Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy

, Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy, The Evepost BBC News
  • Liverpool cruise to victory and a 16th successive win by two goals or more
  • Porto squander two great first-half chances
  • Reds have opportunity to become first English side to qualify with 18 points
  • Milan’s victory over Atletico leaves second place wide open on Dec 7

What a luxury for Liverpool that they can now indulge in Champions League warm-up games while planning ahead for the round of 16.

That’s the fairest summing up of their final matches of a group which was initially deemed of ‘death’, yet is ending in such comfort Jürgen Klopp’s side are swatting opposition aside in second gear.

Porto had everything to play for at Anfield, Liverpool effectively nothing.  The Portuguese side still failed to land a meaningful punch as second half goals from Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah reaffirmed the Merseysiders’ superiority as group winners. The scorers were subbed immediately after their celebrations, Klopp able to win in Europe with an eye firmly on the Premier League weekend.

This was not a virtuoso European performance from Klopp’s team. It never had to be. There was still enough to demonstrate why they are serious challengers to add to their tally as six-time winners, especially in a dominant second half when Porto’s defence wilted in front of the Kop.

A conspiratorial Liverpool coach might have examined the group table, recalled Atletico Madrid’s conduct during recent fixtures, and considered Europe would not mourn a round of sixteen bereft of Diego Simeone’s war-mongers.

, Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy, The Evepost BBC News

Sadio Mane puts the ball into the Porto net but the goal was scrubbed off by VAR for an offside offence

Credit:
Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

Standing firm against such cynicism, Klopp said from the outset he was not going to grant favours to Porto, even if they were Atletico’s rivals for a qualifying place. Favourable though their circumstances, Porto would have to show they deserved to stay in contention to qualify. With respect, if they could not take advantage, they were not worthy.

True, circumstances meant Klopp could not make wholesale changes.  A shortage of strikers kept Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane in the starting line-up, and lack of midfield options ensured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago kept their place from the 4-0 win over Arsenal. But there were still more than enough tweaks to encourage the opposition.

Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold made for a VIP bench, while teenager Tyler Morton’s and full-back Neco Williams’ inclusion proved Klopp was willing to make compromises.

The general intensity level in a lacklustre first half was the true demonstration of Liverpool’s approach.

Liverpool’s initial pace and demeanour put one more in mind of a pre-season warm-up than high octane European night.

They were playing in that gear which assured intuitive spectators there was more to come if the desire and necessity was there. With top spot already guaranteed, there was no guarantee it ever would be.

Porto had opportunities to punish several early errors, the most glaring of which was Ibrahima Konate’s 12 minutes in. The centre-back, deputising for Van Dijk, was slack on the halfway line, allowing Luis Diaz to break clear and feed Otavio for what should have been a tap-in.

Otavio sliced wide and tried to save embarrassment by claiming he was fouled by Kostas Tsimikas’ recovery challenge. There was no impediment to what should have been the opening goal.

Mehdi Teremi was later culpable when one-on-one with Alisson, electing to pass rather than shoot, much to the disgust of his manager Sergio Conceicao, who must have sensed how ambivalent the home side appeared to be at that stage about the outcome.

, Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy, The Evepost BBC News

Otavio squanders a golden opportunity

Credit:
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Porto still looked nervous when attacked. Salah could find space at will on the right, but too rarely did he receive an accurate pass. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Williams were an inch from delivering one in the opening minutes. Most of the Liverpool moves in the first half fizzled out with over-hit or under-hit deliveries, or the occasional hint of unwillingness from those in the attacking third to put themselves in too much danger if a centre-back was showing more intent to clear the ball.

Mane did beat keeper Diogo Costa after the best constructed move of the opening 45 minutes, Thiago playing a gorgeous pass to dissect the Porto defence, but the video assistant referee confirmed the narrowest of offside calls.   

Even the capacity crowd did not seem overly fussed, receiving the bad news with a groan rather than throaty uproar. With no jeopardy beyond the £2.3 million winnings for every group game win, it appeared destined to be that sort of night.

Then salvation came from the majestic boot of Thiago, who struck the kind of goal which would have blessed the latter stages of the competition.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s free-kick was headed clear, and from 30 yards the Spain midfielder struck low to Costa’s right.

They would have heard the appreciative cheers in Portugal if this was a game of any consequence to Liverpool.

