FC Porto 1-4 Liverpool: Reds cruise into semi-final bout with Barcelona as Klopp maintains his perfect European knockout record
(Getty Images)

FC Porto 1-4 Liverpool: Reds cruise into semi-final bout with Barcelona as Klopp maintains his perfect European knockout record

Liverpool their way past Porto to reach the semi-finals for the second year in a row.

Joshua Kerr
PortoCasillas, Militao, Pepe, Felipe, Telles, Otavio (Francisco Soares 45), Pereira, Herrera, Corona (Andrade dos Santosat 78) , Brahimi (Almeida Costa 81) Marega,
Liverpool FCAlisson, Alexander-Arnold (Gomez 66), Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson (Henderson 71) , Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Mane, Origi (Firmino 45), Salah
SCORE0-1, Min.26, Mane, 0-2, Min.65, Salah, 1-2, Min.68 Militao, 1-3, Min.77, Firmino, 1-4, Min.84, Van Dijk

This was a fight that Jürgen Klopp not only expected but strategised. The German manager envisaged the early onslaught from the Portuguese champions and dealt with the threat to perfection. Talk about a procession, another heavy aggregate score that to be fair to the hosts doesn't paint the picture of the whole game but Liverpool won't care one bit.

The rampant Reds passed every test thrown their way with distinction. Resilient, relentless, ruthless; every attribute that Klopp has galvanised to form one of Europe's true heavyweight elites as his troops danced their way into the semi-finals of the Champions League for a second season running. Messi and co await.

Porto must be sick of the sight of Klopp and his team. Liverpool simply do not lose to the Dragons in Portugal. Not only did Klopp protect his perfect record as Liverpool manager in European ties as a tenth consecutive knockout victory ensured that a third straight UEFA final is very much on the cards.

Only Barcelona stand in their way of history and redemption. An intriguing proposition as Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho await their first Anfield returns. Under Klopp, Liverpool are not just a team revitalised but transformed.

Once again, Sadio Mane pounced to put Liverpool ahead for the eighth time in his previous 12 matches in what was ultimately a routine victory against an opponent that will have hoped to have seen the last of Klopp and his team who are now the only English side in the hunt for THE double.

Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk added to the damage limitation with the Reds dancing in the pouring rain at the Estadio do Dragao stadium. 

The story of the match

As the rain poured and poured on Porto all day Liverpool were the masters of weathering the early storm. The hosts tore into Liverpool from the opening whistle as every shot began to intensify their belief. It took 13 shots before the Reds even mustered an effort at Porto's veteran Champions League winning goalkeeper Iker Casillas

However, not for the first time that Porto's inability to take chances and a lack of ruthlessness in their finishing that saw Liverpool dully punish them for their incapabilities. 

The visitors spent the entirety of the opening minutes with the handbrake up and the warning lights on. Sadly for Porto though they were up against one of the more clinical opponents in the competition. It seemed totally ludicrous to think Liverpool had taken the lead with Alisson Becker the busiest man in Porto in the first 30 minutes. 

The two-time European champions looked more confident with the returning 36-year-old Pepe offering the hosts composure and authority. Liverpool made changes of their own with Divock Origi welcomed into the starting 11 for the first time since the Merseyside derby on March 3, the last time Liverpool last failed to win. Firmino took an overdue break on the sidelines for the first time in seven matches. His replacement was up against the outstanding Eder Militao, the flamboyant defender that is bound for Real Madrid this summer.

The 21-year-old - similarly to his display at Anfield - produced another mature and composed performance in his final European match for Porto before his dream move to the Bernabeu awaits him. Sergio Conceicao also made some further tactical tweaks to last week opting to deploy Otavio behind the forwards to put further early pressure on the visitors and outnumber Liverpool in the middle of the park.

It took Porto only 39 seconds to register their first opportunity and it was a sign of things to come. Jesus Coronoa glided in-between Van Dijk and the returning Andy Robertson before curling a teasing effort over the bar from an impressive angle.

Moussa Marega should have returned from his Merseyside travels with a goal to his name after squandering a number of opportunities in the first leg that would have changed the complexion of the tie. The forwards erratic finishing continued to haunt the French-born player tonight after he failed to properly connect with the ball from a corner that flew marginally wide. A deep cross from Alex Telles found him again unmarked, but usual practice followed as he snapped at the cross to hit another shot off-target. Groans quickly followed Marega from that moment on with supporters knowing full well that things may have been different had their striker been more clinical. 

For 28 minutes, Porto besieged at the Liverpool back-four. They huffed and puffed but failed to blow the house down and following the visitors first attack of the game they were behind. Origi and Salah linked together to find space. The Egyptian worked the ball under his feet before floating an inviting cross towards the back post where Mane was lurking at full stretch to poke past Casillas.

Eruption poured out across the away end, but the offside flag appeared to bail the hosts out. However, after a lengthy VAR review, Mane was deemed onside and Porto's nightmares uncovered. Liverpool had their all-important away goal.

In truth, the match was all but done from that moment. Liverpool began the second period with just the one alteration with the anonymous Origi making way for Firmino.

Porto continued to persevere but it seemed an impossible task. Following Mane's 22nd strike of the season, the hosts needed four goals to progress to the semi-finals and their change of play reflected their belief. Non-existent. 

Liverpool repaid their belief with a lesson in finishing when Salah latched onto a superb through ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold allowing the forward to glide through on goal ignoring the run of Mane before sweeping a convincing left-footed finish beyond Casillas. 

The impressive Militao got the hosts the goal their performance deserved after thundering home with a towering header to get the home crowd off their seats for the first time on a wet and miserable evening for the Primeira League champions. Liverpool undoubtedly responded to the setback as substitute Jordan Henderson continued his rich run of form to put one on a plate for Firmino before Van Dijk headed his fifth goal of the season - how he is beginning to do his bit in front of goal. For Liverpool, another semi-final awaits before another potential shot at avenging the pain of Kiev.