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Dominant Naby Keita inspires Liverpool victory

First half goals from Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino helped Liverpool stake claim to a 2-0 lead in their Champions League Quarterfinal tie with FC Porto.

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Goals

Keita (Firmino) 5′

Firmino (Alexander-Arnold) 26′

Fiery start at Anfield

JĂĽrgen Klopp made three changes to the side that ran out 3-1 winners at Southampton on the weekend.

James Milner replaced the suspended Andrew Robertson at left-back, while Dejan Lovren returned from injury to spell Joel Matip at centre-back.

Jordan Henderson was rewarded for a strong cameo appearance at the weekend, slotting in for Georginio Wijnaldum in a more advanced midfield role.

Joe Gomez was also restored to the matchday squad for the first time since a leg injury in early December.

Anfield was in full voice to welcome the Dragões for the second time in as many years but it was the visitors who started brightly.

Moussa Marega had a golden chance inside two minutes off a deflected cross in from the right flank. The Malian forward fired low and wide of Alisson’s post from the penalty spot.

Liverpool were clinical with their first chance and found themselves ahead after just five minutes.

Naby Keita picked up where he’d left off at the weekend. The Red’s No.8 has now scored in consecutive games after going goalless for the entirety of his Liverpool career.

Milner did well to play into the left channel for Sadio Mané, who drew two defenders to him before crossing to Roberto Firmino.

Firmino collected, swiveled, and laid off for Keita, whose strike took a massive deflection off Ă“liver Torres and past a helpless Iker Casillas.

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Reds’ midfield too much for Porto

The Reds did their best to hem Porto in their own half in search of a second. On 13 minutes, Jordan Henderson’s cross narrowly missed picking out a pair of Red shirts after Keita had played in Mohamed Salah down the right.

Salah drew an ovation from Anfield a few minutes later with some industrious defensive work off of a Porto counter.

Fresh off ending his 8-game goal drought and scoring his 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool at the weekend, he was a constant threat.

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The Egyptian took aim a few minutes later with a stinging volley from the edge of the box. Casillas fumbled the initial effort but corralled at the second time of asking.

He was then gifted a golden opportunity on the 21-minute mark. He seized upon a poor backpass to put himself in a one-on-one situation with Casillas.

Unfortunately, he scuffed his effort.

The Reds doubled their lead on 25 minutes through a beautiful team move. Firmino started the play, laying the ball off for Henderson in midfield.

The skipper shaped to cross from the right channel before sliding an inch-perfect through-ball for Trent Alexander-Arnold.

The fullback then squared for Firmino, who capped the move off into the vacant net.

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Marega drew a strong save from Alisson just before the half-hour mark, with the Brazilian doing well to block it.

There was a bit of controversy in the aftermath as Antonio Lahoz consulted VAR to determine whether Alisson’s follow-up parry struck Alexander-Arnold’s hand.

The officiating team ruled against a penalty but Marega found himself with a gilt-edged chance off the ensuing corner. It came to nothing.

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Liverpool went in search of a third with another sweeping move, but Firmino’s half-volley from a Henderson cross sailed high and wide of the near post.

Tighter second half

The Reds opened the half with a flourish, as Mané volleyed home a lovely cross from Henderson just two minutes in; however, the marker was pulled back for offside.

Porto seized upon the good fortune and did their best to up the pressure at the other end but the hosts dug in.

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All at once, the gameplan appeared to shift, as Porto dropped deep into their own half.

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Marega forced a third save of the evening from Alisson on 69 minutes but the Brazilian comfortably saved it.

Origi made an immediate impact when he came on for Sadio Mane. He drove at the left flank of the Porto defence to earn a free kick on the edge of the box.

The ensuing routine amounted to nothing, as Milner’s poorly timed layoff for Alexander-Arnold was easily cut out.

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The second half was not nearly as exciting as the previous period but it was enough to ensure a first leg advantage to Liverpool.

Up next for the Reds is a vital Premier League fixture at home to Chelsea before traveling to Portugal for Wednesday’s return leg.

Liverpool

Alisson, Milner, van Dijk, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Keita, Fabinho, Henderson, ManĂ© (Origi, 73′), Firmino (Sturridge, 82′), Salah

Porto

Casillas, MilitĂŁo, Felipe, M. Periera (Andrade, 77′), Telles, Torres (Costa, 73′), D. Pereira, Corona, Marega, Soares (Brahimi, 62′), Otávio

Alex Mansfield
Co-owner, editor-in-chief of LFC Transfer Room. @el_mansfield on Twitter. Love a good, civilized debate!

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