Thiago and Salah elegantly knock out Porto to maintain Liverpool’s perfect start

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Thiago and Salah elegantly knock out Porto to maintain Liverpool’s perfect start


Porto may not have recognized Liverpool’s entire roster, but the feeling of deflation against Jürgen Klopp’s side was all too familiar. Klopp rested the players, reinvigorated the players and was rewarded with a fifth straight win that saw Liverpool score the most points ever in a Champions League group stage. He couldn’t wish anymore.

Thiago Alcântara opened the scoring with an immaculate strike before Mohamed Salah signed up for the 17th time this season, and the sixth time in the Champions League, as Liverpool continued to do the odd job of a heavy group heavy Europeans.

Liverpool had secured the turning right with four straight wins in a supposedly complicated squad – their best start to the Champions League group stage – and Klopp duly transferred Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota on the substitutes bench. They were joined by Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson and James Milner, all recovering from injury, while Thiago, Takumi Minamino and Ibrahima Konaté enjoyed some well-deserved playing time ahead of the intense winter schedule. The most notable inclusion was Tyler Morton, Wallasey’s 19-year-old central midfielder who impressed Klopp in the pre-season, plus two Carabao Cup games, and secured his first start at Anfield four days after a first appearance. in the Premier League against Arsenal. One week.

The luxury of evaluating or using resources was not available to Sérgio Conceição. With a point separating his Porto side from Atlético Madrid at kick-off, and the Spanish champions visiting the Estádio do Dragão for the final match, their motivation surpassed Liverpool’s 5-1 home win in September. The visitors got off to a good start with the pace of Luis Díaz on the left and the creativity of Otávio on the right, allied to the air force of Mehdi Taremi, forcing a makeshift local defense to several errors.

Otávio staged the first opening of a low-key first half when he dispossessed Liverpool left-back Kostas Tsimikas and swept a dangerous cross over to Taremi’s header. The look of the Porto striker hit Joël Matip in the chest and passed an Alisson on the wrong foot but also next to the post.

This letting go was pale compared to Porto’s next opportunity. Liverpool were again caught trailing in possession of Otávio, this time Konaté in central midfielder, and Díaz left Neco Williams behind as he darted into the penalty area before s’ generously line up on teammate’s goal. Otávio only had to touch the goal but, under the pressure of Tsimikas’ challenge from behind, he stepped aside with his foot much to the disbelief of his teammates and the Porto bench. He spent the next few minutes riding in apparent agony while waiting for a VAR penalty decision that never came. His pain was more likely internal and self-inflicted.

Liverpool players flock to Thiago Alcântara after he unblocks the deadlock with a hoarse strike. Photographie : Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC/Getty Images

Porto lost veteran defender Pepe to injury shortly after Liverpool’s first real threat on goal, Konaté sending a free header from Minamino’s corner straight to Diogo Costa, and Klopp’s side’s threat gradually improved. as Salah and Sadio Mané entered the contest.

The hosts were helped by some temperamental clearance from Costa in the Porto goal. First, he hit a routine clearance in Mane’s chest and was pardoned when Salah’s shot from the rebound didn’t have the power to beat the exposed keeper. Minutes later he punched another clearance straight to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but Salah was offside when he was played flawlessly by the midfield pass.

Liverpool were denied the advantage by a tight offside when Thiago freed Mane by a generous gap in the Porto defense shortly before the break. Mané, making his 50th European appearance for Liverpool, had the time and space to beat Costa with a measured finish in the far corner. Officials allowed the goal, but the forward’s celebrations were ultimately marred by a VAR review.

Porto continued to threaten and undermine their good work with a bad final pass or a bad decision. Taremi only had Alisson to beat when played by Otávio’s smart ball, but chose not to face anyone in particular, allowing Morton to mop up the danger with a timely interception. Mateus Uribe shot narrowly on the corner after a free kick from Díaz wreaked havoc in Liverpool’s box while Otávio wasted a great opportunity to find Evanilson in front of an empty goal following a stray clearance from Alisson.

The breakthrough was worth the wait for some authentic quality moment and a welcome reminder of Thiago’s pedigree for his fourth start of the season alone. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s free kick from the right was cleared by Otávio and Thiago immediately sensed danger, moving and connecting smoothly to lead a 20-yard shot through Fábio Cardoso’s legs and down the corner.


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Liverpool doubled their advantage when Salah, rolling Porto left-back Zaidu Sanusi around with ease as he chased a long ball out of defense, trailed into Henderson’s path. The substitute returned the ball to Salah, who swept Uribe and beat Costa at the near post with an emphatic finish.

Another Liverpool replacement, Divock Origi, also had an immediate impact when he suffered a foul from Chancel Mbemba on the edge of the box. Referee Felix Zwayer indicated the penalty spot only for the VAR to judge the foul had occurred outside the area. Liverpool’s procession into the knockout stage continued regardless.

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