And that’s your lot. Liverpool were forced to battle awhile against Porto, but held firm and eventually won comfortably. They’ll face Barcelona in the semi-finals of the Champions League in a fortnight’s time, the first leg at Camp Nou, while Tottenham Hotspur will take on Ajax in the other semi. Whatever happens, it looks like we’ll get quite a final. But first things first, and Andy Hunter’s report of tonight’s game is below: enjoy! Thanks for reading this MBM. Nighty night!
And now it’s the turn of Jurgen Klopp. “We have played better this season but it was very difficult. We knew it before that it would be a proper whirlwind here, and that’s what they did. They played in only one direction, long balls behind, they got the momentum and we had no rhythm. We defended very well in the last third, but when we had the ball we didn’t play enough. But we had our moments. We scored a goal, we had another really big chance. The finishes they had were not too good. In the second half their energy dropped and so we cold control the game more and score the goals. We have more experience now. It was a difficult game so it is all good. We are the only team who was in the semi last year that is there this year. It will be the first time for me that I’ve played Barcelona, so I am looking forward to that!”
Sadio Mane: “To be honest the beginning was tough. The team spirit was great, and we never gave up. But we pushed hard and created chances and we deserved to win. To be honest I thought I was offside, and I was surprised. But it was an important goal and we’ve qualified for the semis. We did it!”
Jordan Henderson: “It was tough. The lads dug in really well. It was difficult in the first half. We knew going forward we could score. I thought Sadio’s goal was onside, I was right in line with it, though I think I was the only one who thought that! I don’t think Shaq did. It gave us a real boost coming into half time. When I came on I tried to keep the ball and be sensible, but Joe made a great run to take the defender again, and I saw Bobby and Sadio in the middle. We believe we can remain unbeaten, but we have to work hard. We give everything and we try to be horrible to play against. Tonight’s scoreline flattered us a bit, and Porto’s crowd was amazing , so you’ve got to give some credit to them as well.”
Liverpool celebrate but not in a particularly expressive manner. They did their job calmly and professionally, and their post-match antics reflect that. Porto gave it their all tonight, but never seriously worked Alisson. Liverpool defended with great vigour, and up the other end, the style of Sadio Mane, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino told in the end. VAR did its job too. And there was more evidence of Jordan Henderson’s increasingly fine late-season form. This was the place to be tonight, right?
FULL TIME: Porto 1-4 Liverpool (agg: 1-6)
Liverpool will play Barcelona in the semi-final of the Champions League! They were made to work for this tonight, as Porto really came at them. But they soaked up all the pressure and eventually eased clear. It promises to be one heck of a semi-final!
90 min: There will be two added minutes. Liverpool are flicking it around in the insouciant style. Porto just want it over.
88 min: Salah wangs it miles over the bar and wide to boot. Perhaps he should have left it to all-new Henderson.
87 min: Gomez is bundled over, 30 yards out. A free kick, just to the right of centre. Salah fancies it.
86 min: Henderson chips a sensational ball down the right to release Firmino into acres. Firmino checks and lays off to Salah, who runs down a blind alley. Henderson’s late-season form is becoming increasingly eye-catching.
GOAL! Porto 1-4 Liverpool (van Dijk 84); agg 1-6
Milner whips the corner in with pace. Mane flicks in at the near post, teeing up an unmarked van Dijk, six yards out. The big defender heads down and in.
83 min: Salah, out on the right, curls a fine cross towards the back post where Milner lurks. Fernando does well to get in the road and head behind for a corner. From which …
82 min: A mistake by the understandably rusty Gomez allows Soares a run on goal. From the edge of the box, he toe-pokes a strange effort just wide of the bottom left. Not sure Alisson was getting there had it been on target.
80 min: Liverpool’s travelling supporters are making one hell of a racket now. Si senor.
GOAL! Porto 1-3 Liverpool (Firmino 77); agg 1-5
The all-new Jordan Henderson sets up yet another goal, gliding down the right and curling in for Firmino to head down and past Casillas. He couldn’t miss; that was on a plate. Jordan Henderson, though. He’s been all over Porto since coming on, and should have had one assist already.
76 min: Brahimi goes over in the Liverpool box while dribbling in from the right. Milner hadn’t made a challenge, though, and replays clearly show Brahimi going down under his own steam, in order to avoid a collision rather than a dive.
74 min: Given that comedic miss, I wonder if Liverpool nerves would seriously start to jangle if Porto were to get another? Van Dijk is forced to belt the ball behind for a goal kick under pressure in a footrace with Soares. From the corner, Felipe wins a header amid a melee, but can’t send it goalwards.
73 min: A bad minute for Mane is completed as he takes Henderson’s defence-splitting pass down the middle wonderfully well at full tilt. He’s clear. He enters the box, rounds Casillas on the right, and … slices wide right with the net gaping! Salah, who was in attendance hoping for the lay-off, holds his head in his hands. And no wonder. What a miss!
72 min: The Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson comes on for Andy Robertson. Mane has a dribble towards the Porto box, and has Salah clear down the right. But he doesn’t find his team-mate, and is stripped of possession.
71 min: That’s got the home fans going again. It’s almost certainly too little, too late for the Portuguese champions, but what a header.
GOAL! Porto 1-2 Liverpool (Militao 69); agg 1-4
A corner for Porto out on the left. It’s swung in. Militao rises on the penalty spot and blasts a simply unstoppable downward header into the bottom right. Porto now just need four more to make the semis.