Salah added the second on 70 minutes, cutting inside to put Matheus Uribe on his backside, and leave Porto in a final matchday shoot-out with Atletico and Milan. 

On this evidence, Simeone’s side may still find their way through. On current European form, Liverpool will not care who they meet next.

 


As it happened

9:53PM

Full time LIV 2 POR 0

Liverpool took their chances, Porto didn’t. Some very tidy performances from Morton, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago in midfield and they were reprieved by woeful finishing when they had a few scares once their full-backs were exposed. Porto’s Lucas Diaz and Otavio, despite that glaring miss, look terrific talents but Liverpool even with only five first choice players in the XI, were simply too good for them.  

9:50PM

90+1 min LIV 2 POR 0                                              

The first of three minutes of stoppage time begins with Milner walloping a low left-foot shot that Diogo Costa deals with in relative comfort low to his right. 

9:50PM

90 min LIV 2 POR 0                                             

Porto free-kick on the left, parallel with the 18-yard line and Vitinha can’t beat the first line of defensive sentries. Dreadful. Utter garbage. 

9:47PM

88 min LIV 2 POR 0                                            

Origi attacks down the left of the box but is seen off by Joao Maria. With Milan beating Atletico, Porto will remain in second if it stays that way with it all to play for on December 7.

Milner is booked for timewasting and will miss the trip to San Siro now.  

9:45PM

85 min LIV 2 POR 0                                           

Conceicao Jnr has gone down holding his right ankle after a forceful collision with Milner. “They go to ground all the time,” says Steve McManaman as if nothing like that goes on here. 

9:43PM

83 min LIV 2 POR 0                                          

Vitinha has hurt his right knee and has gone off for treatment. They have made all their subs.  

9:41PM

82 min LIV 2 POR 0                                         

It’s Milner for Oxlade-Chamberlain who is getting better by the game, I think.

9:40PM

80 min LIV 2 POR 0                                        

Port look fed up. They had their chance and two golden goalscoring opportunities but flunked it. James Milner, ‘Milly’ to Liverpool fans, forever ‘Spoggy’ to certain Leeds fans, is about to come on.  

9:37PM

78 min LIV 2 POR 0                                       

Toni Martinez replaces Evanilson and Marko Grujic come son for Uribe. Fabinho has also come on for Mane. 

9:36PM

76 min LIV 2 POR 0                                      

Henderson lines up the free-kick from 19 yards. He exhales then drags it wide. He guessed the wall would jump and out it beneath them but screwed it a good two yards to the left of the left post. 

9:34PM

74 min LIV 2 POR 0                                     

Origi, who has replaced Salah, is awarded a penalty for a trip by Mbemba but it was a long way out of the box and VAR overrules him. 

9:33PM

73 min LIV 2 POR 0                                    

Liverpool ahve now scored two or more in 16 successive matches, the first English club to do so since Wolves in 1938-39. 

9:32PM

71 min LIV 2 POR 0                                   

Long ball from left to right from Konate I think, Salah takes it down the wing after a mistake from Zaidu, backheels it to Henderson who plays a reverse pass with his instep for Salah to take into the box. He shimmies to the left, Uribe slides in and misses ball and man completely, allowing Salah a free path to goal and he pings a left-foot shot into the bottom right corner. 

9:29PM

GOOOAL!!

Liverpool 2 Porto 0 (Salah) It’s that man again. 

9:28PM

67 min LIV 1 POR 0                                  

Ian Darke reminds us of the tine when Brendan Rodgers tried to swap Jordan Henderson for Clint Dempsey. He also bought Fabio Borini, lest we forget.  

9:25PM

65 min LIV 1 POR 0                                 

Neat start from Robertson who plays a one-two with Minamino and gets round the back to almost tee up Mane but his cross is blocked and Mane shanks a shot from the corner with the outside of his left boot out for a goalkick. Klopp, on his feet, grimaces and gurns before flashing his million dollar smile with those massive, pearly clackers. 

9:23PM

63 min LIV 1 POR 0                                

Porto send on Francisco Conceicao and Vitinha for Sergio Oliveira and the profligate Mehdi Teremi. 

9:22PM

61 min LIV 1 POR 0                               

Minamino sticks the ball in the back of the net with a volley from 15 yards but was miles offside.

Liverpool make two substitutions: Henderson for Thiago, Robertson for Tsimikas. 

