Sérgio Conceição and his FC Porto side entered into Tuesday’s Champions League Group B matchup against Liverpool with the weight of past results hanging heavy over their heads. That much was clear from the first whistle inside the home side’s Estádio do Dragão.
Try as they might, Porto were unable to stop history from repeating itself. On the back of a masterful midfield performance from Curtis Jones and goals from Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané and Roberto Firmino, Liverpool triumphed 5-1 in this Matchday 2 clash to take a commanding lead in Group B.
Jürgen Klopp’s Reds have long been a scourge to Conceição’s side, first dumping Porto out of the 2017-18 Champions League Last 16 with a riotous 5-0 victory in Portugal. The Reds next returned to the Dragão in the 2018-19 Quarterfinals, on the back of a 2-0 first-leg victory at Anfield.
Klopp’s side ripped through Porto again, submitting the home side to a 4-1 defeat. The primary goalscorers in both previous humblings before Tuesday’s matchup? Salah, Mané and Firmino.
More of the same for Liverpool and some first-hand aiding from Diogo Costa
Liverpool never looked pressured during Tuesday’s win, though for all the Reds’ attacking prowess, they were helped by Porto goalkeeper Diogo Costa’s shambolic performance. It was a nightmare of a match for the 22-year-old, as three errors led directly to Liverpool goals.
Costa first parried Jones’ rifled effort directly into the path of Salah, who had only to beat out Zaidu Sanusi to turn the ball home and put Liverpool up 1-0. The Reds claimed a deserved second on the stroke of halftime as Costa was caught in two minds when James Milner whipped in a cross from the right.
The keeper came off his line but hesitated to claim the ball, instead, forced to watch as it rolled past him and onto the boot of the waiting Mané. With 60 minutes gone, Liverpool’s third goal came through some tenacious play in midfield by Jones.
After winning the ball off Sérgio Oliveira near the center circle, Jones surged forward and threaded a ball through a wide-open gap to Salah, who tucked away his second of the day. Conceição must have thought his team had grabbed a lifeline with 75 minutes gone as Mehdi Taremi ably turned home a header to make the score 3-1.
Any hopes of a comeback were dashed just minutes later, Costa saving his most shocking howler for last as the keeper found himself stranded in no man’s land 30 yards from goal. Firmino, having entered the fray from the bench just minutes earlier, sent Costa scrambling back to his goal line on a fruitless chase as the Porto youth product tried in vain to prevent a fourth Liverpool goal.
Firmino completed his brace with 10 minutes remaining, just beating the offside flag as a cleared free-kick was sent back into the fray by Jones. The young Scouser was indomitable Tuesday, central to everything Liverpool sought to do and involved in four of the five goals.
His impact was nicely summed up by a tweet from Tactical Times:
Curtis Jones vs. Porto
89% Pass accuracy
3 Chances created
3/4 Shots on target
4/4 Dribbles completed
8/11 Duels won
Composed beyond his years, calm as you like, full of natural ability. Liverpool’s scouser gets better every time I see him play. pic.twitter.com/hXliPf3vj2
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) September 28, 2021
Skipper Jordan Henderson was full of praise for his fellow midfielder, telling BT Sport:
I know on paper he’s so young, but I feel as though he’s been around the first team for a few years now, he’s settled in really well, he’s matured really well … You can see he’s got all the attributes to be a top player.
Klopp’s side faces a tough early-season test as Liverpool will play host to Manchester City, themselves coming off a 2-0 defeat to Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Reds’ next fixture in Group B comes on October 10th with a journey to Spain and the Wanda Metropolitano to face Atlético Madrid.