Sadio Mane scores, Fabinho bosses midfield as Liverpool smash Porto to reach UCL semis
PORTO, Portugal -- Liverpool comfortably booked their place in the semifinals after seeing off a spirited early onslaught by hosts Porto and then running away with it to win 4-1 for an aggregate score of 6-1. The win sets up a mouthwatering clash with Barcelona and a reunion with former stars Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho.
A clean sheet would have been nice, but ultimately it's not important.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- With a 2-0 first-leg lead and his side in the thick of a title race, Jurgen Klopp might have been tempted to rotate. Instead, he limited himself to one change up front as well as the customary couple in midfield. The impact of his substitutes was particularly impressive, with Firmino finding the net, Jordan Henderson claiming an assist and Joe Gomez looking strong on his long awaited comeback.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Alisson, 7 -- Made a couple of fairly routine saves but was rarely tested.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 8 -- Mature display capped by a fantastic pass to send Salah clear for the second goal. That was his last involvement as he made way for the returning Gomez seconds later.
DF Joel Matip, 8 -- Another strong showing from the Cameroon man, who will need to stay on top of his game with fit-again Gomez pushing hard for a recall.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- Competed well against the lively Jesus Corona and provided a good outlet on the left, not least when he helped create the crucial opening goal. Replaced with 20 minutes to go as Klopp chose to give him a well-earned rest.
MF Fabinho, 8 -- It's in games such as this when the benefit of having a dominant midfield destroyer such as the Brazilian is most obvious. When Liverpool were under pressure, it was usually Fabinho getting his foot in and breaking up the play. Passed the ball excellently too.
MF James Milner, 7 -- Worked hard defensively and came into the game more as an attacking force in the second half after the Reds had taken the sting out of Porto.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 7 -- Diligent without the ball and efficient with it. Not his most eye-catching performance but did the job that was needed.
FW Divock Origi, 6 -- Given a rare start and initially lined up on the left wing before switching to centre-forward. Didn't make much impact in either role, although in fairness Liverpool were mostly on the back foot in the first half. By the time they got on top, Origi had made way for Firmino.
FW Sadio Mane, 9 -- Once again came up with the vital opening goal and was a menace throughout. Should have had a second after a terrific burst through the centre but just couldn't get his foot around the ball and it flew wide.
FW Mohamed Salah, 7 -- Kept relatively quiet in the first half but it was from his mis-hit shot that Mane was able to open the scoring. Bagged the second goal himself with a cool finish and looked dangerous when the game opened up and he had room to play in.
FW Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Replaced Origi at half-time and wasted no time making an impact. Involved in everything and it was his terrific work from the left-back position that led to the second goal. Deservedly got on the scoresheet himself when he headed in a Henderson cross.
MF Jordan Henderson, 8 -- Continued his recent terrific form with a brilliant performance off the bench. His first contribution was an inch-perfect through ball to Mane that should have led to a goal. He then produced a great cross for Firmino's goal and seemed to be popping up everywhere. He's enjoying himself at the moment with a goal and four assists in his last six appearances.
DF Joe Gomez, 7 -- Assured performance after replacing Alexander-Arnold at right-back. Played his part in the third goal by winning the ball and finding Henderson, before making an overlapping run to create space. Great to see him back fit.