9:20PM

59 min LIV 1 POR 0                              

Alisson does a Diogo Costa with what should have been an unflustered clearance which he kicks straight at Otavio to the right of the box. He has Teremi free in the middle but he snatches at a simple square pass and hooks it beyond him. Terrible football all round.  

, Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy, The Evepost BBC News

Thiago thunders in Liverpool’s opener

Credit:
Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington

9:17PM

57 min LIV 1 POR 0                             

Diaz with the dazzling feet is played down the inside left channel, shoots across goal and Alisson makes a fine save that won’t count as he was flagged offside even though VAR, had it gone in, would have had to check because he looked marginally on. 

9:14PM

55 min LIV 1 POR 0                            

Allez x 3, naturally, resounds around Anfield. 

9:13PM

54 min LIV 1 POR 0                           

Oxlade-Chamberlain is tripped on the right and takes the free-kick himself but can’t beat the first line of defenders. It’s headed out to the inside-left channel 25 yards out and Thiago meets it with a thunderous half-volley that stays about three inches above the ground all the way until it billows into the bottom right corner. Have you ever seen a more sweetly struck half-volley? 

9:11PM

GOOOOOAL!

And what a goal it was: Liverpool 1 Porto 0 (Thiago)

9:09PM

50 min LIV 0 POR 0                          

Otavio fizzes in a Barnes-Wallis cross into the six-yard box that Alisson slaps away only as gar as Cardoso 15 yards out and he spins, falls and lays it off to Uribe who sweeps a right-foot shot maybe a foot wide of the left post. 

9:07PM

49 min LIV 0 POR 0                         

Joao Mario beats Tsimikas and hares towards the corner flag. Konate trips him to stop him getting a cross in. Free-kick.  

9:07PM

47 min LIV 0 POR 0                        

Teremi is handed another exceptional chance having peeled off to the back post to jump against Neco Williams when JoaoMario fizzes in a  cross from the right. But he bludgeons it nearer to the corner flag than the left post. 

9:05PM

46 min LIV 0 POR 0                       

Porto made Liverpool wait a couple of minutes on the field before emerging for the second half. No changes as yet (beyond Cardoso for Pepe). 

8:48PM

Half-time LIV 0 POR 0

Two great chances for Porto spurned by Otavio and Teremi but Liverpool look very dangerous on the break. Luis Diaz will get a £30m move at the end of the season on this showing. 

8:47PM

45 min LIV 0 POR 0                      

Liverpool corner after good play between Salah and Mane leads to Mane shootong with his left from the right of the box and watching it balloon over via a Porto leg. 

, Thiago stunner stresses Liverpool’s class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy, The Evepost BBC News

Liverpool opt for the near-post corner and Porto defend it. 

8:45PM

43 min LIV 0 POR 0                     

After you, Claud. Otavio spins a pass down the right into the box for Teremi who squares it instead of trying to chip it over a diving Alisson. There was no one to receive his blind pass and was nothing less of a dereliction of duty by the Iran No9. Have a dig for goodness sake. Jings, Crivens and Help ma boab. 

8:42PM

41 min LIV 0 POR 0                    

Neco Williams crosses after Zaidu tackles Salah and sticks it on Minamino’s head but he didn’t finish it and was offside in any case. 

8:40PM

39 min LIV 0 POR 0                   

Very tight but a toe offside when Oxlade-Chamberlain caught Mbemba dawdling with a slotted pass down the inside-left, Mane took it wide, cut in and swept it in at the far post across Diogo Costa who gave up once he saw Mane closing in on him either in certainty about the offside or fatalism about Mane’s finish. 

8:39PM

NO GOOOOAL!

Offside and ruled out by VAR. 

8:38PM

GOOOAL!

Liverpool 1 Porto 0 (Mane)

8:38PM

37 min LIV 0 POR 0                  

Matip takes his turn in thwarting the slippery Luis Diaz found by a 60-yard diagonal from the keeper’s right-boot but he lost control s he shaped to shoot having cut in from the left and Matip toed it away. 

8:36PM

35 min LIV 0 POR 0                 

Minamino has a great opportunity to send Salah running down the wing but he plays the 30-yard diagonal behind him. Poor dos. 

8:33PM

32 min LIV 0 POR 0                

Liverpool let a throw-in travel to the left of the D where Otavio slices a half-volley high, wide and hideous. 

