By Lewis Rooke – @LV_Rooke
It’s Liverpool who are in pole position to reach the Champions League semi-final after taking a 2-0 lead in the quarter-final first leg against Porto in what was a very professional performance. The Reds now travel to Portugal – where they ran out 5-0 winners last season – with a cushioned lead and no away goals conceded to worry about.
Here’s how they rated…
Alisson: 7 – Excellent save to deny the dangerous Moussa Marega in the first half when he was clean through on goal. He’ll be made up with a clean sheet as well.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 7 – Did alright on the right flank and got himself a superb assist too. Missing his best mate over on the left today, but he’s back for the second leg.
Dejan Lovren: 7 – Had one of his trademark “run forward to attack the striker and have the ball knocked round the corner and in behind you” moments in the first half, but got away with it. Good to see him back though.
Virgil van Dijk: 8 – As an opposing attacker, your heart must sink when you’re up against van Dijk. Almost impossible to find any joy against the Dutchman, despite Marega trying time and time again. Clean sheet and no away goals conceded, a good day.
James Milner: 7 – Mr Versatility once again deputising out of position at left and producing another admirable performance. Never the paciest but has an excellent football brain and an even better engine.
Naby Keita: 9 – Well, after so long he’s certainly came to party hasn’t he? Couldn’t buy a goal beforehand, now has notched himself two in two games – albeit thanks to a mammoth deflection. As for his performance, it was worlds away from the player we have become accustomed to – the Guinean was at the forefront of Liverpool’s defensive press in midfield and was clean and decisive with his passing. The timidity Keita had previously is slowly eroding, and he is certainly becoming the player we thought we signed. Terrific.
Fabinho: 7 – Was thoroughly outshined today by Keita and Henderson, yet did well in the midfield despite a few loose balls courtesy of his boot. He’s got some length on those bandy legs hasn’t he.
Jordan Henderson: 9 – Following on from his superb cameo against Southampton, the skipper carried on where he left off in a more advanced role and was absolutely superb throughout. Found himself all over the pitch and his passing was pin perfect, the advanced box-to-box role – reminiscent of his role in 2013/14 when he was at his best – really suits him down to the ground. A captains performance.
Sadio Mane: 7.5 – Unlucky to have his goal chalked off for offside, but a hairs breath denied the Senegalese from notching Liverpool’s third on the night. Was a threat throughout, but was eventually substituted for Divock Origi.
Roberto Firmino: 8 – Si, Senor. Trent gave the ball to Bobby and he scored. The Brazilian ran himself into the ground tonight and thoroughly deserved his goal.
Mohamed Salah: 7 – Better left back than Albie Moreno isn’t he. Threatened throughout, but is lacking the ability to release the ball at the right time – a talent which came so effortlessly natural to him last season, meaning the Egyptian is running into many blind alleys. Still, a good performance.
Divock Origi: 7 – So direct isn’t he.
Daniel Sturridge: N/A – Didn’t get injured, which is nice.
Xherdan Shaqiri: N/A – Looked like he was finally going to get some time on the pitch – even if it was only for a few seconds – but the final whistle blew before he could come on. Poor lad.
Man of the match
A toss up, to be honest. Liverpool’s two most maligned players – Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita – were utterly relentless in the midfield.
I’ll give this one to Jordan Henderson though – he covered every blade of grass today and showed why he’s the captain.