Liverpool maintained their 100% winning record in this season’s Champions League after beating Porto 2-0 at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s men secured their passage to the last 16 as group winners on matchday four and so the German was able to make several changes to his starting XI for this one, and they were made to work for their victory.
The hosts nearly fell behind early on when Otavio robbed Kostas Tsimikas of the ball and crossed for Mehdi Taremi, but his header deflected off Joel Matip and just the wrong side of Alisson’s post.
Porto really were looking like the side with something to play for as Evanilson ghosted past Ibrahima Konate to put himself through with Alisson, but the Frenchman recovered just in time to win possession back.
The Reds continued to gift clear cut chances to their visitors as Konate was again caught out and given the burners by Luis Diaz, though somehow Otavio put it wide of the empty net gaping in front of him.
Liverpool had plenty of joy profiting from mistakes by goalkeeper Diogo Costa in the reverse fixture, and Porto were lucky to be level when their stopper booted the ball square into Sadio Mane’s face and Mohamed Salah was unable to convert once the ball fell to him.
Costa’s errors were proving to be the Reds’ best route to goal in the first half, this time clearing straight into the path of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and teeing up Salah, and while he was felled dribbling into the penalty area, he was already deemed to have been offside.
Klopp’s men thought they had taken the lead ten minutes before the break when Thiago played a simple ball between the Porto defenders for Mane to run onto and he placed it past Costa with ease. But the Senegal forward had strayed marginally offside and the goal was chalked off.
Porto again carved Liverpool open with Otavio slipping through Taremi, who for some reason attempted to cut the ball back when the shot looked the more obvious option and Tyler Morton was able to clear.
The Portuguese side continued their dominance after half time as Mateus Uribe fired wide from close range after a free-kick pinged around the penalty area, but Liverpool took the lead against the run of play down the other end. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s poor cross fell to Thiago Alcantara and he beautifully stroked it home from 25 yards.
That strike kicked Liverpool into gear, with Oxlade-Chamberlain nearly grabbing a goal of his own on the stretch after a quick counter attack, but his effort proved to be harmless. Takumi Minamino had the ball in the net after a neat Reds move saw the ball ricochet to him but the offside flag was up.
Liverpool were rewarded for their renewed attacking endeavour with a second after 70 minutes. Morton’s long ball forward found Salah, who finished at Costa’s near post after some neat interplay with Jordan Henderson.
Former Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba brought down Divock Origi and the referee pointed to the penalty spot, though VAR overturned the decision when replays showed contact was made outside the box. Henderson’s resulting effort went under the ball and into the side netting.
Porto battled to get back into the game but couldn’t keep their cool and Liverpool held on to earn their fifth successive Champions League win.
Alisson (GK) – 6/10 – Fluffed his lines a couple of times but generally stood tall.
Neco Williams (RB) – 6/10 – Probably Liverpool’s strongest defender, which wasn’t a high bar to clear.
Ibrahima Konate (CB) – 2/10 – You wouldn’t believe this guy pocketed Cristiano Ronaldo so easily only a month ago. Beaten far too easily on so many occasions.
Joel Matip (CB) – 2/10 – Had no clue how to hold the offside line and his ineptitude would have cost Liverpool several times over on another day.
Kostas Tsimikas (LB) – 2/10 – After such a good run in the side, Tsimikas let himself down with such a terrible performance. Couldn’t be described as a ‘no nonsense defender’ because he just loved causing nonsense.
Tyler Morton (DM) – 7/10 – Didn’t look out of place and had to be on hand to help out the shambles of a defence sitting behind him.
Thiago Alcantara (CM) – 8/10 – One of his best games in a Liverpool shirt, controlling the Reds when in possession and capping off a great night with a superb goal.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (CM) – 7/10 – Showed slightly more flashes of brilliance than flashes of incompetence. A real Jekyll and Hyde game.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – 7/10 – Looked dangerous when on the ball but you could tell he wasn’t playing as if the stakes were high for Liverpool.
Takumi Minamino (CF) – 4/10 – Just so obviously not good enough to play for the club.
Sadio Mane (LW) – 6/10 – Unlike Salah actually put in a real shift but just couldn’t produce anything of use.
Jordan Henderson (CM, 63′, for Thiago) – 7/10 – Calmed things down in midfield and earned an assist for his troubles.
Andy Robertson (LB, 63′, for Tsimikas) – 6/10 – Wasn’t a calamity, immediately making him. better option than Tsimikas.
Fabinho (DM, 71′ for Salah) – 5/10
Divock Origi (CF, 71′ for Mane) – 6/10
James Milner (CM, 82′ for Oxlade-Chamberlain) – N/A