Porto vs Liverpool: match report
Tonight's trip to the Estadio do Dragao was a return, at last for the club's fans, to the Champions League knock-out phase after nine long years. And what a return it was. Few of those related to The Reds could have imagined coming away from the home of the Portuguese league leaders with a five goal cushion. As with Manchester City's 0-4 win in Basel a night earlier, barring an unprecedented disaster, Liverpool will be in the virtual hat for the quarter final draw.
Klopp's unit working in unison
The obvious protagonists of the drizzly evening in Porto were the front trio of Firmino, Salah and Mane who scored all five goals. But there were so many moving parts to this Liverpool team that made the attacking roles possible. Henderson and Milner were solid, snuffing out potential dangers as they appeared. Wijnaldum was quick to link play across the stretching field. And in defence, much praise must be given: Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson getting forward well on the flanks and delivering quality balls into José Sá's area, keeping the home defenders wary. And in the centre, Lovren and Van Dijk were in control of much that threatened, while Karius commanded crosses flung towards his goal, while being sharp to clear up when required.
Salah, Firmino and Mane, Mane, Mane
But as convincing as a five goals to nil scoreline sounds, Klopp will know that the early exchanges were less one-sided, and it took a goalkeeping error from Sá to give Liverpool the lead, Mane getting a strike away which should never have slipped under the keeper on the 24th minute. Four minutes later Salah marked his 30th goal for the club in his debut season but controlling a Milner rebound off the post and dancing over Sá before tapping home. The Egyptian national team coach will hope this incredible form carries over into Russia this summer.
As Porto pushed on in the second half, they were always leaving themselves exposed and it didn't take long for Liverpool's trio to demonstrate. In the 52nd minute, Porto found themselves committed in the opposition half and as they were dispossessed, quick thinking and passing saw Salah break, recieve back a subline backheel pass from Firmino and when the Brazilian was fed again, his saved shot fell to Mane who stroked home cleanly. The game felt over but a smart finish from Firmino off a Milner cut back, and a sweet strike from the hat-trick hero made fans from both teams sense that the Last 16 tie has also been put to bed.
Read how it happened below...
Porto vs Liverpool: how it happened
90'+2' And that's it!!!! Five goals, a clean sheet and a comfortable second leg should be guaranteed. Klopp will be seen smiling...
90'+2' A long ball upfield from Porto looks, at first, to be a problem for the back-tracking defence but Karius steams out of his goal and heads away. That could be it...
90'+1' We're into the first of two minutes added time. Liverpool almost find a gap to create another chance but Porto do well to close it out.
89' It's a case of just seeing out this game now. Nothing of note to report as the final whistle approaches...
87' Klopp will be delighted to see his troops continue with the game plan. They don't want to make any mistakes.
85' Gooooaaaaaaalll!! Five for Liverpool and Mane takes home the match ball. What a sweet strike from the Mali man beating Sa in the right corner. There could be a fair few fringe players getting a run out at Anfield.
85' Mane almost gets his hat-trick but it was a difficult volley and it's over the bar.
80' There's no real sense that Porto are getting anything out of this for some time now. They look devoid of ideas, constantly seeing an orange wall ahead of them as Klopp's men work together to close them down.
78' Joe Gomez and Danny Ings getting a few minutes for the Reds with Firmino and TAA heading off.
76' Lovely run from Mane, almost making a mockery of other professionals, leaving one for dead with a shoulder drop, then skipping through two more to open up the field. Salah and Mane then try to conjour up a shot as the defence closes in. They can't.
74' Captain Henderson off, and Matip replaces him. Interesting, will Van Dijk move up a place?
72' Telles corner and Lovren clears - how many times those corners have come to nothing against this defence - and now Liverpool look to the bench for changes.
70' Van Dijk showing his defensive talents again with a perfectly timed last ditch tackle on Tiquinho
68' Goooooaaaaaaalllll!!! Firmino slots home a lovely break, Milner again an integral part to the move. The Englishman was played out to the left side of the Porto goal and cut it back instinctively for the Brazilian.
66' Corner delivered by Telles but van Dijk gets rid. Then Waris has a go and Karius claims without much trouble. Porto can't let this peter out.
64' TAA is sent out wide with a long diagonal and the young full back put it under his control like Neymar could, killed dead. He looks up and delivers a firm outswinger, just out of reach for the stretching Firmino.
63' Brahimi off for Abdul Majeed Waris
60' Lovren does well to clear the Porto pressure in his own area and another period of possession begins. That third goal has knocked the wind from the home side's sails.
