First half goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino fired Liverpool to a 2-0 win over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Liverpool started the game in the best way possible as Naby Keita opened the scoring just minutes after kick-off via a deflected effort, after being fed in by Roberto Firmino at the edge of the area. Mohamed Salah almost made it 2-0 minutes it later, but was denied by Porto keeper Iker Casillas.
The Egyptian had another excellent opportunity to double Liverpool’s lead halfway through the first period, but his chipped effort trickled just wide off the mark. Minutes later, Liverpool doubled their advantage with Roberto Firmino tapping a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross into an empty net.
Porto almost managed to halve the lead a minute later, but goalkeeper Alisson Becker pulled off a smart save to keep Moussa Marega out. The visitors were then denied a penalty claim, following which Marega was presented with another excellent chance, but he failed to make the most of it again, firing a tame effort at Alisson.
A solid first leg, Reds. 🔴
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 9, 2019
Post the half-time break, the game ebbed as neither teams were able to create many opportunities, although Marega once again wasted a chance to bring Porto back into the game at the hour mark, while Sadio Mane had a goal chalked off for offside. Liverpool did well to hold on to their lead and have one foot in the semi-final, and will be hoping to finish the job in Portugal.
Here’s how we rated the performances of Jurgen Klopp’s men on the night;
Alisson Becker: 7/10
Not tested a great deal by the profligate Marega, but made a very sharp save with his foot to keep the Porto striker out in the first half. Made another fairly straightforward stop from the Malian forward post the break. A solid display apart from a slight mix-up with Virgil van Dijk on one occasion.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7/10
Started off a bit slugglishly, allowing Porto to exploit the spaces behind him, but grew as the game progressed. Always an enterprising outlet going forward, the 20-year-old put the ball on a plate for Firmino for the second goal with a brilliant low cross. Much more solid after the break and made an important clearance.
Dejan Lovren: 6.5/10
Back into the first-team after almost three months, the Croatian international naturally looked off pace early on as Marega got the better of him on a few occasions. But improved as the game wore on, making some important recovery tackles and blocks. A solid enough performance considering how long he has been out on the sidelines.
Virgil van Dijk: 7.5/10
Another authoritative performance from the towering Dutchman. Organized things well at the back, commanded his area well and ensured Porto did not pose a huge threat to his side’s goal. Such an important member on the field for Liverpool.
James Milner: 7.5/10
Stepped into the left-back role with Andrew Robertson being suspended, the veteran Englishman showed why he is such a crucial member of the team, putting in a rock-like solid display at the back. Always in the right position to snuff out danger and while he doesn’t provide the same outlet as Robertson in attack, it was his pass to Sadio Mane that started the move for the first goal.
Jordan Henderson: 8/10
Handed a start ahead of Georginio Wijnaldum after his brilliant cameo against Southampton at the weekend, the Liverpool captain shone on the night at Anfield. Sliced open the visitors defence with a brilliant pass for Alexander-Arnold in the buildup to Liverpool’s second. Set Mane up for an opportunity with a delightful ball, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
Slotting in a slightly more advanced role than usual he had the licence to push forward from the middle, which he did regularly, while never shying away from his defensive responsibilities.
Another steady and solid display by the Brazilian in front of the back four. Swept things up well and won a number of his duels in the midfield to shield the defence effectively. His passing was a bit off the radar early on in the game, but improved with time.
Naby Keita: 8.5/10
Having scored his first goal for Liverpool against Southampton on Friday night, the Guinean midfield dynamo backed it up with his second strike against Porto, albeit via a generous deflection. Seems much more confident now, which can be seen in the way he runs at defenders with the ball, with intent and purpose. Showed bite and tenacity in the midfield as well, making the most number of tackles (8).
Mohamed Salah: 6.5/10
Always posed a threat in the final third and constantly got the better of Alex Telles, but Salah could not convert that into a goal or an assist. Should have found the net after reacting to a poor back-pass in the first half, but his effort went wide. Lucky not to have been sent off for a studs-up challenge on Danilo in the second period.
Roberto Firmino: 8.5/10
Another top notch display from the Brazilian forward. Lively from the kick-off, Firmino set Keita up for the opening goal and then doubled Liverpool’s lead with a simple finish. Should have had a second not long after, but fired his effort over. Some of his link-up play and footwork was a treat.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
Involved in the buildup to the opening goal, as he found Firmino who set Keita up for the goal. Industrious as always and showed some neat link-up with Keita in the left channel. Dropped deep to help out in defence when needed as well. Had a goal chalked off for a marginal offside call in the second half.
Divock Origi: 6/10
Came on for Mane in the 73rd minute. Looked confident on the ball and ran at the opposition defence.
Daniel Sturridge: N/A
Replaced Firmino with less than ten minutes left on the clock.