Liverpool 2-0 Porto: Player ratings as Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino hand Reds control of tie

Alex Rea 10/04/2019
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Liverpool players celebrate their opener against Porto

Job done for Liverpool? Jurgen Klopp‘s side will take a commanding 2-0 lead to Porto next week after goals from Naby Keita and Robert Firmino put them in the driving seat for a spot in the Champions League semi-final.

Having overcome the same visitors 5-0 on aggregate last season in the last 16, it was another comfortable victory.

The Reds got the perfect start in the fifth minute when James Milner swung out a ball to Sadio Mane on the left.

He found Roberto Firmino in support and he teed up Keita – who scored at Southampton last Friday – for a shot that was deflected in by the sliding Oliver Torres.

Firmino then extended their lead in the 26th minute when he calmly netted from a right-wing cross by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Here we rate the Liverpool performances on Tuesday night.

LIVERPOOL 4-3-3

Alisson 7 – Excellent stop to deny a powerful low drive from Marega Marega in the first half. Trademark quick distribution. Confident and cool whenever called upon.

Trent Alexander-Arnold 7 – Struggled against Southampton last time out but a much better performance on Tuesday. Laid on Liverpool’s second for his eighth assist of the season, remarkable production for a right-back.

Virgil van Dijk 7 – There’s a graceful glide in the way Lionel Messi maneuvers his way past players and it’s in that ilk, Van Dijk finesses the ball away from attackers. Poised performance as always from the Dutchman.

Dejan Lovren 5 – There’s invariably a palpable sense of apprehension whenever Lovren is in the XI and that was justified on Tuesday. Liverpool are usually one of the best at utilising the offside trap but he was too slow. Maybe mitigated by the fact he hadn’t started for nearly three months?

James Milner 7 – Wonderful release to Mane in the build-up to the opener and he was excellent in attacking transitions. Closed down what little threat arrived down his left side with relative ease.

Fabinho 7 – Hard to believe this man is Brazilian because he loves a tackle. His defensive contribution freed Henderson and Keita to attack at will.

Naby Keita 7 – Hint of fortune with his deflected strike diverting past Casillas. Seems imbued with confidence after scoring his first for the club against Southampton. Produced a game-high total of eight tackles.

Jordan Henderson 8 – If you’re a Liverpool fan, how can you dislike this man? Absolutely superb on the right-hand side of their midfield. Far better suited to the role than operating deeper as evidenced by a super ball into the channel for Alexander-Arnold to set up Firmino.

Sadio Mane 6 – Disrupted Porto’s backline with his fast-twitch fakes and feints but lacked his usual penetration when in dangerous positions. Although, he was unlucky not to have scored after being adjudged marginally offside shortly after the break.

Roberto Firmino 8 – Graciously tapped in one and set up the other with a tidy lay off to Keita. Buzzed around the pitch tirelessly, held the ball up well and just knitted everything together really nicely.

Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita

Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita

Mohamed Salah 6 – Tip toed in threatening areas but wasn’t able to come to the dancefloor despite some good opportunities, particularly when latching onto a loose Porto ball in the first half.

SUBSTITUTES

Divock Origi 7 – Gave Liverpool a new dimension on the left side with his propensity to immediately go direct. Required better quality with his delivery, though.

Daniel Sturridge N/A – On late for Firmino and had little chance to make an impact.

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Liverpool 2-0 Porto: Talking points as Reds start to dream of historic double

Alam Khan 10/04/2019
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Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring Liverpool's second goal against Porto

Naby Keita’s second goal in successive games sent Liverpool on their way to a commanding 2-0 lead in their Champions League quarter-final with Porto.

Having overcome the same visitors 5-0 on aggregate last season in the last 16, it was another comfortable victory.

The Reds got the perfect start in the fifth minute when James Milner swung out a ball to Sadio Mane on the left.

He found Roberto Firmino in support and he teed up Keita – who scored at Southampton last Friday – for a shot which was deflected in by the sliding Oliver Torres.

Mohamed Salah should have added a second, driving a volley straight at Iker Casillas, before rolling a finish agonisingly wide.

