Liverpool FC 2 - 0 FC Porto
Liverpool: Thiago 52’, Salah 70’
Liverpool have won the first four Champions League Group Stage matches, and the rest of the group have conspired to ensure that the Reds will be top of the group no matter what happens. Of course we want to win all the matches. But just think of the LOLZ if we take the night off and Atletico Madrid get eliminated from Europe.
Klopp went with a fairly strong line-up, though not one without changes or surprises! The biggest surprise is Tyler Morton getting his Champions League debut, alongside Thiago and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the center of the park. Sorry, Harvey Elliott, but there’s a new teenage sensation at Anfield. Further back we have Neco Williams coming in for Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Ibrahima Konaté coming in for Virgil van Dijk. And finally, Takumi Minamino gets a deserved start, with Diogo Jota on the bench. Also worth note: Captain Alisson Becker!
Porto start brightly, keeping Liverpool pinned back near the edge of the box for the opening few minutes. The makeshift side, understandably, looks a bit out of sorts, but they manage to ride out the early pressure without giving away any chance of note.
The visitors nearly score the opener after Tsimikas gets caught out in possession. Porto whip in a cross, picking out an attacker, who heads it onto Joel Matip’s arm at close range, and the ricochet thankfully goes just wide. A few minutes later, Porto create a 2 v 1 break on goal, but put the shot just wide (thanks, in part, to an iffy last-ditch challenge from Tsimikas). These Reds are living dangerously.
Pepe goes off injured about halfway through the half. If you’re thinking that this might be the last time Anfield ever “welcomes” him, well:
Don't worry, Pepe will come back with Porto when they visit in 2025, and we'll hate him then too.— Zachary A Marx (@80couches) November 24, 2021
Liverpool haven’t created much of note this half, and when they finally create a clear cut chance, Sadio Mané is just offside. Unlucky, but the Reds have looked dangerous in patches tonight, especially on the counter, and have just lacked the final ball.
The Reds go into the intermission both lucky to not be down a goal and also unlucky not to be in the lead. The ball is round, etc. Both Mohamed Salah and Mané have nearly gotten in behind on several occasions. It has been far from a classic European Night at Anfield so far, and the occasion means that is unlikely to change. However, there’s definitely a winner out there tonight, if the Reds can put together a moment of brilliance or two.
Let’s check in on what’s happening in the other group game...
Meanwhile, with both sides needing a win… pic.twitter.com/VdfoKNfhEi— Zachary A Marx (@80couches) November 24, 2021
GOAL! OK, there was the out-of-the-blue, against-the-run-of-play goal that Mané’s should have been. Ox sent in a free kick from a wide area, but it was cut out by a Porto defender. But don’t worry, Thiago can just score a screamer from about 30 yards. Holy shit, what a strike. You won’t see them hit more cleanly than that.
With an hour gone Kloppo brings off (wonder) goalscorer Thiago for Jordan Henderson, and Kostas Tsimikas for Andy Robertson.
GOAL!! Mo has been relatively quiet tonight. But he’s shown throughout his Liverpool career, and especially this season, that he only needs a moment to create some magic. Mo and Hendo played a brilliant 1-2, then Mo sent a defender the wrong way and beat the keeper to the near post.
And that goal was Mo’s last touch of the match! Fabinho comes on in his place, and Sadio gets replaced by Divock Origi.
And Origi immediately goes on a crazy run, beating multiple defenders, then wildly misses out on a teammate with an attempted pass, and then nearly wins a penalty (it was just outside of the area). So. Perfect start for the enigma that is Divock Origi. It’s his game now, we’re merely here to witness his brilliance. Not like Thiago’s brilliance. Or Salah’s. But brilliance nonetheless.
Klopp makes his final sub, bringing on James Milner for Ox with about 10 minutes to go. I reckon that’s ample time for Milly to pick up his customary yellow for a tactical foul.
And yep, Milly picks up a yellow for the wonderfully shithouse act of not allowing an opponent to quickly take a free kick.
Final Thoughts and Man of the Match
Liverpool have now outscored Porto 18-2 in the six Champions League matches under Klopp. Tonight was far from the most impressive performance against the Portuguese side, but it was a great performance under the circumstances.
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid have lost against AC Milan. Lovely.
Who was Liverpool’s Man of the Match against Porto?
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