Liverpool had what most would consider the most favorable draw in the Champions League Quarterfinals by facing Porto. This was an open and fast-paced first-half. Liverpool dominated first-half possession (63-37%) and shots (8, 3 OT to Porto’s 4, 2 OT). Porto certainly had early opportunities though.
Liverpool didn’t create many quality opportunities in the second half (and no additional shots on target), but kept a possession advantage (64-36%) a clean sheet, and a 2-0 victory.
The win, coupled with Manchester City‘s 0-1 loss to Tottenham, (momentarily) makes Liverpool probability favorites to win the Champions League.
On to the ratings…
Jurgen Klopp (6) – So, Lovren in the starting XI? Another vote of confidence for Keita? What did Joel Matip do to deserve the drop for a cold Lovren?
The Keita call paid off big early, with the in-and-out-of-favor midfielder netting the opener in the 5th. The Lovren decision ultimately didn’t hurt the team. However, Klopp should’ve pushed harder for a second half goal. Yes, 2-0 is great, but Porto is an offensive team, will be at home for Leg 2, and a 3-0 win would’ve been significantly harder to overcome. #CrvenaZvezda #NeverForget
Alisson (7) – Worked harder than expected, coming up with two big saves around the 30th minute. Almost had a costly miscue with VVD, but a clean sheet is almost always going to get you at least a 7.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) – His typical effective attacking self, delivered a perfect pass to Bobby Firmino for the second goal. A constant threat, making run after run. Had a beautiful link-up sequence with Salah in the 61st. Inspired play.
Virgil van Dijk (7) – Is ALWAYS is the right spot. Like a magnet to the ball when Porto was trying to play through-balls on counters. John W Henry’s tweet about him definitely applied today.
Was SUPER shaky at the start of the second half, miscommunicating with Alisson and then feebly clearing a ball in the box to a Porto attacker. Steadied himself again towards the end.
Dejan Lovren (6) – Yeah, so. Clumsy early. Caught on a link up in the 17th and bailed out by VVD. Did ably get back in the 39th to shut down an attack. Earns one extra point in his grade for not giving up an OG or penalty in the box. Low expectations.
James Milner (7) – Filling in for Andy Robertson (who is out for accumulating two yellow cards in the previous round), his gorgeous deep pass to Mane set up the opening Keita goal. Distributed well from the back all game, got up field, 👏👏👏
Naby Keita (8) – !!! No, seriously, !!! Keita makes it two games in a row with a goal. Sure, he got lucky off the deflection, but he was solid on-ball early as well. Linked up well with the attacking trio up front. Strong play supporting Milner in the 65th minute. Tailed off a little towards the end, but his best game in red.
Fabinho (6) – A solid-not-spectacular performance in the middle. Still, a steady presence with perfectly weighted passes distributed all over the pitch.
Jordan Henderson (9) – Provided that “creativity” that’s been lacking from the Liverpool midfield of late. Hockey assisted Firmino’s goal on a simply gorgeous pass to TAA. Had what should’ve been an assist on a shaky off-sides call early in the second half on a should’ve-been Mane goal. Was active all 90 minutes. Really strong showing.
Roberto Firmino (9) – Creative as always, he assisted on the Keita opener. He finished TAA’s perfect feed for Liverpool’s second goal. We’ve written this before, but he’s so strong on-ball, hard to dispossess. When you’re directly responsible for both of your teams goals in a 2-0 game, you’re getting a strong grade.
Sadio Mane (6) – Like Salah, great work rate defensively. Missed a curler right before getting pulled out for Origi. Not the thunderbolt he’s been of late but not poor.
Mohamed Salah (7) – Needs to be stronger on ball, but great work rate early, helping stifle a counter in the 16th minute. Just missed two early finishes. Continued strong play in the second half, generating a number of opportunities. The difference between “Good Salah” and “HOLY CRAP SALAH!” is just inches, and he was just off today. Deserved a goal.
Divock Origi (5) – On in the 64th for Mane. Strong on ball but no real impact.
Daniel Sturridge (N/R) – Came on for Firmino in the 82nd. Didn’t make an impact.
MEN OF THE MATCH: Henderson and Firmino earn the honors. Not splitting hairs with those two. Both were superb.