10th April, 2019
Liverpool kept their hopes of a double alive as they defeated Porto with a comfortable 2-0 win courtesy goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final match.
Porto had come to the Merseyside with revenge on the mind after being dumped out by Jurgen Klopp’s side in the last 16 of last year’s competition but a disappointing first-half performance has given them an almighty task in next week’s return fixture at the Estadio do Dragao.
It was Keita’s second goal in less than a week that got Liverpool up and running after just five minutes before Firmino added a simple second in the 26th minute.
The Reds did most of the attacking in the second half with Sadio Mane coming closest from long range but they were unable to find a third that would have all but ended the tie as a contest.
Liverpool had started the game a in typically pulsating fashion, powering into an early lead when Keita’s low effort from 15 yards was heavily deflected past Iker Casillas by the flailing Oliver Torres.
They then lost a good chance to score when Mohamed Salah then clipped past Casillas’ left-hand post when it looked easier to score after 22 minutes.
It was however a different scenario four minutes later, however, when Firmino tapped into an empty net from five yards after he had been picked out by Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross.
Porto’s Moussa Marega could have pulled one back for the visitors shortly after the half-hour mark but his low effort was kept out by the left foot of Alisson.
Another chance went begging when Mane – whose earlier volley had been ruled out for offside – curled narrowly past Casillas’ left-hand post from the edge of the penalty area 20 minutes from time.
Liverpool escaped going man down as Salah was lucky not to be shown a red card for an ugly challenge on Danilo Pereira in the closing stages as Porto – who again came close through Marega – ultimately fell short of finding an away goal that would have changed the complexion of next week’s second leg.
As things stand, any thoughts that Liverpool’s quest for a first Premier League title in 29 years would derail their Champions League campaign have been dispelled by a consummate first-leg performance.
They never looked back after Keita’s early strike and will be confident of finishing the job in Portugal next week. Porto, meanwhile, lacked quality in the final third and will consider themselves lucky to still be in with a chance of progressing to the last four.
It has been a stop-start first season for the Guinea international, but it looks like he is finding his feet at just the right time. He scored his first goal for the club in Friday’s Premier League win over Southampton and opened his European account for Klopp’s side in what was an all-action display.