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Liverpool 2-0 Porto: Reds maintain their 100% record in Europe this season as Thiago screamer and Mo Salah strike see off Portuguese side at Anfield, with teenager Tyler Morton playing 90 minutes on his Champions League debut

Daily Mail
Daily Mail
 2021-11-24

A rare goal by Thiago Alcantara and the customary one from Mo Salah was enough to maintain Liverpool’s 100 per cent record in this season’s Champions League - an achievement matched only by Bayern Munich and Ajax.

Porto had chances to cause an upset at Anfield but were undone early in the second half when Thiago grabbed his first goal of the season with a stunning half-volley from 25 yards.

In contrast, Salah’s scoring contribution was entirely expected as he kept up his current goal-a-game ratio before he was withdrawn by Jurgen Klopp to save him for bigger battles ahead.

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Thiago Alcantara scored a brilliant long-range goal as Liverpool beat Porto to maintain their peerless European record 
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The Spain international caught the ball perfectly from 25 yards out as his shot nestled into the bottom corner of the net 
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Mohamed Salah doubled Liverpool's lead when he fired in his 17th goal of the season with a powerful near-post strike 
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The Egyptian's terrific run in front of goal continued as the Reds entertained the home crowd on Wednesday evening 
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Jurgen Klopp will have been satisfied with his side's work - he also gave a Champions League debut to midfielder Tyler Morton

MATCH FACTS AND RATINGS

Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson 6: Williams 6.5, Matip 7, Konate 6, Tsimikas 6 (Robertson 63 6.5); Oxlade-Chamberlain 6 (Milner 82), Morton 7, Thiago 7.5 (Henderson 63 6); Salah 8 (Fabinho 71 6), Minamino 5.5, Mane 6 (Origi 71 6)

Subs unused: Adrian (Gk), Kelleher (Gk), Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Van Dijk, Jota

Goals: Thiago 52, Salah 70

Booked: Konate, Milner

Porto (4-4-2): D Costa 6: Joao Mario 7, Pepe 6.5 (Cardoso 25), Mbemba 5.5, Sanusi 6; Otavio 6.5, Uribe 5.5 (Grujic 76 6), Oliveira 6.5 (Vitinha 64 6), Diaz 6.5; Evanilson 6 (Martinez 76 6), Taremi 6 (Conceicao 64 6)

Subs unused: Marchesin (Gk), Cardoso, Corona, Managod, Wendell, B Costa, Vieira

Booked: Uribe, Mbemba

Referee: Felix Zwayer 6

Despite Liverpool having already qualified for the knockout stages as group winners, Klopp named a stronger team than expected with only a couple of youngsters included, Neco Williams and 19-year-old Tyler Morton.

Some big-hitters were rested, most notably Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold, but others started - Mo Salah and Sadio Mane among them.

Porto’s best-known player, 38-year-old defender Pepe, lined up for the Portuguese league leaders before ageing limbs got the better of him after 25 minutes and he had to be replaced. Marko Grujic, sold by Liverpool to Porto four months ago, was on the bench.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was so anxious to get going he kicked off the game 15 seconds before the scheduled 8pm start and had to retake.

But it was the visitors, thumped 5-1 at home by Liverpool in September, who began brightly and it was easy to tell the result carried greater significance for them with their progress into the last 16 still in the balance.

Porto had three excellent chances to opening the scoring inside the first 15 minutes - and missed the lot.

Firstly, Konstantinos Tsimikas dwelt on the ball and was robbed by Otavio whose first-time cross found Mehdi Taremi with the Iranian's close-range header blocked by Joel Matip.

Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate then made a goal-saving tackle to deny Evanilson after the Brazilian had got goalside.

Clearest of all, Luis Diaz set up Otavio on the six-yard line but as Tsimikas lunged in, the Porto player screwed his shot wide and his subsequent penalty appeal fell on deaf ears.

Klopp wanted a reaction and nearly got it after 20 minutes. Tsimikas’ outswinging corner found Konate unmarked but his header went straight into the arms of goalkeeper Diogo Costa.

