Liverpool were outstanding, to say the least as they thrashed FC Porto 5-0 in the opening leg of their Champions League last-16 clash. The Fabulous front three were splendid in the attack as they combined spectacularly to plunder 5 goals against a hapless Portuguese side who looked out of sorts in the encounter. Jurgen Klopp was a happy man after his side’s thumping victory at the Estádio do Dragão as they would now return to Anfield on an away advantage of a staggering 5 goals. Unlike the usual Liverpool side who would concede in the dying moments of the game, Klopp’s men maintained their poise at the back and ensured Porto had no consolation to take home.
A positive Klopp showered praises on the attacking duo of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane as Liverpool ran comfortable winners. The Senegalese marked his return on the elite European stage with three superb goals, his hat-trick put Liverpool in pole position and there was no seeing back from there. The front three fired heavily with Roberto Firmino also registering his name on the scoring sheet for his rampant side. The Egyptian magician Salah became the second fastest in the club’s history to reach 30 goals across competitions. He took 36 games to ace the feat, second to only the legendary George Allan who did it in fewer games.
Meanwhile, Mane who has been facing up and downs this season swung back to show what he brings to the table for Liverpool. He was splendid with his pace and ball control as he continued to toy around the Porto defenders who became a mute witness to the 25-year-old’s breathtaking skills. He opened the scoring in the 25th minute and struck his second in the 53rd minute to put Liverpool on a 3 goal advantage before completing the rout with an 85th-minute strike. “Finally you are back,” is what Klopp told Mane after the game as per Sky Sports.
“Tonight he showed again what a fantastic player he is. He was always important, he was always fantastic for us, even in his not-that-good moments. That’s a real quality if you are not 100 percent and still scoring, maybe not that often but involved in goals then that’s really important,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“Then they will come if you keep on working really hard like he did then there can be a moment like this. The first one was a little bit lucky, but then the other two were being in the right place, the second one, and using your fantastic skills for the last one. Good, really good, and I am happy about it,” he added.
Salah was once again at his lethal best as he netted his 30th goal of the season for his side. James Milner stuck the post and Salah was quick to catch the rebound and dispatch it past the Porto keeper after controlling the ball in three touches with his head, body and foot. Liverpool’s front three showed glimpses of what they can do on their day and sent a warning to their European opponents. Hoping that the sensational Egypt attacker keeps the goal coming for his side, Klopp said he doesn’t want him to stop as yet.
“We spoke about Mo in the last few weeks, completely deserved, but obviously Sadio had his comeback tonight, very good, and Roberto (Firmino) was there again after outstanding work rate again. It was good. Ox [Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain] obviously as well. Congratulations but hopefully he (Salah) will not stop,” said the Liverpool boss.
The emphatic victory and an astounding away advantage mean Liverpool will be expecting an easy outing at the Anfield in the returning fixture. When Klopp’s men host Porto at the Anfield on March 6, there can be changes in the squad keeping the Manchester United fixture in mind. But for the Liverpool manager, the game is far from over and he is not ruling out Porto as early.
“No of course not, why should I? We came here to create the basis for the second leg at Anfield – and that’s what we did, not more, not less,” said Klopp when asked if Liverpool will take it easy at the Anfield in the second leg.
“As I said a few times, I am too long in the business to think anything is sorted before the final whistle. We owe our supporters at Anfield a 100 percent performance and that’s what we want to deliver. That’s all,” he added.