Liverpool 0-0 Porto (Agg: 5-0): Reds ease into Champions League quarter-finals
By James Walker-Roberts
Last Updated: 07/03/18 7:13am
Liverpool progressed into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with the minimum of fuss after a goalless second-leg draw with Porto secured a 5-0 aggregate win.
With the damage done in the first leg, Sadio Mane hit the post for Liverpool in a forgettable first half that was devoid of goalmouth action.
Substitute Danny Ings went closest to scoring a winner when he saw a late header tipped over the bar by Iker Casillas.
Liverpool: Karius (6), Gomez (6), Lovren (7), Matip (7), Moreno (6), Henderson (6), Milner (7), Can (6), Lallana (7), Mane (6), Firmino (5)
Subs: Ings (6), Salah (6), Klavan (5)
Porto: Casillas (6), Maxi Pereira (6), Felipe (7), Reyes (6), Dalot (6), Oliver (5), Andre Andre (6), Bruno Costa (6), Corona (6), Waris (6), Aboubakar (5)
Subs: Oliveira (5), Ricardo (5), Paciencia (5)
Man of the match: James Milner
While the 90 minutes will not live long in the memory, Liverpool had license to take their foot off the pedal slightly after their scintillating first-leg display and they are into the quarter-finals for the first time since 2008/09.
Liverpool now turn their attentions to the draw for the next round on March 16, as well as their Premier League clash against Manchester United on Saturday, live on Sky Sports.
With Porto all but conceding defeat in the tie by making 10 changes from the first leg and head coach Sergio Conceicao admitting the league was the priority, there was little tempo and intensity to the game throughout.
The first half, in particular, passed by almost without incident.
The only chances saw Mane drive a shot across goal and off the post and Dejan Lovren head over the bar from a free-kick.
The pace was raised slightly after the break as James Milner sliced wide and Majeed Waris had the first shot on target, a low effort that was palmed away by Loris Karius in the 52nd minute.
But still chances were few and far between and even the surprising introduction of Mohamed Salah with 16 minutes remaining failed to produce a winner.
Substitute Ings went closest when he saw a header tipped away by Casillas, who was making potentially his final Champions League appearance, in the 89th minute.
Liverpool made five changes from their weekend win over Newcastle, with Salah and Van Dijk dropping to the bench. Firmino and Mane both started along with Lallana, Moreno, Milner, Gomez and Matip. Porto made 10 changes from the first leg, with Casillas returning in goal and top scorer Aboubakar starting.
- Liverpool progress to the last eight of the Champions League for the first time since 08/09 (when they were eventually knocked out by Chelsea).
- Liverpool remain unbeaten against Porto in their six meetings in all competitions (W3 D3).
- Iker Casillas made his 167th appearance in the Champions League; 16 more than any other player in the history of the Champions League/European Cup (Xavi next on 151).
- This was the first Champions League game this season with no first-half shots on target, and the first since 14/02/2017 - Benfica v Borussia Dortmund.
- Liverpool also failed to direct a single shot on target in the first half of a game for only the second time this season in any competition (also v Chelsea on November 25th in the Premier League)
Jurgen Klopp: "Probably if you draw away and then win at home it feels maybe different. But the maximum you can achieve is the next round and we did that in a comfortable way. It was a big challenge for us, to be honest, in the preparation, it was different to other games. I think the boys did really well - we showed a fantastic attitude, a few pieces of really nice football and we defended very seriously. Now we are in the next round, so I don't need any more positives."
Man of the match - James Milner
Few players stood out in a quiet game, but Milner looked bright and set up two good chances in the first half as he teed up Mane to hit the post and then curled in a free-kick from which Lovren headed over.
He also went close to scoring after the break when he sliced wide from Adam Lallana's cutback.
Liverpool now turn their attentions to a clash against Manchester United on Saturday, live on Sky Sports. The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals takes place on March 16, with the matches on April 3/4 and 10/11.