FC Porto 0-5 Liverpool: Mane’s Hat-trick Sinks Portuguese Giants
The magnificent outcomes of Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur put more pressure on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool when they travelled to Portugal to contest heavyweights FC Porto at Estádio do Dragão. The Blues and Whites, under Sérgio Conceição, are still unbeaten domestically and are frontrunners to lift the Primeira Liga title.
Their vast European experience made them an admirable force and the Reds, despite a great group stage run and an unbeaten streak against the Wednesday night counterparts, were cautious enough in search of a favourable outcome on the road.
The game, surprisingly, proved to be a one-sided affair as the visitors made the hosts suffer by handing them a gigantic 5-0 loss.
The home side started the game more brightly in heavy rain and young Otavio showed great footwork to open up the Liverpool defence. But his strike deflected off Dejan Lovren to go over the bar. The Reds gradually settled in and received an absolute favour from Porto Custodian Jose Sa who let Sadio Mane’s strike slip through his body to let it end up in the back of the net.
The hosts were desperately looking for the counter but struggled against Liverpool’s counter-attacking moves and the pressing allowed Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner to win back possession in the middle of the park. The latter’s sensational strike hit the woodwork but the rebound fell in the path of a magnificent Mo Salah who used his feet and head to control and finish calmly to double the lead inside first 45 minutes into the game.
Tiquinho had a glorious opportunity to pull one back in the closing minutes of the first-half but his strike went just wide of the target.
Liverpool started the second-half in a similar fashion and a vintage counter-attacking threat formed by their dynamic ‘front three’ ended up in the back of the net, as Sadio Mane grabbed his second of the night. Roberto Firmino joined the party after slotting home a James Milner pass. The game was not over yet and Sadio Mane grabbed his hat-trick with a stunning strike to put the hosts in further misery.
The game thus ended 5-0 in favour of the visitors who are now almost certain to seal a slot in the last eight of the competition.
Liverpool Player Ratings
Loris Karius (7)
The custodian was caught wrong-footed due to the deflection off Lovren, when he was dealing with Otavio’s early strike which went just over the crossbar. The German custodian looked confident with his outing and decent while distributing.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (7.5)
The teenager had problems early in the game against Yacine Brahimi and Alex Telles down the right-hand flank but managed to deal with it and maintained composure throughout the game. Was taken off late in the game to be replaced by Joe Gomez who returned from a minor injury.
Dejan Lovren (8)
The Croatian did well to obstruct Otavio from having a clean hit on the target as the Brazilian’s strike got deflected off him to go over the bar. Made a few crucial blocks and interceptions and didn’t invite much trouble.
Virgil Van Dijk (8)
Van Dijk was a massive influence in deep defence with his physical and aerial supremacy along with overlap runs to create space for the attackers up front. His slightest touch took Tiquinho’s late first-half strike off the target by a slender margin which, however, remained unnoticed by the referee. Made a massive last-ditch tackle in the second half to keep the clean sheet intact.
Andrew Robertson (8)
Was excellent against an in-form Moussa Marega. Kept on making forward runs, whipped in excellent crosses and delivered a solid performance on his Champions League debut.
Jordan Henderson (7)
The skipper did well to break down plenty of Porto’s moves in the middle of the park. Lacked creativity up front but mostly restricted himself to a deeper midfield role to screen the defence and win back possession. Was subbed off and got replaced by Joel Matip in the second-half.
James Milner (8.5)
The veteran Englishman had a massive influence on Liverpool’s second goal as his majestic strike hit the woodwork, with Mo Salah making no mistake to score from the rebound. Milner won back possession by pressing hard and made relentless runs all over the ground. Assisted the Reds’ fourth of the night which was converted by Roberto Firmino.
Georginio Wijnladum (8)
The Dutchman has not been at his best this season but was absolutely stunning in the midfield tonight, using his physical supremacy and hard work to control the game in the middle of the park.
Mohamed Salah (8.5)
His passing could have been better at times but the Egyptian just bagged his 30th Liverpool goal in debut campaign by showing great composure, using his left foot and head to double the lead within first half an hour of the game. Played a massive part in Liverpool’s third of the night, minutes into the second half following a trademark counter-attacking move which was eventually finished by Sadio Mane.
Sadio Mane (9.5)
Was troubling the Porto backline with his footwork and got his reward when he opened the account early in the game, with massive favour from the hosts’ custodian Jose Sa who let it slip through his body. The Senegalese got massive confidence booster minutes into the second half by slotting home from close range following a stunning counter-attack. He then went on to grab his hat-trick with a stunning strike and made it 5-0 for the Reds.
Roberto Firmino (8)
Worked hard, covered a lot of ground like he always does and forced Sa into making a good stop only to be finished by Sadio Mane from the rebound to make it 3-0 for the visitors. He then joined the party after slotting home Milner’s pass and humiliated the hosts furthermore. Was taken off for Danny Ings late in the game.
Joel Matip (7)
Provided more stability in the defence and helped his side earn an easy clean sheet.
Joe Gomez (7)
Did well in his usual right-back slot and helped his side maintain defensive composure.
Danny Ings (7.5)
The Englishman suffered a lot due to horrific injuries but marked his Champions League debut with an assist for Sadio Mane’s third of the night.