Liverpool Drops a Deuce on Porto
Jürgen Klopp's fiery Reds were far from brilliant, but Liverpool played doggedly enough to secure a 2-0 win over FC Porto and gain a quick advantage in this two-leg quarter-final Champions League bracket clash.
They could've scored more.
This one was a mismatch from the kickoff, which is a bit of a concern in a way.
Not that the Red Army cares, but the Dragons are a signature side in Portugal. Their display at Anfield may have just been a bad night, but it also seemed to show a widening gap between the big clubs in big nations and everyone else.
Porto's strategy was to focus on controlling the game and shutting down Liverpool's potent front three.
Noble. Obvious, too. But immediately futile.
It only took the 'Pool five minutes to put paid to those thoughts. A James Milner long ball found Sadio Mané down the left wing. The Senegalese international dished to Roberto Firmino, who then fed Naby Keïta, who finished from the edge of the box.
The ball took a slight deflection, killing any hopes for the legendary Iker Casillas to do anything about it:
Frankly, the Reds just toyed with the Dragons after that, at least until they found another clear opening.
This came in the 26th through Firmino.
Moussa Marega was always Porto's most dangerous player, but he had little help and the chances were fewer as the match ticked down to its inevitable conclusion.
Frankly, the 'Pool should've put up a few more goals on them, but aside from their entire side coming down with food poisoning or something, the two they netted will likely see them through.
Liverpool did pot a third goal via Mané, but it was ruled to be offside.
Part of the issue was the style of play in Portugal's domestic league. It's much more tactical and much less physical, so when put up against the sheer ferociousness of a side hardened in the Premiership, Porto was nothing more than collateral damage in the Champions League bracket.
The Dragons might find a way to sneak in a home-advantage goal in the return leg, but really, this pairing's done like dinner.
Don't look for the Reds to slow down, so odds are you're gonna have to look elsewhere for your sporting thrills.