Porto produced one of the worst-ever Champions League performances Liverpool had the pleasure to enjoy as the visitors romped to a 5-1 victory at the Estadio do Dragao.
Porto 1-5 Liverpool
Champions League Group Stage (2), Estadio do Dragao
September 28, 2021
Salah 18′ (assist – Jones)
Mane 45′ (assist – Milner)
Salah 60′ (assist – Jones)
Firmino 77′ (assist – Jones)
Firmino 81′ (assist – Jones)
The opening stages of Tuesday’s clash were dominated by injuries: Trent Alexander-Arnold before the Reds flew out, Pepe in the warmup and Porto midfielder Otavio forced off after 14 minutes.
It set a tepid backdrop for the game, as both sides struggled to build momentum early on, until a moment of magic from Curtis Jones – keeping his place for the third game running.
The 20-year-old, surging up the left flank, cut inside and onto his right, and after bending an effort on goal, saw it palmed out for Mohamed Salah to touch home and open the scoring.
That goal gave Liverpool impetus, with Porto shrinking back as red shirts flooded their half, crafting a series of openings that left goalkeeper Diogo Costa scrambling.
Jones looked a class apart as he drifted between his midfield role and the left wing, helping the Reds keep control of proceedings against an increasingly limp home side.
Liverpool’s impressive free-flowing play was rewarded on the cusp of half-time, with James Milner played through on the right, and the stand-in right-back’s teasing cross was bizarrely left by Costa to allow Sadio Mane to tap in.
HT: Porto 0-2 Liverpool
Marko Grujic came on for his new club after the break, entering a shambolic outfit dogged by errors at the back, with Diogo Jota almost handed a goal early into the second half after a sloppy header in the box.
Before the hour mark, Porto had used four of their possible five substitutions, which gives an indication of how poor Sergio Conceicao’s side were performing, lacking any composure in their own stadium.
More brilliance from Jones, spurred on by Jurgen Klopp‘s challenge for consistency, led to the third of the night, with the midfielder winning the ball near the halfway line before charging on and threading a pass across to Salah for 3-0.
A three-goal lead allowed Klopp to make a triple change, with Milner, Mane and Salah off and Joe Gomez, Takumi Minamino and Roberto Firmino on – the perfect tonic with Man City to come and Alexander-Arnold already sidelined.
Porto grabbed one back against the run of play with 15 minutes to play, though, with Mehdi Taremi capitalising on a sleeping defence to head an unstoppable effort beyond Alisson.
Loris Karius surely felt sympathy pains watching on in Berlin as Porto’s goalkeeper gifted Liverpool a fourth through calamitous circumstances, charging out to claim a ball when he had no reason to, missing it entirely and allowing Firmino roll it in from 40 yards out.
Firmino had another soon after, with a lengthy VAR check seeing the Brazilian ruled onside after Jones’ volley fell into his path for an easy finish.
After nine goals in their previous two visits to the Estadio do Dragao, the Reds kept up the tradition, this time aided by an abysmal home display.
Liverpool are unlikely to be given many easier runs of it in the Champions League in years to come – Porto simply crumbled under the pressure of recent history.
TIA Man of the Match: Curtis Jones
Referee: Sergei Karasev (RUS)
Porto: Costa; Corona, Pepe, Marcano, Sanusi (Wendell 56′); Uribe (Vitinha 56′), Oliveira (Pepe 67′); Otavio (Vieira 14′), Diaz; Martinez (Grujic 46′), Taremi
Subs not used: Marchesin, Cardoso, Conceicao, Costa, Evanilson, Mario, Manafa
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Konate, Phillips, Williams, Tsimikas, Keita