Liverpool successfully navigated their way into the Champions League semi-finals with a 4-1 victory over FC Porto at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday night.
Sadio Mane’s VAR-assisted goal gave the Reds the lead on the night and furthered their grip on the tie, with the No.10 able to celebrate after an offside flag was overruled when he tapped in from Mohamed Salah’s shot-turned-cross.
Salah grabbed Liverpool’s second of the evening on 65 minutes, with Trent Alexander-Arnold’s perfectly-weighted pass at the conclusion of a counter-attack enabling him to sweep beyond Iker Casillas.
Eder Militao pulled one back for Porto by glancing in from a corner; however, Roberto Firmino restored the two-goal advantage on the night, nodding in from Jordan Henderson’s cross.
Virgil van Dijk wrapped up the scoring by nudging Mane’s flick at a corner over the line from yards out, sealing a 6-1 success on aggregate.
Jürgen Klopp’s men now face a mouth-watering last-four tie with FC Barcelona later this month and early next to determine who will reach June’s final in Madrid.
Liverpool made three changes for the encounter at the Estadio do Dragao as Divock Origi, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum came in for Firmino, Henderson and Naby Keita, who were all named on the bench.
During his pre-match media duties, Klopp had underlined his belief in the threat Porto would hold on home turf, insisting neither Liverpool’s two-goal advantage from the first leg, nor the memory of last season’s 5-0 win at the same venue, would count come kick-off.
And with just 33 seconds on the clock, The Dragons signalled their intent when Jesus Corona cut in from the right and arched an effort just over the crossbar.
Shortly after, Moussa Marega controlled a ball into the area and struck goalwards on the spin; however, Alisson Becker was able to grasp the ball down to his right.
Indeed, buoyed by the lively home support, Porto had registered five attempts on the visitors’ goal by the 10-minute mark, though only two were on target.
Marega then steered wide from a Corona delivery and Yacine Brahimi had a close-range drive blocked by Joel Matip as the home team continued to press.
Only superb recovery work from Van Dijk denied Hector Herrera a strike at goal after he’d superbly controlled a ball over the top.
But finally, on 26 minutes, Liverpool took the lead and strengthened their grip on the tie – but it was a decision awarded in their favour by VAR.
Mane was the scorer, stretching to tap in Salah’s attempted shot across goal. A raised flag initially ruled the effort out, but the subsequent check showed the No.10 was not in an offside position.
Porto’s response saw Brahimi curl a side-footer into the midriff of Alisson and Corona hoist over from wide, while Milner was an inch away from a second Reds goal in first-half stoppage-time.
Firmino was introduced for Origi during the interval by Klopp; while it was another substitute – Francisco Soares – who headed wide for Porto as they maintained their endeavours to find a way back into the tie.
On the hour, Felipe spurned a good opening for the Portuguese side when he prodded well wide after being picked out by a free-kick into the box.
However, Porto were undone on the counter on 65 minutes when Firmino sent Alexander-Arnold scampering down the right. The full-back then threaded an inch-perfect ball through for Salah to race onto and finish with aplomb when facing Casillas.
The Dragons had something to cheer soon after with Eder Militao heading in from a corner to reduce the deficit.
Joe Gomez had been brought on in place of Alexander-Arnold between the goals to register his first appearance since sustaining a leg fracture at Burnley in December before Henderson replaced Andy Robertson for the final 20 minutes.
It was the captain who sent Mane speeding through on goal, but he couldn’t find the finish after side-stepping Casillas, striking wide when off-balance.
Nevertheless, Henderson did claim an assist when he supplied the cross for Firmino to nod in Liverpool’s third goal of the game on 77 minutes.
Van Dijk wrapped up a good night’s work by glancing Mane’s flick at a Milner corner over the line as the Reds set up a semi-final tussle with Barcelona, with the first leg set to take place in Spain in just two weeks’ time.