Curtis Jones was phenomenal while Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino impressed as Liverpool cruised to a 5-1 win over FC Porto on Tuesday.
Liverpool were in control of the proceedings pretty much from the get-go, with FC Porto struggling to get into the visitors’ half apart from the odd break. And it was the Reds who broke the deadlock in the 18th minute, as Mohamed Salah scored from close range after Diogo Costa had saved an initial effort from Curtis Jones.
Thereafter, Liverpool kept probing for a second goal, with Porto hardly managing to get out of their own half. And the Reds did double their advantage on the stroke of half-time, as Sadio Mane was at the end of a bending cross into the six-yard box by James Milner which evaded everyone but the Senegales forward.
Post the break, it was more of the same, with Liverpool upping the ante further before Jones set Salah up for his second of the night. With the game pretty much won, Jurgen Klopp made a raft of changes, which briefly handed Porto some control in the game, with the hosts duly pulling a goal back through Mehdi Taremi, who was set up by a superb looping cross by Fabio Vieira.
However, that was as good as it got for the hosts, as two goals in quick succession by Roberto Firmino ended up putting the game to bed, with Liverpool maintaining their two-point lead at the top of Group B ahead of a double head with Atletico Madrid. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
A largely quiet evening for Alisson, who barely had anything to do apart from making a couple of regulation saves and completing most of his attempted passes. Could not have done anything to deny Mehdi Taremi from close range.
James Milner: 8/10
Deputising for the unavailable Trent Alexander-Arnold, Milner was an industrious presence on the right flank. Granted, there were a few sloppy moments on the ball and he lost possession 24 times, but the veteran Englishman also set Sadio Mane up with a peach of a bending cross before making way for Joe Gomez. Job well done.
Joel Matip: 7/10
For the most part in the early stages of the season, Matip has proven to be a solid customer alongside Virgil van Dijk at the heart of the Liverpool defence. And it was more of the same on Tuesday, when he won seven duels while completing three interceptions and two clearances while also retaining a passing rate of 90 percent. Like the rest of the Liverpool defenders, he too switched off when Porto pulled a goal back.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
For much of the game, van Dijk was at his solid best and organised the Liverpool backline smartly to snuff out the space for Porto to exploit. However, his rating is docked slightly for the moment when Liverpool’s defensive line ran helter-skelter leading up Mehdi Taremi’s goal, when he ought to have been marking the Porto striker. Won six duels and made four interceptions in a solid outing otherwise.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Robertson was synonymous with the word relentless on Tuesday night. A constant outlet down the left flank, the Scottish international combined beautifully with Curtis Jones on his side of the pitch to leave Porto on their backsides on a number of occasions. The only blemish in an otherwise world class performance was his wastefulness on the ball at times, as he lost possession 17 times. Sublime otherwise.
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
A typically tenacious performance by Henderson, who harried the Porto midfielders with some smart pressing while also pulling off a couple of interceptions. And as was the running theme from the deep-lying Liverpool midfielders, Henderson also opened up play nicely with accurate long passes. Efficient display.
An indomitable presence in the middle of the park, Fabinho played a key role in ensuring Porto seldom managed to get on top of Liverpool. The Brazilian international also opened up play smartly on a number of occasions with the help of long passes, including in the build-up to Mane’s goal, as he found Milner in acres of space on the right flank. Defensively, he was a rock, winning eight duels on the night.
Curtis Jones: 10/10
Curtis Jones' game by numbers vs. Porto:
89% pass accuracy
7 duels won
4 long balls attempted
3 chances created
2 fouls won
Magical night for the 20-year-old. pic.twitter.com/hupmv6mf8S
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 28, 2021
Having earned his place in the starting lineup for a third successive game, Jones made sure that he will now likely be handed yet another start this coming weekend with a brilliant performance. A bright spark in the middle of the park, the 20-year-old was involved in four of the five goals that Liverpool scored on the day.
For the first, it was his driving run that sliced open the Porto defence before he sparked the move for Mohamed Salah’s second, wherein he set the Egyptian up for a simple close range goal. Jones then found Roberto Firmino for his first before his shot ricocheted towards the Brazilian for his second of the night. Oozing confidence now.
Mohamed Salah: 8/10
One simply cannot stop this man from scoring right now. Salah was once again a part of the action in the final third, even if there was a touch of fortune for one of his goals. Having said that, Salah has to be given props for his superb positioning when Jones had his effort parried his way, although there was nothing lucky about being set up by the youngster for his second.
6 – Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last six appearances for Liverpool in all competitions; the first time a player has netted in six in a row for the club since April 2018, when Salah himself scored in seven consecutive games. Irrepressible. pic.twitter.com/l4OhKXfm5W
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 28, 2021
Diogo Jota: 6/10
A frustrating evening for Jota, who kept probing all night long but could not manage to find the back of the net. While he was denied twice by a couple of decent stops by Diogo Costa, the Portuguese international also left the exasperation get the better of him as the minutes passed which also reflected in the fact that he lost the ball an alarming 17 times. No harm done, though.
Sadio Mane: 7/10
An impressive performance by Mane, who is back among the goals, with the positioning for his goal being top notch. Other than that moment, the Senegalese forward was typically a bundle of energy on the left side of the Liverpool attack and even played a couple of key passes all while barely losing possession. Job well done.
Joe Gomez: 6/10
Gomez settled in the right-back slot but was not too comfortable in the position. There were a few positioning issues, although he did win five duels. Could not manage to keep out Mehdi Taremi for his goal, although the Porto striker was not his man to mark in all fairness.
Roberto Firmino: 8/10
Bobby Firmino vs Porto
• 11/15 (73%) passes
• 2 shots (2nd)
• 2 goals (1st)
• 2/2 tackles (2nd for LFC)
Some cameo off the bench 😅
Averaging a goal every 42 minutes in the Premier League & Champions League this season 🔥 pic.twitter.com/tfPRst1cK5
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) September 28, 2021
On for Salah, Firmino got some more minutes under his belt as he continues his comeback trail after recovering from a hamstring injury. And this time around, the Brazilian forward got a feel of the goals again, producing two composed finishes in the final quarter of the game in what is sure to be a confidence booster for him.
Takumi Minamino: 6/10
On for Mane, Minamino settled into a central role, playing off of Firmino, although he could not get closer to the Porto box on this occasion.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10
A bright cameo by Oxlade-Chamberlain, who looked to take the opposition defenders on and even came close to scoring from a free-kick.
Divock Origi: N/A
A late introduction, Origi barely managed a touch on the ball before full-time.