Thiago's technique, a chance to make history and possible opponents

Talking pointsThiago's technique, a chance to make history and possible opponents

Published 25th November 2021

Liverpool are on the cusp of another piece of European history after beating FC Porto 2-0 at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Second-half goals from Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah earned the Reds, already qualified for the Champions League last 16, a fifth consecutive win in Group B.

Extended highlights | Liverpool 2-0 FC Porto

Here are six talking points we picked out from the action at Anfield.

Thiago’s technique

There’s only one place to start and that’s Thiago’s sumptuous opening strike.

It was going to need something special to hit the target when the Spain international shaped himself to try his luck as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cleared free-kick came towards him, around 25 yards from goal, on 52 minutes.

He certainly delivered.

'Scoring at Anfield is special' - Thiago Alcantara
24th November 2021

Reaction'Scoring at Anfield is special' - Thiago AlcantaraThiago Alcantara revelled in the special feeling of scoring at Anfield following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over FC Porto.

Thiago met the ball with a perfectly-executed slice of his right boot that sent it skidding beautifully just above the turf on a laser-like trajectory to the bottom corner of the Kop net.

A first goal of the season for the midfielder – one applauded with gusto by his manager, relished by his teammates and surely one of the finest of his career.

“I’m really glad and happy for the goal,” he said post-match. “In the moment, for me, it’s also important because I just came back from an injury and I just try to raise even more the confidence.”

Perfect record

Victory over the Portuguese visitors extended the Reds’ winning streak in Group B to five out of five.

It is the highest points total the club has ever achieved in the Champions League group stage – with one match still to play, at AC Milan early next month – beating the previous record (14) set in 2008-09.

Defeat Milan in Italy on December 7 and Liverpool will become the first English team ever to win all six of their fixtures in the group stage of the competition.

Only seven sides from any nation have ever done so in the Champions League, with AFC Ajax and Bayern Munich also still able to achieve a 100 per cent record this season.

17 in 17

Salah’s customary goal doubled the hosts’ advantage with 20 minutes remaining, the No.11 hooking a typically accurate finish inside the right-hand post from the edge of the area.

It was his 32nd Champions League goal for the Reds and maintained his sensational one-per-game scoring ratio in 2021-22, with 17 strikes in 17 appearances.

In doing so, the Egyptian also equalled the club record for goals scored by a single player in a European group phase – matching the six netted by Roberto Firmino in 2017-18.

When Salah racked up 44 goals during his debut campaign on Merseyside, he had netted 15 times by this date in the season.

P10 W7 D3 L0

So reads Liverpool’s updated head-to-head record against Porto.

Jürgen Klopp’s men have now won each of the last four – all in the Champions League – and five out of the six under the current boss overall by an aggregate scoreline of 18-2.

They’ll now hope meeting Os Dragoes can continue to be a lucky omen, as in each of the four previous seasons the sides have clashed the Reds have reached at least the semi-finals of the respective competition.

Indeed, Liverpool went on to win the UEFA Cup in 2001 and reach the Champions League finals of both 2018 and 2019 having faced Porto during those campaigns.

Tyler’s special week

After making his first Premier League appearance as a late substitute versus Arsenal last weekend, Academy graduate Tyler Morton took another big step.

The midfielder was brought in to Klopp’s starting XI to tackle Porto, replacing Fabinho in the centre, and went on to complete the full game with a composed performance that belied the magnitude of the occasion for him personally.

Little wonder that the captain swiftly made a point of marking Morton’s achievement post-match, nor that there were words of appreciation from the boss.

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“He did exceptionally well,” said Klopp. “He is a good player, I’m really pleased for him that he could put a performance like this in.”

Last 16 taking shape

The Reds must wait until the group phase concludes on December 8 to know all of their potential opponents in the next round, but some possibilities have now been confirmed.

Paris Saint-Germain and Sporting CP are guaranteed to finish second in Groups A and C respectively, meaning they could be paired with Liverpool in the last-16 draw on December 13.

As many as five further possible opponents will be sealed when matchday six takes place across December 7/8 as Groups D, E, F, G and H remain in the balance.

Published 25th November 2021