Liverpool ran riot in Porto as they won their Champions League quarter-final 6-1 on aggregate to set up a clash with Barcelona.
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah scored for the second game running as Liverpool cruised to a 4-1 victory over Porto, sealing a 6-1 aggregate win that sets up a tantalising Champions League semi-final clash with Barcelona.
Leading by two from the quarter-final first leg, the Reds’ romp began when Mane struck after 26 minutes of Wednesday’s return match at Estadio do Dragao, VAR ruling the Senegal international onside after Salah played him in.
Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will have been delighted with the way his back four performed as the hosts tried in vain to turn the tie on its head, Sergio Conceicao’s men creating early chances but thereafter finding their attacking waves crashing harmlessly against Liverpool’s defensive rocks, with Virgil van Dijk imperious.
Eder Militao eventually found a way through, but only after Salah had effectively ended the contest by slotting home Liverpool’s second following Trent Alexander-Arnold’s superb cross-field pass with 25 minutes remaining.
Substitute Roberto Firmino and Van Dijk added gloss to the win with goals in the last 13 minutes.
Porto will be sick of the sight of Liverpool, who knocked them out in the round of 16 last season, and in current form the Reds look capable of winning wherever they play – even Camp Nou.
GET IN!!!! 🔴🔴
WE QUALIFY FOR THE #UCL SEMI-FINAL!! 🙌🙌
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 17, 2019
The hosts missed several good chances before a simple passing move saw Salah play a chipped ball into the six-yard box, where Mane slid in to score a goal that was initially ruled out for offside before a VAR consultation overturned the decision.
After the break, Liverpool put the tie all but out of Porto’s reach when Alexander-Arnold split their defence with a low, diagonal pass to Salah, who guided the ball into the bottom-left corner of the net with ease.
Mane rounded Casilla moments later but blazed wide of the target with the goal gaping, and Militao then rose unchallenged to head Alex Telles’ out-swinging corner past Alisson.
But Jordan Henderson and Firmino had come off the bench and the pair combined for Liverpool’s third, the England midfielder crossing from the right to find his team-mate unmarked in the box before Casillas was beaten with a downward header from close range.
With six minutes left, Van Dijk popped up with a simple header at the far post after Mane flicked on James Milner’s corner.
Next up, @FCBarcelona. 💪
UP THE REDS. 🔴🔴 pic.twitter.com/zvxWvSUJ47
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) April 17, 2019
What does it mean? Barca up next for Liverpool
Liverpool are top of the Premier League and fighting to reach their second consecutive Champions League final as a fine campaign continues. Even the mighty Barcelona, who cruised past Manchester United, have good reason to fear them in the last four, with an enthralling tie in store.
Van Dijk sets the tone
Van Dijk’s unflustered demeanour seems to radiate a sense of calm throughout the Liverpool team and he was steadfast as he staved off Porto’s early threat. His nine clearances were three times more than anyone else on the pitch recorded, and the late goal was the Dutchman’s just deserts for a stellar performance.
Pepe goes missing
So often a thorn in the side of strikers in the Champions League over the years, Porto’s Pepe was invisible at times as Liverpool ran riot.
Liverpool resume their Premier League title challenge with an away game at Cardiff City on Sunday, while Porto can go top of the Primeira Division if they beat Santa Clara at home.