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Porto 0, Liverpool 5: First Thoughts

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Five away goals, a clean sheet, and a hat trick for Mane. What more could you want?

FC Porto v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

FC Porto 0:
Liverpool FC 5: Mane 25’ 53’ 85’, Salah 29’, Firmino 70’

  • Pre-match Thought: We’re back, baby! In the knock-out rounds of the Champions League, and looking to make a splash with a legitimately terrifying front three. And a legitimately terrifying back 4, for wholly different reasons. Speaking of, Dejan Lovren comes in for Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s center back partner. In the midfield, Emre Can is out from suspension, leaving Jordan Henderson, James Milner, and Georginio Wijnaldum to control the center of the park. And Liverpool are apparently running out in their Orange kits.
  • Close! Porto create the first big chance of the match, as a last-ditch attempted block by Lovren creates a wicked deflection, wrong-footing Loris Karius, and Liverpool are lucky to watch the ball creep over the top of the crossbar.
  • It’s a tense opening 15 minutes, with neither side getting much joy from attacking. When Porto get forward, the appear to be targeting Trent Alexander-Arnold. Let’s hope the youngster continues to be up to the challenge. Liverpool have tried several long diagonal passes, but poor touches and decision-making have let them down so far.
  • Close! Liverpool finally threaten after 20 mintues, after Salah is played into the box with acres of space from a gegenpressing situation. Bafflingly, the Egyptian decided to attempt to square it to Sadio Mane, when the better option appeared to be to take on the shot himself.
  • GOAL! Liverpool have themselves the scrappiest of away goals! Gini drives into the box, takes on the shot, and the blocked effort falls to Mane. The Senegalese international fires a shot toward the far post, and the keeper’s attempted save was not quite up to muster, and the partially-blocked shot creeped over the line.
  • GOAL!! Liverpool double their lead! Porto claimed a foul, but there was no whistle and James Milner played on. He drove into the box, fired a shot that beat the keeper, but not the woodwork. However, the rebound fell to Mohamed Salah, who decided to play a little keepie-uppie before putting the ball in the back of the net.
  • Halftime Thought: Excellent first half, although this could easily be on level terms if Porto took their chances better. That said, the home side are struggling to handle Klopp’s press, as both goals and several other close calls came from counter-pressing situations.
  • GOAL!!! Another devastating counterattack ends with yet another Liverpool goal. Roberto Firmino sets Salah off and running with some excellent hold-up play, and then Salah picks out Firmino with an inch-perfect through ball. Firmino’s first-time left-footed effort is parried away, but only as far as Mane, who is perfectly positioned to fire home the rebound.
  • GOAL! Mane starts the move in the middle of the pitch, surviving a mauling before playing the ball on. The ref does well to play advantage, and eventually Milner is picked out with a great run into the box. The experienced midfielder squares the ball for Firmino, who fires it home.
  • Jurgen Klopp makes his first change, bringing off Captain Jordan Henderson for Joel Matip, changing up the formation to a 3-4-3. Sure, why not?
  • And two more subs, Joe Gomez coming on for Alexander-Arnold, and Danny Ings on for Bobby Firmino.
  • GOAL! Mane gets his well-deserved hat trick! Sadio unleashes a venomous low shot from outside the box, beating the keeper on his far post.
  • Final Whistle Thought: Porto were able to cause Liverpool a bit of bother in the first half, but the Orange clad Reds were too much for the Portuguese side tonight. A Champions League hat trick for Mane should help boost the winger’s confidence, and Salah also got his customary goal. Most importantly, it looks like Liverpool can already start making plans to take part in the quarterfinals.

We’ll be back shortly to take an in-depth look at everything that happened in today’s game with the full recap. Until then, let us know your take on the ups and downs of the match in the comments, and if you haven’t already, join the community on the Liverpool Offside, where we’ll have full coverage and lively in-game discussion for every match this season.