Liverpool and Porto played out a drab goalless draw at Anfield in the Round of 16 second leg on Tuesday as the Reds eased into the quarter-finals.
Porto manager Sergio Conceicao practically admitted defeat by starting a second string side, with the hosts themselves not playing at top gear. As a result chances came few and far between, particularly in the first half when Sadio Mane’s thumping shot against the upright was the only moment to remember.
The tempo of the game was raised in the second half, although neither side managed to still produce a glut of chances. Danny Ings had the biggest chance of the night in the dying minutes of the game when his header was tipped over the bar by Iker Casillas, who was making his final Champions League outing for Porto.
With a 5-0 lead already in the bag from the first leg though, Liverpool ended up confirming the inevitable as they progressed to the quarter-finals with the comfortable aggregate win. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Loris Karius: 6/10
5️⃣ clean sheets in his last 7️⃣ games.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) March 7, 2018
A quiet night for Karius for the most part as most of the two sides battled on in midfield. The German had just one save to make, when he had to get down swiftly to keep Majid Waris at bay. Otherwise, he had to mostly come out to collect high balls enroute another clean sheet that will boost his confidence.
Joe Gomez: 6.5/10
Back in the team after finally recovering from a knee injury, Gomez had the perfect sort of game get a run-out and get some rhythm back into his game. The Englishman defended diligently, whenever called into action, but he made little impact in the final third.
Joel Matip: 6/10
Matip wasn’t tested much for most of the night apart from his early duels with Vincent Aboubakar that had him in trouble at times. His passing was a little wayward at time, but it was, all in all, a comfortable outing for the Cameroonian.
Dejan Lovren: 7/10
This was another game in the Dejan Lovren resurgence story. While the Croat wasn’t tested much on the night, he made a fine block on Oliver Torres’ late effort which helped preserve Liverpool’s clean sheet. He came close to scoring as well as his early headed effort looped over the crossbar.
All in all though, it was a strong performance by a player who looks the likelier of Thursday’s duo to start alongside Virgil van Dijk against Manchester United.
Alberto Moreno: 6.5/10
A rare start for the Spaniard who has fallen below Andrew Robertson in the pecking order. Moreno though, gave a good account of himself on the night, defending smartly whenever needed and advancing forward to help out in attack.
The highlight of his outing came in the first half when he showed the desire to keep the ball in play in the buildup to Sadio Mane’s strike that struck the bar. A fine option for Klopp.
Jordan Henderson: 6.5/10
The Liverpool captain started a second game in a row for the first time in a while, and he showed little signs of fatigue. In typical fashion, Henderson was workmanlike in midfield, making five tackles and two interceptions.
His passing could still do with some improvement as evidenced by a heavy pass towards Roberto Firmino that could have otherwise sent him clean through on goal.
Emre Can: 6/10
The anchorman in front of the back-four, Can was rather adventurous on Thursday, with the game already put to bed in the first leg. The German was a solid customer defensively as he absorbed all the pressure through the middle, but his forward forays yielded precious little.
James Milner: 7/10
James Milner vs Porto
3 key passes – most on the pitch
1 aerial duel
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) March 6, 2018
Milner has been fantastic in his recent performances and this was another such outing. The veteran put in a big shift on the night and was the most proactive player on the field looking to make things happen while also being diligent in his defensive duties. Appeared to be determined to get a goal for himself, but it wasn’t to be in the end.
Sadio Mane: 6.5/10
The woodwork seemed to be his sworn enemy on the night as Mane first shot just over the crossbar before rattling the upright in the first half. Tailed off after the break before eventually being replaced by Mohamed Salah.
Roberto Firmino: 6/10
Firmino took it easy on the night, perhaps with one eye on the Manchester United game. But, what is unmistakable about his game is his willingness to help out defensively, which was again visible on Thursday. Taken off at the hour mark to be preserved for the clutch weekend game.
Adam Lallana: 6.5/10
Lallana made his first start in the longest time and got some crucial minutes under his belt as he continues making his way back to peak sharpness since returning from a long-term injury. Had some nice, tricky touches that invited a few fouls from the Porto players and this was one major step in the right direction.
Danny Ings: 7/10
On for the final half an hour, Ings is another player who got to rack up some much needed game time. He even had a fine chance to score in the dying minutes of the match, but was denied by Iker Casillas.
Mohamed Salah: 6/10
Rested by Klopp to keep him in prime condition for the Manchester United game, Salah got a fine run-out for the final 15 minutes, looking dangerous with his movement. Created the chance for Ings’ headed effort.