It was Firmino who did extend the lead in the 26th minute when he calmly netted from a right-wing cross by Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Porto did press and their best opportunity saw Alisson block Moussa Marega’s shot.

DREAMING OF THE DOUBLE

Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita

Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita

While all the talk is of Manchester City’s pursuit of history and a potential quadruple, or quintuple if you count the Community Shield, it would be foolish to dismiss Liverpool’s strong claims for a dream double.

The Premier League title race is by no means over. City are two points behind with a game in hand, but have the tougher run-in and far greater pressure.

And, as they showed here in convincing fashion and taking a massive step into the Champions League semi finals, Jurgen Klopp’s men have the belief and bravado to win both competitions.

They also have the quality and squad depth to do it too.

Even the loss of the reliable Andrew Robertson, missing through suspension, made little difference against a Porto side lacking the same ruthless approach.

Up stepped James Milner to produce another steady display even if it was on his unfavoured left-hand side.

Then there was Dejan Lovren, who last started in the FA Cup loss at Wolves in January, but offered a physical presence on his return.

And Naby Keita displayed the sort of energised performance that prompted Liverpool to spend £52 million on him.

It has been a season where he has struggled and there were doubts, but the Guinea international is now coming to the fore at just the right time. He waited eight months for a goal, but now has two within a week.

But Keita hustled and bustled well in a midfield that was composed as well as committed with Fabinho and Jordan Henderson showing good support.

With Sunday’s crunch game with Chelsea to follow, this Reds side has shown a lot of guts in a tough campaign. Now it could finally be time for glory.

BOBBY DAZZLER

Roberto Firmino

Roberto Firmino

He may not have got the plaudits or acclaim afforded to Salah or Sadio Mane, but there is no doubting the value of Roberto Firmino.

With clever movement, deceptive pace, a deft touch and subtle finish, the Brazilian has the ability to bemuse any defence.

He scored one, starting the move himself, and assisted another and was a constant threat against the Portuguese visitors.

Firmino is an all-round striker in the mould of say Sergio Aguero in the way he can drift across the frontline, hold up play and drop into midfield to create when possession is lacking.

He may not possess Aguero’s predatory skills in the box, but Liverpool do not play in the same manner as City.

While much attention and focus is often on Salah and Mane, Firmino has taken advantage to become Liverpool’s silent assassin.

His creative contributions will be crucial in this run-in and beyond. He is a player still improving and becoming increasingly effective.

PREPARE FOR PORTO EXODUS

Eder Militao

Eder Militao

It says a lot for Porto when Eder Militao is heading for Real Madrid after just one season.

There is much excitement about the potential of the Brazilian centre-back, who cost the Spanish giants €50 million.

At 21, he will learn from nights like this as the Liverpool frontline caused him and his defensive team-mates all sorts of problems.

Militao’s departure is unlikely to be the last as Porto do not look good enough to ever go beyond this stage in Europe.

Their most talented individuals will want to test themselves higher and Moussa Marega should be on the radar of Premier League and Bundesliga clubs.

The striker came close to joining Ruud van Nistelrooy, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo in scoring in seven successive Champions League matches, denied only by a fine block from Alisson.

But with pace, power and some work, he could be a beast in a better side.

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp dismisses rumours linking him to Bayern Munich

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Jurgen Klopp insisted that he is completely focused on his job as Liverpool manager amid rumours linking him to Bayern Munich.

Franz Beckenbauer had recently shared his opinion on how the German would make an idea coach at Bayern.

Klopp dismissed these comments and emphasised the fact he is committed to his job as Liverpool boss.

“I have a contract at Liverpool until 2022. And nobody here has the feeling that we should cancel it,” he told Welt.

“Neither from the owners nor from my side there is even a tendency in this direction. So, nobody has to think about that.

“Franz just says such a sentence and, of course, he triggers very much with it. He didn’t ever care about that.”

The former Borussia Dortmund coach admitted that he has not thought about life after Liverpool but he does see himself at the Merseyside club for a long time.

“It’s long way until then,” he added. “In principle in football it’s like that – the opportunity and the timing have to be right.

“But I’m totally happy here and I don’t feel I’m any kind of finished at all. Our team has a good age structure, we can still work together for a long time.”

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