Liverpool produced a sensational performance to breeze to a 5-0 first-leg win over Porto, with a host top-class displays in the Champions League./b>
Porto 0-5 Liverpool
Champions League Last 16, First Leg, Estadio do Dragao
February 14, 2018
Goals: Mane 25′, 53’, 85’, Salah 29’, Firmino 70’
Loris Karius – 7 (out of 10)
Rightly retained for European duties as Jurgen Klopp abandoned rotation, but certainly didn’t have the expected thorough examination of his recent improvement.
Literally had nothing do throughout bar collect the ball a couple of times and distribute, but was generally alert to danger inside the box throughout.
This was the biggest test of the youngster’s career so far, and after a nervy start he settled to deliver an accomplished performance.
Had a tough opening against the sharp Yacine Brahimi but to his credit quickly got to grips with the direct Algerian winger with some strong pieces of defending one-against-one.
Nothing spectacular on the night but it was a completely solid performance which was more than enough on this sort of occasion.
Dejan Lovren – 8
Restored to partner Virgil van Dijk as Klopp switched his central pair, and the Croatian continued what is developing into a promising partnership with the Dutchman with a great performance.
Was strong in the air and aggressive in his challenging as he defended on the front foot throughout to win possession back with ease numerous times.
This was best highlighted in his fine work for Sadio Mane’s crucial opener, as Lovren expertly read the Porto ‘keeper’s throw before winning the ball and distributing forward to set the move up.
Virgil van Dijk – 9
Another big occasion for the Dutchman with his Reds Champions League debut, but once again he handled it with the utmost confidence and with a top-class display.
Won some big headers clearing lines in the box from corners and showed his class in possession with some raking cross-field passes alongside sensible distribution into feet to get the Reds moving.
Constantly organised and instructed team-mates, which helped set the tone for such a complete team display, which also showed his credentials for the captaincy long-term and that he’s well and truly settled in at Anfield.
Made a great block at 4-0 which perfectly illustrated his desire to defend and keep a second successive clean sheet.
Andy Robertson – 9
Showed his defensive qualities when required early on with some sharp covering and good one-on-one play, and also displayed impressive decision-making in when to support attacks.
Clearly enjoyed himself bombing on as the game opened up and he could not have asked for a better bow in Europe’s elite competition.
Jordan Henderson – 7.5
A big performance was needed from the refreshed captain on return to his No. 6 role and Henderson enjoyed an efficient if unspectacular night.
Tidy and simple in possession throughout to keep the Reds in control and get the play moving, and was sharp to close the hosts down in midfield to stop Porto developing dangerous attacks.
Gini Wijnaldum – 9
The Dutchman has well and truly come to life away from Anfield. Had a key role to play as the midfield knitter and performed his role superbly.
Produced a purposeful run for Mane’s opener which caused panic in the Porto defence, and was a different player thereafter, visibly buzzing with confidence.
Made vital contributions going forward with good runs from deep and did the same with great tracking back to regain possession a number of times, while also playing sensibly when on the ball.
More of the same please, Gini.
James Milner – 8.5
Brought into the team to provide more solidity in midfield, and delivered with a performance that showcased the vital experience Milner offer.
Went about his work brilliantly, breaking up play with quick pressing and tackles in midfield, while his use of possession was crisp and intelligent throughout.
Produced a great piece of the play for the second goal, which was so nearly his own after his shot cannoned off the post before Mo Salah scored.
Sadio Mane – 9.5
Mane is back! And he could not have picked a better moment to do it and deliver such a decisive performance.
If you’re nit-picking his final ball was frustrating at times and he was slightly fortunate with his finish for his first of the night.
But he more than made up for it with superb strike for his hat-trick goal and with his general performance—as he was key in all that was good about the Reds going forward with his runs and movement.
Nice to have you back, Sadio.
Mohamed Salah – 9
Roses are red, violets are blue, I love Mo Salah and I know you do too.
Showed on Valentine’s night why Kopites have fallen in love with him as he struck his 30th, yes, THIRTIETH goal of the season as his remarkable campaign just rumbles on.
The finish was just out of this world, and he also played a key role in the counter-attack for Mane’s second. A truly remarkable footballer.
Roberto Firmino – 9
Said pre-match he wanted to make Porto suffer, and boy did he as the Brazilian once again led the line with an expert display.
As usual, got the Reds on the front foot with his relentless work off the ball, and provided a constant mobile outlet to build attacks all night, springing some delightful first-time passes to set up breakaways.
Capped a superb performance off with a goal he deserved for the fourth of the night, and came off early as Klopp rightly looks to wrap him up in cotton wool. What a footballer.
Starting XI Average Rating:8.36
Joel Matip (on for Henderson, 74′) – 7
On to help see the game out in the final 15 minutes, and slotted in easily with some tidy play passing out from the back.
Joe Gomez (on for Alexander-Arnold, 79′) – N/A
Came in and kept things simple as the Reds breezed to victory.
Danny Ings (on for Firmin, 79′) – N/A
Showed some nice touches in the closing stages with the game well and truly won.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Moreno, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana
Jurgen Klopp – 9
Understandably picked a ‘safety first’ selection boasting graft rather than craft in midfield, and it worked a treat, providing defensive security and a threat on the break.
Set the team up perfectly to start methodically before growing into the game, which is exactly what happened as the Reds opened steadily then took control with two devastating quick strikes.
Clearly instructed at half-time for absolutely no step off in the second half and got exactly that as his side showed no mercy to go 4-0 up before he switched shape and used subs to see out the game.
An absolutely superb tactical display from Klopp who was rewarded for his work with the perfect night.