58' Half chance, if that, for Soares. The ball drops from the sky about 25 yards out and he goes for the spectacular volley. It soooooaaaaars way, way high. More dejection.
57' Telles now with a cross but it's too easy for Karius to claim. Porto need to get a goal back if they have any hopes of seeing the quarter finals.
56' A stunned Porto create a shooting chance but the scuffed effort inside the area from Marega bobbles into the rarely-tested arms of Karius.
53' Mane finishes off a great counter attack to put Liverpool three up. As Porto looked to make something happen, an interception, quick couple of passes, and Salah, Firmino and Mane were sprinting forward. Firmino's deft back flick created space, he was then fed back in and his saved shot was finished off by Mane.
50' Clumsy from Milner this time. Late on Pereira. Rather than loft the ball into the area the home team look to build something clever but each time they look to pass into the area there is an orange shirt, or related foot or head, in the way.
49' Reyes shows great composure to deny Salah from getting in behind. Robertson at the other end is then called in to prevent an attack down his left side. No particular change of pace to the game although Corona is eager to get on the ball and show his worth.
48' Milner in the eye of the referee twice in quick succession. First the official waving play on for his challenge, then just seconds after, a free kick is given away for a late tackle from the evergreen Englishman.
46' One change at H/T for Porto with Jesus Corona on to shake things up. Off is Otavio
Teams are back out and we're back underway
Porto cannot leave the game as it is, clearly. They will not fancy themselves to win by three clear goals at Anfield in a couple of weeks so will have to start creating more chances, leaving that obvious risk in behind. One goal back and the crowd will really get behind them. No more mistakes from Sa would help after his head-hanging moment with Mane's opener.
This is a Liverpool side that will have surprised many with their opening approach. The praise given to Klopp's swashbuckling attacking team always comes tinged with criticism of the inevitable gaps that open up, often meaning points are wasted. This is much more of a 'mature' European performance, closing down Porto attacks as they enter their half but not overly pushing to throw everyone forward. How the second half goes will be deemed by the manager's comments...
Jürgen Klopp and Liverpool fans around the world couldn't have asked for a better score going into the break. The team leaving other Portuguese sides in their wake have found this test much harder and, although creating a few half-chances, will find it difficult to argue with the scoreline.
45'+1' Peeeep! That'll do for Mr Orsato who brings the first half to an end. Surprised there weren't a couple of extra minutes added on for a couple of stoppages but both managers have instructions to give out.
45' Milner again with a tremendous tackle. One of those you catch cleanly on the slide then get up and act all smug about. More than two-thirds of the ball for the guests in this half as the ref looks at his watch.
43' Chance! Porto pass their way to the edge of the Liverpool area and a firm hit by Tiquinho whistles by Karius' right post. Nice pass from Brahimi to set him free.
40' Once again, as if a clear tactic from Klopp, Liverpool get the ball under control and are in no rush to push on for more goals. Knocking the ball back to Karius is even a choice made to kill more time. Then as quick as you like they find a gap, speed up play and Wijnaldum lifts the ball over the defence, but no one on the same wavelength.
37' Milner is having an excellent game in the middle of the pitch, nothing spectacular but, along with Henderson, is snuffing out danger when it arises. Porto look naturally deflated, Liverpool, on the other hand, taking this game in their hard-working stride.
35' Mane is an out for Liverpool and again finds himself in green space on the right after neat build up in tight spaces from his colleagues. He looks to pick out Firmino in the centre but can't get it through the Porto cover.
33' The question here for Porto is how much to push for goals and when, all the time knowing an orange-shaded counter attack is waiting. On the plus side, Conceicao will have seen plenty Liverpool games where they have conceded later in the game and let the opposition back in.
31' Van Dijk trips Tiquinho and gives Porto a chance from a free kick to put the defence under pressure. Telles delivers, but it's poor and evades everyone. Goal kick for Karius.
29' Gooooaaaaaaallll!!! Salah makes it two. The Egyptian latches onto a Milner curling effort that smacks back off the post and despite being close, had to control, dink it over the keeper, and tap it home. What composure from the man of the moment on Merseyside.
26' A little stop in play now as Firmino got caught in a Porto sandwich but it was Reyes who came out of it worse.
25' Gooooaaaaallllll! Mane with the final strike that squeezes under Sa after strong work from Wijnaldum. There was a feeling that the slow start was changing and chances were growing. How do Porto respond.
22' Chance!! Firmino with a diving header at the front left post almost meets the great ball in from Robertson. The Scot is getting a name for that and his striking teammate will be disappointed not to have connected. Good couple of chances for the visitors in what is a building attack.