67 min: That was some pass by Alexander-Arnold, who has some vision for a full back. The mind of a midfielder. It was his last touch, as he’s replaced by Joe Gomez, who returns from injury after five months.
GOAL! Porto 0-2 Liverpool (Salah 65); agg 0-4
Firmino wins a ball deep in his own half, and sends Liverpool on the break. Alexander-Arnold, out on the right, threads a diagonal ball to Salah down the inside-left channel. The ball is perfectly weighted, evading the desperate telescopic slide of Filipe. Salah is free. He draws Casillas and slams the ball past the keeper and into the net.
64 min: Liverpool take a little of the sting out of the game by passing it back and forth around the back. An ersatz nod to the late Seventies.
62 min: A free kick for Porto out on the right. Corona curls it in. It’s eyebrowed on by Herrera to Telles, who shanks over the bar. The flag didn’t go up, but four Porto players were alone in the box and I suspect a couple may have been marginally offside. But of course it doesn’t matter, a great chance having been wantonly wasted.
60 min: It’s end-to-end nonsense now. Marega works hard down the right but can’t quite find Soares in the middle. A better ball, though, and Liverpool were wide open. Then Firmino dribbles away from danger and very nearly releases Salah down the right, but Danilo intercepts just in time.
59 min: Mane sashays down the inside-right channel and one-twos with Firmino. He reaches the byline and wedges one back into the centre for Salah, but Felipe is on hand to intercept and clear.
58 min: Herrera, cutting in from the left, has a belt at goal from 25 yards. He gets plenty behind it, but Alisson is positioned perfectly to snaffle it gently in his midriff. Liverpool go up the other end, Milner working his way down the left. But his cross sails harmlessly out for a goal kick, with options in the middle.
57 min: It’s stopped raining. Mane dribbles down the right and crosses for Salah, who tries to guide a long-range header into the top left. It’s no good.
56 min: Telles again with a wild ball whistled out for a goal kick. Another waste, as he had time and space down the left and players in the box.
54 min: Herrera makes good down the right and crosses for Soares, who gets in ahead of Alexander-Arnold on the penalty spot but clanks his header well wide right. Porto have had their chances tonight, but have hardly worked Alisson at all.
53 min: Fabinho clips Danilo out on the Porto left. A chance for Porto to line up in front of the Liverpool box. Telles hoicks an appalling free kick straight out of play for a goal kick.
51 min: Porto’s corner is a complete waste of time. The Liverpool fans are making most of the noise right now. The home support understandably subdued. A goal would change everything.
50 min: The corner’s hit long from the left. Firmino tries to hook it back into the centre, but Porto clear. Corona dances down the right, teasing Milner with many stepovers. He crosses, forcing Matip to head behind under pressure from Marega.
49 min: Danilo plays a poor backwards header towards Casillas. Salah latches onto it, romping down the left. He’s got Mane and Firmino clear in the middle, but his cross doesn’t beat the first man. He’ll have to settle for a corner.
47 min: Porto need four goals, so you can understand their throwing an extra striker on. An early goal or two and you never know. Soares is quickly into the action, as he tries to chest down a fierce cross into the Liverpool box from the left. He can’t get it under control and Liverpool clear their lines.
Liverpool get the second half underway. Two half-time changes. The hosts have sent on Francisco Soares in place of Otavio, while Liverpool have replaced Divock Origi with Roberto Firmino.
Half-time entertainment. On the off-chance you don’t know what’s been happening at the Etihad, you’d better have a look at this.
HALF TIME: Porto 0-1 Liverpool (agg: 0-3)
There’s just time for Alexander-Arnold to turn cutely between Brahimi and Herrera, running clear down the right. Milner hangs out a leg to meet his low whipped cross, and the ball screws across Casillas and inches wide of the bottom left. Had that been on target, the keeper wasn’t getting to it. And that’s that for the first 45. Porto have been the better team, but Liverpool have defended with resilience and caught them on the break. Mane’s goal means Porto have to score four in the second half if they’re to get through.
45 min: Origi doesn’t turn on the jets when the ball’s loose down the Liverpool left, and Casillas is able to race out of his box and clear just in time. That was all a bit strange. Not sure why Origi didn’t really throw himself into that situation.
44 min: Marega barges his way towards the Liverpool box and causes momentary panic. Van Dijk and Robertson make a meal of clearing, the former kicking the ball up onto the latter’s upper arm. Porto want VAR to award a penalty, because the ref’s not going to. But Robertson’s arm looked in a natural position, and there’s nothing doing.
42 min: Liverpool are winning a lot of scrappy 50-50 challenges right now. It’s irritating the hell out of the home support, who whistle each one with great feeling and passion. The rain continues to fall.
40 min: Corona repeats his run of 33 seconds, racing in from the right, past Robertson, and looking to curl one into the bottom corner this time. Alisson has it covered.
39 min: For the first time this evening, Liverpool have gained a modicum of control. Porto aren’t really going anywhere right now. The busy Militao whips in another cross from the right, but it’s easily cleared by van Dijk.
37 min: Pepe is booked for clattering into Origi, who was attempting to turn into space in the centre circle. It was a fierce charge, a rutting stag making no attempt to play the ball. He has no reason to complain, but you know how Pantomime Pepe rolls. We’ll miss him when he’s gone.
35 min: It’s all a little bit scrappy right now. Liverpool will be more than happy with that, an away goal in the bag, the crowd quietened down a little, the clock on their side.