Liverpool booked their place in the Champions League semi-finals, following a 4-1 win at Porto that was often more pragmatic than explosive, despite the score.
Porto 1-4 Liverpool (1-6 agg)
Champions League Quarter-Final Second Leg, Estadio do Drago
April 17, 2019
Goals: Militao 68′; Mane 24′, Salah 65′, Firmino 77′, Van Dijk 84′
Alisson (out of 10) – 7
Liverpool’s goalkeeper hasn’t always been heavily tested during his first season at Anfield, but he was busier than usual at the Estadio do Dragao.
Admittedly, he wasn’t forced into any big saves, but his handling was always reliable when required and he was good aerially, too.
Such a reliable individual who has made an enormous difference.
Alexander-Arnold has become a hugely important member of this Reds side but this was one of his less expansive performances.
That type of display wasn’t required, in truth, and he stuck to his defensive work solidly and rode an early Porto storm.
Brilliant assist for Mohamed Salah‘s goal, showcasing his creativity.
Joel Matip – 7
Matip’s form has been excellent of late and he produced another assured display at the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
His positional sense was often good as Porto whipped dangerous crosses into the penalty area and he was calm in possession.
Hats off to him for a huge improvement.
Virgil van Dijk – 8 (Man of the Match)
Van Dijk rarely put a foot wrong all night, despite one switch-off when he appealed for a foul, and finished off the scoring to wrap up the victory.
You just expect perfection from him these days.
Andy Robertson – 7
Robertson returned after missing the first leg through suspension and he was in typically slick form down the left flank.
Like Alexander-Arnold, the Scot wasn’t necessarily in adventurous mood, but he rarely looked troubled in a defensive sense.
When did he last have a below-par game?
Fabinho – 7
Liverpool’s “lighthouse” in the middle of the park was an influential figure, particularly when Porto bossed the early exchanges.
His physicality and ability to time tackles to perfection was key and he displayed exactly why he is now one of the first names of the team-sheet.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
After two games on the substitutes’ bench Wijnaldum was restored against Porto, but he was arguably Liverpool’s most frustrating player.
He was anonymous before Sadio Mane opened the scoring, allowing the Reds to lose the midfield battle, and his recent rest doesn’t look to have refreshed him.
His work rate was good and he was industrious, but there are times when he can leave you wanting more, given his talent.
James Milner – 6
Milner was another who came into the team as Jurgen Klopp shuffled his midfield pack, but he was also guilty of not influencing matters enough in the first half.
He seemed to leave the midfield vacant too often during the aforementioned early struggles, and didn’t use the ball as well as Henderson and Naby Keita have in recent weeks.
Much improved as the match went on, though.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Salah has roared back to his best in recent weeks and he continued his good form in Portugal.
That being said, the Reds’ No. 11 produced the assist for Mane’s goal—an underrated pass across the six-yard box that his team-mate tapped home—and made it 2-0 clinically.
Twenty-three goals for the season now.
Sadio Mane – 8
Liverpool’s star man in 2019 so far was again a menace, just like he was in the same stadium last year.
The Senegalese put the Reds ahead after a VAR check, tapping home from close range, but did miss a Ronnie Rosenthal-esque sitter after rounding Iker Casillas.
A priceless footballer.
Divock Origi – 6
Origi was handed his first European start for Liverpool since 2016, with Roberto Firmino rested, but he didn’t exactly seize his opportunity.
That was partly down to Klopp’s men sitting back early, however, before he was replaced by Roberto Firmino at half-time.
Roberto Firmino (on for Origi, 46′) – 8
The Brazilian showed how precious he is, performing superbly. Won the ball back for Salah’s goal then scored his own to make it 3-1.
Joe Gomez (on for Alexander-Arnold, 66′) – 7
Brilliant to see our No. 12 return and he looked confident during his cameo.
Jordan Henderson (on for Robertson, 71′) – 7
Another impressive showing from the captain, who assisted Firmino with an inch-perfect cross and got through lots of work.
Subs not used: Mignolet, Keita, Shaqiri, Sturridge
Jurgen Klopp – 8
The manager made three changes to the side that beat Chelsea on Sunday, freshening things up sensibly.
The performance wasn’t good at all until Mane scored, but it is testament to Klopp that Liverpool get through these periods now.
The Reds pushed on and won convincingly, as the Liverpool boss reached his third European semi-final in his fourth season at Anfield.