It was a tough test for 19-year-old Morton, a local Liverpool lad who was up against Porto’s gifted midfield in only his second senior start.

But wearing the No 80 shirt, the competition didn’t faze him. Playing alongside Thiago, a player he particularly admires, he did everything to make his parents, season-ticket holders in the Anfield Road stand proud, with his energy and reading of the game.

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Porto winger Otavio had the game's first big opportunity but fluffed his lines when put under pressure by Kostas Tsimikas 
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Home-grown midfielder Morton, 19, was making his debut in the Champions League and performed admirably at Anfield 

Salah’s first sight of goal arrived after Sadio Mane hurried Costa into a clearance. The ball fell to the Egyptian’s feet but he failed to connect properly from 18 yards and the Porto goalkeeper was able to recover and gather.

Konate became the first name in the book for a barge on Joao Mario but the challenge seemed to belatedly wake up Liverpool.

They thought they’d taken the lead after 36 minutes when Thiago threaded a pass for Mane to fire past Costa but after a lengthy delay and completed celebrations, VAR ruled the goal out for offside.

Andres Uribe went close for the visitor early in the second period with a sharp turn and shot that just flashed wide. The move had started by Konate conceding another free-kick, the big defender looking in need of a run of games to get his rhythm.

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Porto centre-back Pepe was forced to come off injured in the first-half, reshuffling the visitors' back-line at Anfield 
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Sadio Mane thought he had given Liverpool the lead just before half-time but via VAR he was adjudged to have been offside 

The Anfield crowd who had braved the cold for a dead rubber were rewarded with a stunning strike from Thiago to open the scoring.

Oxlade-Chamberlain’s free-kick was cleared to the Spanish international from 25 yards and he made a perfect connection with the outside of his right boot to send a low finish sizzling past Costa.

It was only Thiago’s second goal of an injury-interrupted spell at Liverpool but worth the wait. The way the midfielder got his foot over the ball to make it swerve away from the goalkeeper was worthy of diagrams in a coaching manual for kids.

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Liverpool's players celebrate Thiago's sensational opener in the 52nd minute which set them on their way to another victory 
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Captain Jordan Henderson came on as a substitute and combined with Salah for the Egyptian's goal 20 minutes from time 

The 30-year-old had only returned to the team earlier this month after missing 14 games with a calf problem and he got a big ovation from The Kop when he was replaced by Jordan Henderson after 62 minutes with Andy Robertson also coming on for his return from a bruised ankle.

Salah added his obligatory goal after 70 minutes to give Liverpool a cushion. Henderson played a pass into his favourite position on the right angle of the penalty area. From there he shimmied inside Uribe who fell over and despatched a low finish into the bottom corner.

Salah has now scored 17 goals in 17 games for Liverpool this season and Klopp immediately replaced him after the goal with Saturday’s Premier League game against Southampton in mind.

Re-live all the action with Sportsmail's Kieran Jackson

19:35

Origi NOT for sale

Meanwhile, reports indicate Divock Origi is not for sale. Interestingly, he is again on the bench tonight when he may well have expected a start...

Liverpool have 'no intention of allowing Origi to leave in January'

The Magpies hoped the 26-year-old would be keen to kickstart his career with a six-month loan spell on Tyneside. But Klopp is set to shut down any possibility of him moving to St James' Park.

19:33

MORE PRE-MATCH ODDS

Liverpool vs Porto odds

Liverpool: 3/4

Draw: 3/1

Porto: 17/5

Sadio Mane first goalscorer: 9/2

Diogo Jota first goalscorer: 5/1

Mo Salah to score a hattrick: 28/1

Takumi Minamino anytime scorer: 12/5

Divock Origi anytime scorer: 3/1

Liverpool to win 1-0: 15/2

Liverpool to win 3-0: 13/1

Liverpool to keep a clean sheet: 9/5

Odds provided by Betfair

19:29

Another start for Thiago tonight at Anfield...

Slowly but surely, the Spain international looks to be finding his feet on Merseyside.

Thiago Alcantara insists his Liverpool career is just getting started as he stated his ambition to win trophies with Jurgen Klopp. The Spain international arrived in September 2020.

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