LIVERPOOL 0-0 PORTO
Liverpool held onto their 5 goal advantage from the first leg to gain victory over their Portuguese opponents despite not scoring at Anfield. A place in the Champions League Quarter Finals is now secured.
Jurgen Klopp had picked a winning side in the recent Premier League victory over Newcastle and a few changes were made to that squad. Some players were being “rested” with Salah and Van Dijk on the substitute bench in order to be fully fit and ready for facing Manchester United soon but it was hardly a “weakened” lineup, Liverpool have more than 11 strong players to pick from in their squad.
The first half started slow. Liverpool set a tempo to the game that saw them gaining and keeping possession regularly with not much attacking play being shown at first. The home side who already had a 5 goal lead were content to keep the ball and though I wouldn’t call it “time-wasting”, they didn’t seem to be their usual selves, the attacking play was rare and most of the play going on was in the midfield. Nothing to worry about at the back but certainly not much activity that was bothering Porto goalkeeper Casillas.
As the game progressed, Porto seemed to pressure Liverpool into making more and more offensive tactics, like they were daring the home side to try and score 5 goals again, a “see if you can do it again” challenge that was ultimately, failed. Nobody needs to win 10-0 though, Liverpool were seemingly content with the lead that was going to give them qualification for the next round of the Champions League without even needing to score any more goals.
Karius was needed occasionally and did not disappoint at the times when Anfield was calling for him to stop Porto from scoring. Credit to Karius who kept a clean sheet and the tight defence in front of him, they all did their defensive jobs well when needed.
Liverpool were not entirely without chances to score and Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Danny Ings all saw opportunities which were almost goals.
Ings really impressed with his dangerous movement inside of the Porto penalty area and shot/almost scored with a couple of headers that Casillas had real trouble dealing with. He hasn’t had a whole lot of appearances this season but he certainly showed that if you give him a chance to prove himself, he’ll not let you down for doing so.
So close but the former Real Madrid first choice goalkeeper made things much more tough in this leg, showing form that looked like he had something to prove. He seemed determined to not let anybody score at Anfield, though the damage had already been done in Portugal in this two-leg Champions League tie. His clean sheet still wouldn’t stop Liverpool from qualifying to the Champions League Quarter Finals.
Man of the Match
I mentioned that Liverpool had plenty of midfield battles throughout the fixture and James Milner was a big part of that. He was winning balls, keeping the flow of football going and inspiring other teammates to make runs into dangerous positions. If there was a goal scored, you can be sure that Milner would have had the assist. He was trying to get the ball to almost anyone who had a remote chance of scoring and did so well consistently, taking on the Porto defence like a natural attacker. He’s also a trusted set piece taker and that’s one less thing to worry about for Liverpool. We can count on Milner.
Liverpool will now focus on important Premier League football for now as the battle for 2nd place continues and Liverpool are about to play Manchester United.
Walk on with hope in your hearts, Anfield Family. You’ll Never Walk Alone.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (more than 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s