19' That discontent from the stands of the Estadio do Dragao is met with a quick attack from Liverpool. Wijnaldum gets in behind the defence on the right and as he tries to roll the ball into the tap-in path of Firmino it's well blocked.
17' Hector Herrera trips Mane and the Malian earns a free kick. The Reds go back again and there are some boos and whistles from the home fans for their slow play.
16' Brahimi looks to create something down the left but TAA shepherds him well and sees it out for a goal kick. Liverpool look to build again, no real urgency, which could be commended for a game like this.
14' Decent cross in from TAA but it works away for a goal kick to Porto. The general play has been slower than many expected with occasional bursts of danger. It has a cagey feel to it...
11' Firmino gets a shot away from outside the area but it clears the cross bar without any scare factor for Sa.
9' Porto win the ball back in the middle of the park and spread the play out wide to Otavio who then almost scores with a deflection taking it over the bar, Karius stranded. Porto second corner is swung in but well cleared
7' As the English side again take control of the ball there looks to be a clear instruction not to go gung-ho, with them happy to knock the passes along the backline.
5' A little pressure now from Porto who win a throw deep on the right. This is a positive sign for the home fans but they'll be wary of how quickly Liverpool can counter, often to devastating effect.
Corner to Porto. Good work down the left from the home side and Trent Alexander-Arnold (TAA from now on!) blocks. It's swung in by Telles and cleared in a crowded area.
2' The bright orange kit of the visitors certainly makes it easy to differentiate the two sets of players. And it's Klopp's side that are getting most of the early play. Mane down the left claims for a corner but it's not given.
1' Italian Daniele Orsato is the man in the middle as Liverpool get the first few touches of the game.
A shout out for Liverpool's Andy Robertson who is the only Scottish player still in the competition.
The teams shake hands with officials and opposition players before breaking for photos. Soares does a few high jumps and it will be him most likely to play furthest forward and put pressure on Lovren among others.
Almost time, the teams are heading out of the tunnel with mascots in hand. Big tifo in the stands fluttering above the fans as the Champions League anthem rings out.
For those asking, Real Madrid and Spain legend Iker Casillas is still with the club but is on the bench for the home side tonight.
This is what the stadium looked like a while ago in what is known as the calm before...
...Porto under Conceicao are sitting top of the Portuguese league (two points clear with a game in hand) and confidence is flowing. They come into this game on the back of three wins, scoring eight and conceding just the one. Aboubakar's power and strength is a miss but it will be interesting to see how the 11 starters settle into formation (certainly appears to be a 4-4-2) and to what extent they push on or sit, soak and counter.
The last time these sides played each other was in November 2007 when two goals for Fernando Torres helped the Reds to a 4-1 win. If Klopp's current strikeforce click - and the connection is fluid throughout the team as it has been several times this season - then Porto, even at home, could be in for a torrid ride. But that 'if' is rather important...
Both of these clubs are previous winners of this famous competition with Porto's surprise win in 2003/04, under the stewardship of José Mourinho, immediately followed by Liverpool's equally surprising win with Rafa Benitez.
Right, for all you romantics out there, remember that there are always ways to keep in touch with what is happening in tonight's two big Champions League games. Robbie is spreading his love all over Real Madrid vs PSG on our other live feed and whatever game you pick it only takes a quick glance at your device while the waiter pours another glass of wine.
Talking of that Red backline, Karius didn't put a foot, or hand, wrong in the recent 0-2 victory over Southampton in the Premier League. He will look to confirm his place as the absolute number one at the club and along with record-signing Virgil Van Dijk, add some solidity to a team that, although statistically doesn't give away many chances, has a poor chances to goal ratio at the back.
Porto manager Sergio Conceicao will be disappointed not to be able to call upon the injured striker Vincent Aboubakar for this key tie. The big Cameroonian has added a new dynamic to the Porto attack linking up with Marega and Brahimi. The latter two do indeed feature and will hope to get as much out of Soares as they look to pressure a Liverpool defence that has gained a reputation for its leakiness.
Liverpool starting XI: Karius, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Lovren, Robertson, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mane, Salah, Firmino
Porto starting XI: José Sá, Ricardo, Reyes, Marcano, Alex Telles, Herrera, Sérgio Oliveira, Otávio, Brahimi, Marega, Soares
Confirmed teams are in and it is pretty much as we expected for both sides with injuries and suspensions taken into consideration. First up the home side...
Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the first leg between Porto and Liverpool in the Champions League round of Last 16. I'll be keeping you posted of all the latest news ahead of kick off and then as 19:45 arrives in Portugal (20:45 CET) it'll be time for all the action from the pitch.