Did you hear that? That was the sound of Liverpool FC re-announcing themselves amongst the European elite.
Making their first appearance in the Champions League knockout rounds since 2009, Liverpool defeated a normally resilient Porto FC team 5-0 in Porto on Wednesday night. Sadio Mané’s hat trick was punctuated by goals from Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as the Reds ran riot in Portugal.
Loris Karius – 6.5
Unhurried and unbothered, Karius made a couple of routine saves and continued his good start as Liverpool’s official number one goalkeeper.
Trent ALexander-Arnold – 6.5
The young Scouser was tasked with marking the dangerous Brahimi down the flank in the first half, but grew more comfortable as the game wore on and Porto assumed a more defensive shape. Was excellent in 1v1 situations. Was withdrawn for his compatriot, Joe Gomez, in the 79th minute.
Dejan Lovren – 7
Made a goal-saving tackle in the ninth minute when the score was still level and looked composed throughout the match.
Virgil Van Dijk – 6.5
Struggled to settle early in the first half, making several rash clearances and passes. Once Liverpool began to exert themselves on the match, van Dijk showed his class, mopping up behind the midfielders and playing several great passes into the channels.
Andrew Robertson – 7
Robertson had comparatively little to do defensively compared to his right-sided counterpart, Trent Alexander-Arnold. The Scot did not rest on his laurels, though, instead focusing his energy on supporting the attacking trio and whipped in many excellent crosses throughout the evening.
Jordan Henderson – 7
Liverpool’s captain continued his comeback from injury with a start against the Portuguese league-leaders. He was metronomic with his passes; nothing fancy, but kept the game ticking over effectively. Was withdrawn for Joël Matip on 75 minutes.
James Milner – 8
Fairly anonymous in the first half, but turned back the clock for one mazy run which ended in a shot off the post that led to Mo Salah doubling the lead midway through the first half. Produced an excellent assist for Roberto Firmino midway through the second half. Rode his luck with a few wild challenges that really should have resulted in a caution from the referee, but that bulldog approach was the catalyst for many of Liverpool’s counterattacks.
Georginio Wijnaldum – 7
Easily the best of the midfield three in the first half. The Dutchman charged through the Porto defense in the 25th minute and, following a blocked shot, encouraged Sadio Mané to sweep up the rebound and score the game’s opening goal. Wijnaldum was quieter in the second half, as the emphasis shifted to controlling the match, rather than pressurizing the opposition.
Sadio Mané – 9
Hat-trick hero! He scored the opening goal in the 25th minute following some good work from the rampaging Wijnaldum, slotting under the Porto goalkeeper, Sá. His second came from a devastating counterattack in the 53rd minute following a miss from Roberto Firmino. the stunning line-drive into the corner from outside the box for his third typified the Senegalese winger’s performance.
Roberto Firmino – 8.5
The Brazilian was at his usual hardworking self against a determined, defensively set-up Porto team. One could be forgiven for losing count of the headers he won and the times he pressed lost causes. His saved shot led to Sadio Mané’s second goal of the game and he scored the fourth goal of the game following an assist from James Milnerinho. That goal was to be his last real contribution before being withdrawn in the 80th minute for Danny Ings.
Mohamed Salah – 8
Does he ever stop delivering? The mercurial Egyptian was kept fairly quiet in the opening exchanges but kept his cool after James Milner’s curled shot cannoned off the post, juggling the ball under control before volleying home from close range to score the second goal of the game. Ran half the length of the pitch in the build-up to Mané’s second goal.
Joel Matip (75′) – Matip’s introduction resulted in a formational shift to a back three, in which the Cameroonian international was untroubled as the right-sided centre-back.
Joe Gomez (79′) – Did not contribute anything of note.
Danny Ings (80′) – Did not contribute anything of note.