Liverpool 2-0 Porto
Liverpool will take a two-goal lead to Porto for their Champions League quarter-final second leg following a 2-0 win at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s side appeared to be on course for a comfortable win when Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino put them two-up inside the opening half-hour.
However, Porto came back into the contest and Liverpool were fortunate to deny the Portuguese side an away goal in the second half in which Mohamed Salah was fortunate not to be red-carded late on.
Liverpool boasted three changes from Friday's 3-1 win at Southampton as James Milner replaced Andy Robertson at left-back due to the Scotsman’s suspension, while Dejan Lovren made a first start since January and Jordan Henderson came in as Gigi Wijnaldum and Joel Matip dropped out.
Porto made a positive start as they capitalised on some sloppy play by the Reds and Moussa Marega flashed an effort from 20 yards just wide of Alisson’s upright in the second minute.
Liverpool quickly responded and took the lead in the fifth minute when Firmino picked out Keita after a quick move and his effort from 15 yards flew past Iker Casillas via a deflection off Eder Militao.
Virgil van Dijk made a timely intervention to prevent Marega a goal after he received a pull-back from Soares on 18 minutes, before Salah missed a golden chance to make it 2-0 four minutes later when he rolled a close-range effort past the post with just Casillas to beat.
However, the Reds did get a second on 26 minutes when Henderson picked out the run of Trent Alexander-Arnold and he subsequently rolled the ball into the middle for Firmino to fire in from close range.
Marega again went close for Porto, but this time Alisson denied him with a fine stop, before the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) deemed the ball rebounding off Alexander-Arnold following that save was not intentional and denied the visitors a penalty on the half-hour.
Liverpool thought they had grabbed a third just three minutes into the second half when Sadio Mane converted a Henderson cross at the back post, but VAR backed the assistant’s offside decision against him.
The Reds survived another VAR enquiry when the referee checked to see if a Lovren clearance came off his hand on 67 minutes, before Marega went close when he drilled a strike into the side-netting after picking up a ball over the top down the left side of the area.
Marega again went close on 81 minutes when he showed some good strength to get a cross-come-shot in from a tight angle, but watched as it flashed across the face of goal.
A third VAR decision went in favour of Liverpool three minutes later when Salah left a high foot in on Otavio Edmilson but managed to avoid a red card.
Craig Smithson is a journalist with over two decades of experience at the keyboard. A life-long Middlesbrough fan, Craig has an in-depth knowledge of all football and is also a keen fan of boxing amongst other sports.