Liverpool coasted through their fifth group game of the Champions League, with goalscorer Thiago the standout performer in a comfortable 2-0 victory over Porto.
Liverpool 2-0 Porto
Champions League (5), Anfield
November 24, 2021
Goals: Thiago 52′, Salah 70′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
Captain for the night, and it was a quiet one for the goalkeeper.
Bar one misfired pass out in the second half, it was a straightforward display from Alisson.
Neco Williams – 7
In only his second start of the campaign and the first against top-level opposition, Williams had a tough task in front of him up against the pacy Luis Diaz.
After a few early bursts from the Porto winger, though, the Welshman had little to worry about, and he was able to showcase his energy and urgency pushing forward into attack.
Ibrahima Konate – 6
Unlucky to be booked in the first half but was heavy-handed in the early stages as he returned to the side after three games unused, in what was his first start alongside Joel Matip.
In time, he composed himself and there were few other worries for him up against a limp Porto attack.
Joel Matip – 7
The senior figure in the defence, there were concerns raised over Matip’s communication at half-time, though individually he produced a strong showing.
Like Konate, as the game settled he was able to almost coast in autopilot.
Kostas Tsimikas – 6
Looks like he doesn’t sleep much and started in the same vein, but the left-back did improve as the game wore on.
His overlapping runs were useful, largely in giving Sadio Mane space, though that he was quiet for much of the night as Andy Robertson returned may not be the best timing.
Tyler Morton – 7
“Nobody plays the No. 6 like Fabinho,” Jurgen Klopp said of his Champions League debutant before the game, “so why should he?”
That was not only a message to Morton, but also to those watching on, with the performance of a 19-year-old in only his second start for the club never likely to match up to that of the world’s best defensive midfielder.
He did not let the weight of the occasion affect him, and it was his stunning long-range pass that created the uncertainty to allow Mo Salah to make it 2-0.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 7
Making a fourth consecutive start for the first time since 2018 – and on his second-longest run in the side since joining the club – Oxlade-Chamberlain looks to be benefiting from this consistency.
He was sharp and tidy, using the ball well, though he often ran into trouble when trying to make things happen in the final third.
Thiago – 8 (Man of the Match)
What a hit. You will never see a ball hit sweeter than that.
Even before that moment of ridiculousness, Thiago was Liverpool’s best player; he passed well, he tidied up alongside Morton and could have come away with an assist had the offside flag not ruled Mane out.
And no, Xavi. Even if Barcelona could afford him, you aren’t having him.
Mohamed Salah – 7
Klopp may not have needed to start Salah, but if he hadn’t, no doubt there would have been a knock on his office door the following day.
Liverpool’s No. 11 wants to start every game, and though he seemed to treat much of his night against Porto as a training exercise, he still popped up with a brilliant goal to make it 2-0.
Sadio Mane – 6
Given his rib issues and the availability of Divock Origi it was something of a surprise to see Mane start, but the decision was almost vindicated until VAR deemed his first-half goal to have come from an offside position.
Mane scrapped and scraped his way through the game, and fortunately made it through his 71-minute outing without injury.
Takumi Minamino – 6
It was a big opportunity for Minamino, in the No. 9 role between Liverpool’s two first-choice wingers, but it understandably took time for him to find his feet.
Once he did, the 26-year-old grew in influence, with his movement particularly impressive, though Klopp will want him to impose himself more.
Jordan Henderson (on for Thiago, 63′) – 7 – Slotted in immediately, with a smart ball to assist Salah.
Andy Robertson (on for Tsimikas, 63′) – 6 – Looked eager to impress on his return to the side. Wonder why?
Divock Origi (on for Salah, 71′) – 6 – Thought he’d won a penalty, but was outside the box. Showed willingness on the left flank.
Fabinho (on for Mane, 71′) – 6 – Not a bad role model to step in alongside young Tyler.
James Milner (on for Oxlade-Chamberlain, 82′) – 6 – Back after a month out, booked. Clearly didn’t fancy that trip to Milan.
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Van Dijk, Phillips, Alexander-Arnold, Jota
Jurgen Klopp – 8
Klopp’s hands were tied to an extent with team selection, but went strong to keep the perfect record intact and pick up that £2 million in prize money.
His faith in Morton, the club’s youngest Champions League starter since Trent Alexander-Arnold, shone through as the teenager played the full 90 minutes, and his involvement was warranted.
The call to start both Salah and Mane was almost certainly prompted by the sports scientists at Kirkby, with Origi only recently back from illness and Diogo Jota not fully fit.
He was able to reintroduce all three of Robertson, Henderson and Milner after injury, which boosts his options for the busy month ahead.
Hopefully, no injury problems will arise in the days after this game. If not, it’s job done.