It was a case of 'job done' for Liverpool as they moved into the Champions League quarter-finals with a goalless draw against FC Porto at Anfield on Tuesday night.
A 5-0 victory at the Estadio do Dragao in the first leg of the last-16 contest three weeks ago meant the Reds already had one foot firmly planted in the last eight – and they saw the tie through in their first knockout game at home in the competition since 2009.
On a night of few chances, Sadio Mane had the best midway through the first half, but his shot from James Milner’s clever pass cannoned against the base of the post, while substitute Danny Ings was also thwarted by a fine save from Iker Casillas late on.
Nevertheless, the visitors rarely threatened to claw back the five-goal deficit and the Reds will line up in next week’s last-eight draw.
The key points…
- Mane half-volley cracks base of post just after half-hour mark.
- Ings denied by flying stop from Casillas towards end.
- Liverpool progress into quarter-finals with 5-0 aggregate win.
- Reds in draw for next round on Friday week.
The team news…
The teamsheet confirmed five changes for Liverpool as Milner, Joe Gomez, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Adam Lallana came into the line-up.
Roberto Firmino and Mane retained their places in attack, but top-scorer Mohamed Salah was named on the bench.
The first half…
A minute’s silence in memory of Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who tragically passed away on Sunday at the age of 31, was held inside Anfield prior to the game getting under way.
With Liverpool holding such a commanding advantage from the first leg three weeks ago, the opening exchanges weren’t contested at the usual high levels of intensity.
Still, the hosts could have taken the lead on the night with 18 minutes elapsed, but Mane could only acrobatically nudge Gomez’s centre over the bar from eight yards out.
The Senegal forward had the game’s next best opportunity on the half-hour, too; he chested Milner’s searching pass to the right channel of the area beyond Diogo Dalot before cannoning a crisp low strike against the base of the post and across goal.
Soon after, Dejan Lovren looped a header onto the roof of the visitors’ net after meeting Milner’s free-kick from deep.
Nevertheless, the midway point was reached without either rear-guard being breached – and Liverpool another 45 minutes away from the Champions League last eight.
The second half…
The Reds fashioned a chance to break the deadlock moments after the restart with Moreno and Lallana combining well down the left, resulting in the latter pulling the ball back towards the vicinity of the penalty spot. Milner arrived to meet it, but scooped wide on the stretch.
At the other end, Porto threatened when Majeed Waris pounced on possession 25 yards from goal, strode forward and struck low, but Loris Karius was able to push around the post.
On 59 minutes, Jordan Henderson’s fine pass sent Firmino bounding in behind the visiting defence; however, his attempt to steer beyond Casillas was thwarted by Felipe’s excellent recovery challenge.
It was the last action of the night for the Brazilian, who was withdrawn and replaced by Ings shortly afterwards.
And on 74 minutes, Salah made his entrance into the contest, taking the place of Mane – and he almost claimed an immediate assist, but his cross for Milner was headed straight at Casillas. Jesus Corona then drilled wide of Karius’ near post.
With the game ebbing towards its conclusion, Ings was denied when his header from Salah’s hooked cross was kept out by a flying stop from Casillas.
Nevertheless, enough was achieved in the first meeting in Portugal to see the Reds comfortably through to the next stage of the tournament.