Lierpool have one foot in the quarter-finals already after their Round of 16 first leg tie as they thrashed Porto 5-0 at Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday.
Sergio Conceicao’s men started the game on the front foot as Liverpool initially settled for a counter-attacking style of play. But, after a couple of early chances for Porto, it was the visitors who dominated the possession, making the match a largely one-sided affair after the deadlock was broken in the 25th minute.
Sadio Mane opened the scoring with a shot that should have been saved by Jose Sa, before Mohamed Salah doubled the advantage with a nice piece of skill as the Reds entered the break with a two-goal lead. They quickly added to their lead in the second half as Mane finished off a swift counter.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) February 15, 2018
Roberto Firmino then scored the fourth before Mane rounded off the win with a spectacular long-range strike. The result means Liverpool’s progression into the quarter-finals is almost a formality now. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius: 7/10
It was a night when Karius didn’t have to do much after some initial scares, with Liverpool dominating the proceedings for the most part. In all, the German made just three regulation saves, but his growing confidence is evident by his positioning and catching in aerial situations. Seems to have received a morale boost after his manager has made him the first-choice at Anfield.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8/10
Alexander-Arnold had his hands full with the tricky customer that is Yacine Brahimi. But, after initially negating the threat of the Algerian, he concentrated more on becoming an outlet out wide on the right flank, with his superb passing range, and did so with elan. The Englishman is going places.
Dejan Lovren: 8/10
Dejan Lovren quietly had a good game. He made a key block on Otavio’s shot on goal (when score was 0-0) which would have beaten Karius and may have effected our game. pic.twitter.com/V5zFJIi749
— Moby LFC Scout (@MobyHaque) February 15, 2018
Lovren seems to have found a partner he can trust in van Dijk, and that shows in his decisiveness and confidence in challenges. On Wednesday, he made a few vital interventions, the first of which stopped a certain goal by Otavio in the early stages of the match. Looks better on the right side of the centre-back partnership.
Virgil van Dijk: 8/10
After a couple of poor performances, van Dijk seems to have found his feet at Liverpool over the last few games. Making his Champions League debut for the Reds on Wednesday, the Dutchman initially looked a little nervy, but soon retained his calm persona.
Absolutely nothing could go past him on the night in the air, as he dominated aerial situations against the imposing Moussa Marega with aplomb. Has struck up a fine partnership with Lovren at the heart of defence.
Virgil van Dijk vs Porto
72 completed passes – most on the pitch
2/2 aerial duels
This guy is unreal 🔥 pic.twitter.com/sWQdaMaQSg
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) February 14, 2018
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Another no-nonsense performance at the back, that helped Robertson on his forward forays. The Scot was barely troubled at the back, and he was always an outlet going forward. What has been remarkable about his performances is that he always maintains his energy levels throughout the game, and it was more of the same on Wednesday.
James Milner: 8/10
Milner justified his selection on the night by producing his best performance of the season. The veteran was tireless in his work in the middle of the park, as he helped kill off the space for the Porto attack to work with. He was an even bigger factor going forward though.
James Milner has registered more assists (6) than any other player in the Champions League this season.
Certainly not boring. 🎯 pic.twitter.com/W3uzUc4p5S
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 14, 2018
Milner played a major role in the second goal as it was his shot that rebounded off the post before Salah calmly converted. His assist for the fourth goal was even better, as he made a purposeful run down the left flank before cutting the ball back for Roberto Firmino. Milner now has more assists in the Champions League than anyone else.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Henderson’s managed minutes seem to be reaping dividends as he looked raring to go on Wednesday. Against Porto, he was full of energy as he shut down the channels while also circulating the ball smartly and quickly. His presence in front of the back-four meant Milner and Wijnaldum could be more adventurous.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 8/10
It wasn’t long back when we were talking about Wijnaldum being a liability in away games for Liverpool, but all that seems to be hogwash now. The Dutchman provided a burst of energy and charged forward with purpose all through the game. His movement helped create the space that the front trio thrived in.
Mohamed Salah: 8.5/10
Mohamed Salah is the first Liverpool player to score 30 goals in all competitions in a single season since Luis Suarez (31) in 2013/14. pic.twitter.com/bFKZFcyicg
— PurelyFootball UK (@PurelyFootball) February 15, 2018
The signing of the season – he just keeps on proving with each performance. On Wednesday, he notched up his 30th goal of the season, becoming only the 13th Liverpool player to achieve the feat. The finish for his goal was an exemplification of the composure and coolness he possesses as he danced past an exasperating Jose Sa before finding the back of the net.
His work rate came to the fore on the night as well, and a defence splitting pass played a major role in the Reds’ third goal of the night. What a gem Liverpool have on their hands.
Roberto Firmino: 8/10
The second of the terrific front trio, Firmino was brilliant once again as he scored his 21st goal of the season to continue his best ever campaign for Liverpool. As always, the Brazilian ran and ran and ran to help his teammates out, and was a menace with his bagful of tricks, one of which started the move for Mane’s second.
Sadio Mane: 9/10
After several games wherein he flattered to deceive, Mane finally took matters into his own hands to shrug off talks of a petering out season. His first touch deserted him a lot of times in the first half, and his first goal was more due to Jose Sa’s error more than anything, but come the second half all that would change.
Klopp thrilled to have Mane back among the goals pic.twitter.com/ric1LHRk5H
— Goal (@goal) February 15, 2018
Mane showcased impeccable work rate off the ball post the break, while also scoring two superb goals, the second of these being breathtaking. In what has been an underwhelming season for him, 108 minutes per every direct contribution – a goal or an assist – showcase just how high his levels have still been.