A performance of stunning ruthlessness saw Liverpool run out 5-0 winners in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash with FC Porto.
Sadio Mane was the headline act for the Reds - the No.19 notching a brilliant hat-trick - while Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also got on the scoresheet as Jürgen Klopp’s team took a huge step towards the quarter-finals at the Estadio do Dragao.
Mane and Salah, who reached the landmark of 30 goals for the season with a piece of breath-taking improvisation, struck before the half-hour mark to put Liverpool in command.
And evidently not content with a two-goal lead to defend at Anfield next month, the Reds went on to add three more after the break.
Mane and Firmino both rounded off rapier-like forward thrusts with aplomb, before the Senegalese rifled home his third of the evening from distance with five minutes remaining.
- Quickfire goals by Mane and Salah put the Reds in charge by the half-hour mark.
- Mane rounded off a devastating break to add a third early in the second period.
- Firmino then got in on the act with a fourth 21 minutes from time.
- Mane completed his hat-trick with a late blast from range.
Captain Jordan Henderson returned to the Liverpool XI as one of three changes made by Klopp.
Dejan Lovren and James Milner also started - in place of Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - while Emre Can missed out through suspension.
Amid the relentless rain and a partisan atmosphere created by the home fans, Porto began the game in the ascendancy.
Yacine Brahimi forced an early corner out of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Lovren had to stretch to deflect Otavio’s shot over the bar, but the Reds managed to weather the storm - metaphorically speaking, at least.
Andy Robertson sent a long-range effort off target in the 12th minute as Liverpool gained a foothold by retaining possession for prolonged periods, despite Porto’s high press.
The visitors’ front three offered a glimpse of their considerable threat soon after, when Firmino slid in Salah down the right. The No.11 tried to find Mane at the back post, but his cross was cut out.
Robertson then whipped in an excellent cross in search of Firmino, who narrowly failed to make the desired contact with his head, but Liverpool didn’t have to wait much longer to see their growing control of proceedings register on the scoreboard.
Lovren nicked possession from Jose Sa's throw, before Georginio Wijnaldum did well to keep the move alive and the ball broke for Mane. His low, right-footed shot from inside the area squirmed under the Porto 'keeper and over the line.
And, just four minutes later, Salah’s predatory instincts and ice-cool composure doubled their lead.
Milner struck the post with an excellent curling attempt that had Sa beaten, and Salah reacted quickest to get to the rebound, flicked the ball over the goalkeeper’s head and finished for his 30th goal of a quite incredible debut season.
The Reds’ authority was almost absolute for the remainder of the half, but Francisco Soares very nearly pulled one back for the hosts just before the interval when his shot went narrowly wide.
Just eight minutes after the restart, a rapid and efficient counter-attack - started by Milner's expert interception - increased Liverpool’s advantage further.
Firmino and Salah played a one-two of the highest quality to enable the Brazilian a sight of goal. Sa got down well to palm his goal-bound shot away, but Mane was there to slot in the rebound.
From there, with their confidence brimming, the Reds were in cruise control – retaining possession with ease and opening Porto up almost at will.
Their fourth goal arrived in the 69th minute.
Mane wriggled away through the middle and fed Milner down the left. The No.7 had time to pick out Firmino with his cut-back, and the No.9 finished unerringly before celebrating with not one, but two, of his trademark kung-fu kicks.
Virgil van Dijk, so impressive throughout the game, produced a magnificent last-ditch block to deny Soares as Porto sought a consolation and Mane rounded matters off with an unstoppable drive from 20 yards five minutes from time.
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