8:30PM

30 min LIV 0 POR 0               

Another Mr Bean effort from the keeper after showing his good side, shanking a chip that Salah, had he been onside when the ball was played back to him, would have profited from. 

8:29PM

28 min LIV 0 POR 0              

The better side of Diogo Costa as he calmly takes control of a bouncing ball in his six-yard box after Salah burst towards the box and pinged a left-foot shot-pass into the centre of the box and it pinballed around for a couple of seconds with Mane and Minamino lurking. 

8:27PM

26 min LIV 0 POR 0             

The comedy keeper almost does it again, hitting a simple clearance into Mane’s head in the box which diverts it straight to Salah who misses the opportunity to bury it. Came at him a bit quick. 

Fabio Cardoso replaces Pepe. 

8:24PM

24 min LIV 0 POR 0            

Pepe has hurt his left ankle and signals that he is going to have to come off. He continues for now, though, until Porto can ready a sub. 

8:23PM

23 min LIV 0 POR 0           

Konate bundles Evanilson over. Steve McManaman is sickened by Evanilson making more of it than he deemed apposite … says a man who played for Real Madrid. 

8:22PM

21 min LIV 0 POR 0          

Perfect corner put on to the head pf Konate who pumps it straight down Diogo Costa’s throat. 

8:21PM

19 min LIV 0 POR 0         

Nice pass from Tsimikas, spinning the ball from the touchline down the inside left for Minamino to chase. He has the run on Mbemba, starting earlier but when he gets to the 18-yard line and looks to pass to the well=placed Salah and Mane, he finds Mbemba has caught up to block the cross and send it behind for a corner. 

8:18PM

17 min LIV 0 POR 0        

Liverpool look strangely vulnerable down both flanks tonight. 

8:17PM

15 min LIV 0 POR 0       

Liverpool earn a corner when Zaidu puts the ball behind on purpose under pressure but Matip sticks his effort into the hitherto pan-handed keeper’s hands. He distributes it up to Diaz who again has Williams on toast with his speed and trickery but his control and Williams team-mates bail him out. 

8:14PM

13 min LIV 0 POR 0      

Great chance for Porto. Diaz outsprints Morton down the inside-left, draws out the keeper and squares it to Otavio who should have buried it with his instep but misconnects. VAR checks to see if Tsimikas caught him and sent him sprawling but they decide he didn’t. What a waste. 

8:11PM

11 min LIV 0 POR 0     

The corner comes to naught but Evanilson powers down the left in the second wave of the attack, diddling Konate and getting to the byline where he finds Konate again, having diligently made a good covering run, to block his cross/shot which is erroneously given as a corner when it hit Evanilson last. No bother as nothing came of it. 

8:10PM

9 min LIV 0 POR 0    

Otavio mugs Tsimikas, bombs down the right and whips over ane excellent cross to the right of the penalty spot. Taremi gets up to meet it but goes for a glancer rather than a full-browed bullet yet he almost gets lucky as he diverts it on to Matip’s head and from there it whistles past the right post for a corner. 

8:08PM

7 min LIV 0 POR 0   

Tsimikas is penalised for a shove on Evanilson on halfway out by the whitewash. Evanilson seems to have twisted his ankle but is OK. The long pass towards the box is easily cleared by Liverpool. 

8:06PM

5 min LIV 0 POR 0  

Liverpool are pretty much stuck in their own half until Konate sprays a long pass to Morton who feeds Oxlade-Chamberlain to hit a curling pass, in to out down the right, with his laces for Salah to chase. Zaidu makes a good and crucial sliding tackle. 

8:04PM

3 min LIV 0 POR 0  

Diaz  uses his fancy footwork down the left, doing a 360 and then an L-shaped drag but Williams isn’t buying what he’s selling and Liverpool defend the flank well. 

8:02PM

2 min LIV 0 POR 0 

Porto are on the attack down the right and earn a throw-in. Twice they look for the ball beyond Tsimikas who, after conceding the throw, then concedes a corner. Matip wins the defensive header at the corner and Liverpool hold Porto at bay 30 yards out. 

8:01PM

1 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool kick-off, defending the Kpp and overload on the left after both sides take the knee. The kick-off has to be retaken after starting before the whistle. 

7:59PM

On the centre spot

Alisson captains Liverpool tonight and exchanges pennants with Pepe. 

