 years. Virgil Van Dijk also made his Champions League debut. Two-time Champions League winners Porto were without the prolific Vincent Aboubakar for the important tie. Liverpool were the favourites in the tie as they looked to find some away goals to bring back to England.
Early in the match, Porto seemed content with allowing Liverpool to play keep ball, fully knowing that an open game would lead right into Liverpool’s hands. Octavio had an early chance to put the home side into the lead thanks to some sloppy defending, but only a last ditch Lovren tackle helped to spare Liverpool’s blushes. Liverpool got the important away goal midway into the 1st half when Sadio Mane’s shot was fumbled into the back of the Porto net. Questions would be asked whether the experienced Iker Casillas who was the on the bench would have made a better fist of that. It would get much worse for Porto when Mohammed Salah was able score after a James Milner strike crashed into the post and came out to the Egyptian international. Salah showing some absolutely gorgeous skill in doubling the Liverpool lead. It’s fair to say that Porto looked completely stunned. On the stroke of half time Soares had a great opportunity to send the Portuguese side in at half time only one behind but his effort went wide of the post. The first half ended 2-0 thanks to Salah’s 30th goal this season.
As the 2nd half started, the usual thoughts echoed; will Liverpool increase the doom and gloom onto Porto or would the shaky Liverpool defence allow Porto a way back into the tie (I had no faith that Porto could a find a way back without an assist from Liverpool). Within the first few moments of the 2nd half, the questions were answered when Liverpool sprung a wonderful counter attack that was finished by Sadio Mane when the keeper was only able to palm away Firmino’s shot into the Mane’s path. The question now was surely how many Liverpool would get and they duly delivered when they made it four thanks to Roberto Firmino after a square ball from James Milner. Mane could have even made it five shortly after, but he just couldn’t control the half volley after a lovely cross from the left. Mane didn’t have to wait too long to round off his performance with a hattrick after a scorching long range shot which gave Liverpool a five goal lead. Liverpool have complete control in the tie as they look to very easily gain access to the quarter finals over a very lacklustre Porto side, and that’s being kind.
I felt Liverpool were the favourites going in, but was not expecting such a terrible display by Porto. They just never turned up and looked woeful in every single part of the pitch. Awful strike force, awful midfield, awful defence and well, awful keeper. Just plain awful. Liverpool however were superb, and surprisingly didn’t really look like conceding either, however, they were never really tested by Porto. Offensively, Liverpool were just magnificent and always looked like creating chances. Any team that gets Liverpool in the quarter finals will not be looking forward to the tie. Yes, I’m already confident that Liverpool are through even with 90 minutes left in the tie. I guarantee that Porto will not overturn their five goal deficit.
By Christopher Marriott