Sadio Mane (25′, 53′ 85′), Mohamed Salah (29′), Roberto Firmino (70′)
After nine agonisingly long years, Liverpool returned to the promised land that was the Champions League knockout stages last night, and with emphatic fashion, too. Liverpool put FIVE past a Porto side that was expected to put up much more of a fight than what they ended up mustering at Estadio de Dragao. Taking a 5-0 lead into the second leg is pretty much insurmountable but here’s The Anfield Talk’s Anthony (@anthonymarkmcav) with the Winners and Losers from a very successful outing in Porto.
WINNER: Sadio Mane
“He’s not in form”, “He needs to be dropped”, were both calls that many a Liverpool has made in recent weeks with the Senegalese winger seemingly slightly off the boil. He put that to rest last night with a tremendous performance, scoring Liverpool’s second hat-trick of this Champions League campaign.Embed from Getty Images
Granted, he was fortunate for both of his first two goals thanks to goalkeeper Jose Sa, (I’ll get to him) but the instinct to be in the right positions at the right time is there and to be clear, it never really went away.
Sadio scored his 10th, 11th and 12th goal of this campaign in all competitions, it’s high-time we get back behind him because if he can start firing in like last season, alongside Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, then everyone should be scared of us.
Porto knew of the prowess of Sadio Mane, in our pre-match opposition view, they singled him out as the player they’d fear the most. Read the entire chat with Brandon here.
LOSER: Joel Matip
For the second time in two Winners and Losers articles, I’m singling Joel Matip out as a loser. This is just down to how class Dejan Lovren has looked next to Virgil van Dijk at every single opportunity he’s been given.
The Reds looked defensively sound yet again last night, with Porto not even being able to truly scare our notoriously shaky defence. Lovren looked assured and capable next to the big Dutchman, even covering for him when he made a (rare) mistake.Embed from Getty Images
That kind of defensive unit is what we need at the club, a partnership that functions as a partnership and not two separate individuals like we have had many times in recent years. Lovren and Van Dijk could be that, and in the short term, I believe it will be.
WINNER: Jurgen Klopp
People billed Porto as the Portuguese gegenpressing side. That’s what we expected. It was wholeheartedly not what we got.
The Dragões came out negatively and played a game where they were happy to sit off the ball and let Liverpool hoard possession, with the Reds holding 70% of the ball in the first half. Jurgen Klopp pulled off a tactical masterclass here, quickly seeing the change in the way Porto played and adjusted his side accordingly.
Porto weren’t ready for Liverpool to handle the kind of blunt counter-attack with their own counter-attacks, and that was clear to see throughout the night, especially as the game moved into the second half and Porto had to come out and play and try and get something out of the tie in front of their home fans.
LOSER: Jose Sa
Blimey.Embed from Getty Images
Before last night, Jose Sa had started the same amount of first team games as Iker Casillas has Champions League campaigns. Porto definitely could have done with the latter’s experience and unquestionable ability.
The first goal just shouldn’t go in, a terrible error from Sa lead to the Sadio Mane’s shot finding a way underneath him. His distribution was generally poor, with Liverpool exposing this with their un-matched press.
He should do better for Mane’s second, parrying Firmino’s shot straight to the feet of the Senegal man.
Salah’s goal literally takes the piss out of him as a goalkeeper, doing keepy-ups around the keeper at 1-0 up in the first knockout round of the Champions League? The true King of Egypt.
ITS THE LAST 16 OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE….
MO SALAH DOES KEEPY UPS AROUND THE KEEPER TO MAKE IT 2-0
FOR A FUCKING LAUGH…
— The Redmen TV (@TheRedmenTV) February 14, 2018
WINNER: Gini Wijnaldum
Gini playing well in an away game? Who’d have thought it?
Alongside James Milner and Jordan Henderson in the Liverpool midfield, the Dutchman has been subject to criticism of his performances away from Anfield for the longest time but he put in a workhorse of a shift against Porto last night.
He set up Sadio Mane’s first goal with some incredible work off then on the ball, forcing the ball through the Porto defence leaving Mane open to find the net with his curling effort.
LOSER: Harry Kane
Wonder how it feels to be the second best striker in England?Embed from Getty Images
WINNER: Danny Ings
He’s come on with ten minutes to go. Making his Champions League debut, gets an assist and puts himself right into the thick of it. He’s definitely trying to prove that he can be an ample back up for Roberto Firmino and if he can keep this level of enterprise up, then I can see people being very happy with him being in the role that he is for the rest of the season.
WINNER: All of the beautiful, orange, Reds. Embed from Getty Images
This was such a complete performance, with hardwork and selflessness throughout the side. Accompanied by some cray good performances littered throughout the team. Bobby Firmino, excellent once again.
Virgil van Dijk, classy and tremendous.
James Milner ran the show in midfield, now with more assists in the Champions League this season than any other player.
Andy Robertson making his Champions League debut and kicking ass.
Trent Alexander-Arnold subduing Yacine Brahimi, who was thought to be Porto’s most dangerous man.
Loris Karius with yet another clean sheet in Europe’s premiere competition, no goalkeeper has more than him.
It was just a really lovely evening, onto the second leg in a couple of weeks, and West Ham next weekend.