7:57PM

Out come the teams

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

7:56PM

Jurgen Klopp speaks

We made some changes we needed to make. I like the line-up a lot, this is the most experienced subs’ bench I ever had. I really hope we can play a good game. [Tyler Morton is] a smart kid. He’s a good footballer and nobody plays the No6 roles like Fabinho, so why should he?

But we have a really good baller in that position.

‘Baller?’ Oh Jürgen. You’re 54, same as me. No ‘ballers’ please. 

7:35PM

In the BT Sport studio

We are being spoiled by Peter Crouch and Michael Owen. Why does this broadcaster always give us partisan pundits – Scholes, Ferdinand and the admirably objective Hargreaves on United, McManaman, Owen and Crouch on Liverpool? 

7:33PM

Has anyone ever played for Liverpool

With a higher shirt number than Tyler Morton’s 80 in a Champions/Premier League game? I know higher numbers have been allocated – Harvey Blair has 84 and played in the Carabo as did`#84 Conor Bradley but in one of the top two competitions has there ever been someone higher than quatre-vingts? 

6:58PM

And now for those of you watching in black and white

Liverpool Alisson; Williams, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Morton, Thiago; Salah, Minamino, Mane.
Substitutes  Adrian, Kelleher, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Milner, Henderson, Jota, Robertson, Origi, Phillips, Alexander-Arnold.

Porto  Diogo Costa; Joao Mario, Pepe, Mbemba, Zaidu; Otavio, Uribe, Sergio Oliveira; Diaz, Evanilson, Taremi.
Substitutes  Marchesin, Fabio Cardoso, Francisco Conceicao, Eduardo Pepe, Grujic, Corona, Manafa, Vitinha, Wendell, Bruno Costa, Martinez, Vieira.

Referee  Felix Zwayer (Germany)

6:49PM

Pepe is fit and starts for Porto

6:46PM

Tyler Morton starts for Liverpool

5:07PM

Good evening

Porto have never beaten Liverpool in nine attempts and have lost on their last four visits to Anfield by a combined score of 10-1, the Red Men saving their drubbings for the Dragao where they have won the last three 5-0, 4-1 and 5-1. But getting something out of this game against the home side who have already qualified in top spot after two convincing victories over Atletico, the Oporto onslaught  and the opening round defeat of Milan is a priority for Sergio Conceicao’s side.

The Portuguese league leaders, unbeaten in domestic competition so far this season, sit in second place in Group B with five points from a win, two draws and a defeat, a point above Atleti and four above AC Milan who, remarkably, could still qualify if they win their final two games, Porto lose and then draw with Atletico. 

Conceicao spoke to the press on his arrival on Merseyside, arguing that his side have rectified the tactical and individual errors that ruined their performance in the home match.  “It was some time ago that match,” he said. “We have corrected our mistakes and we have worked on that.

“There were some problems in the positions but we analysed it thoroughly and we are focused on the match, it will be a different match. The match is what we make of it. We cannot control the strategy of our opponents but it won’t be significantly different from what they have been showing in recent weeks.

“We have our own weapons, our ambitions and we will go there not just for one more match but a match which will be decisive, crucial.”

Veteran defender Pepe, who has 13 red cards over his career, merely half the number of his former Real Madrid partner Sergio Ramos,  has travelled with the side but Conceicao will make a late decision on whether he can play after he missed the weekend’s win over Feirense with a muscle problem.

Midfielder Marko Grujic is set to start, however, on his return to Liverpool after five years under contract at Arsenal, most of which were spent away during five lengthy loan spells.

“We all are able to watch the games on TV and we know a lot of information about Liverpool, they are a great team,” said the 25-year-old, who joined Porto in the summer after a year on loan. “It’s a special game for me, I will be back in the city where I spent five years. “I’m very motivated and if I get any minutes I will do the best I can so we can win the points.”

For Liverpool James Milner has returned to training  after a hamstring injury which has sidelined him for a month. Left-back Andy Robertson (hamstring) and striker Divock Origi (illness) were also present on Tuesday having missed Saturday’s win over Arsenal.

With qualification to the last 16 already secured, manager Jurgen Klopp will look to rest a number of his players which should mean starts for the likes of Ibrahima Konate, Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, Takumi Minamino and Origi among others.

Join us for the team news from 7pm.