Thiago 'thunderball' stresses Liverpool's class and makes Porto pay for their profligacy

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Liverpool vs Porto, Champions League: live score and latest updates - Richard Martin-Roberts - CameraSport via Getty Images
Liverpool vs Porto, Champions League: live score and latest updates - Richard Martin-Roberts - CameraSport via Getty Images
  • Liverpool cruise to victory and a 16th successive win by two goals or more

  • Porto squander two great first-half chances

  • Reds have opportunity to become first English side to qualify with 18 points

  • Milan's victory over Atletico leaves second place wide open on Dec 7

Jürgen Klopp has compiled an extensive list of memorable Champions League nights during his Liverpool reign.

Suffice to say, this ultimately routine victory over Porto is not among them, and yet in its distinct way the manner of it summed up why Liverpool are again the team everyone else in Europe most wants to avoid.

Beating a team of Porto’s calibre while generally in second gear - securing a fifth consecutive group victory in the process - is a skill mastered only by the most accomplished.

While Porto, Atlético Madrid and AC Milan scrap on in a group initially deemed ‘of death’, Liverpool - already certain of qualification as group winners - reaffirmed their superiority even with the stakes low.

Porto had everything to play for at Anfield, Liverpool nothing other than a few million Uefa winnings for another group game victory.

Liverpool vs Porto, Champions League: live score and latest updates - Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
Liverpool vs Porto, Champions League: live score and latest updates - Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

Future generations might look wistfully on such evenings, in awe at the ease with which Liverpool swatted aside esteemed opponents, even when many of their VIPs were left on the bench. The symbolism of the moment may be revered more fondly than the 90 minutes itself.

The Portuguese side had some chances but failed to land a punch as second half goals from Thiago Alcantara and Mohamed Salah demonstrated why Klopp’s side are serious challengers to add to their tally as six-time winners, especially in a dominant second half when Porto’s defence wilted in front of the Kop. This was not a virtuoso European performance from Liverpool. It still included a goal that would have blessed the latter stages of the competition.

That came on 52 minutes when Thiago slammed past Diogo Costa from 30 yards for his first Champions League goal since leaving Bayern Munich.

“He has the technique to do it, but it needs timing to hit such a thunderball,” said Klopp.

What impressed from there was the ease with which back-up players slotted into the line-up and still outplayed an opponent which may yet join them in the round of sixteen.

Otavio squanders a golden opportunity - Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Otavio squanders a golden opportunity - Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Klopp was able to start with teenager Tyler Morton in midfield, Neco Williams at right back, and give Takumi Minamino another chance in attack, and although the general intensity level was understandably lower than usual, they were comfortable by full-time. The goalscorers were subbed almost immediately after their celebrations, Klopp able to win in Europe with an eye firmly on the Premier League weekend.

“We have to play even better on Saturday against Southampton,” said the manager.

Klopp’s dilemma in the final group game against AC Milan in a fortnight will be the same as here, considering which stars to rest rather than risk.

A conspiratorial Liverpool coach might examine the group table, recall Atlético Madrid’s conduct during recent fixtures, and consider Europe will not mourn a round of sixteen bereft of Diego Simeone’s war-mongers.

Standing firm against such cynicism, Klopp said from the outset he was not going to grant favours to Porto, although circumstances meant he could not make wholesale changes. A shortage of strikers kept Salah and Sadio Mané in the starting line-up, and lack of midfield options ensured Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago kept their place from the 4-0 win over Arsenal.

Despite their presence, Liverpool’s initial pace and demeanour put one more in mind of a pre-season warm-up than high octane European night.

Porto had opportunities to punish several early errors, the most glaring of which was Ibrahima Konaté’s 12 minutes in. The centre-back, deputising for Virgil van Dijk, was slack on the halfway line, allowing Luis Diaz to break clear and feed Otavio for what should have been a tap-in.

Otavio sliced wide and tried to save embarrassment by claiming he was fouled by Kostas Tsimikas’ recovery challenge. There was no impediment to what should have been the opening goal.

Mehdi Teremi was later culpable when one-on-one with Alisson, electing to pass rather than shoot, much to the disgust of his manager Sergio Conceicao.

Porto still looked nervous when attacked. Salah could find space at will on the right, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Williams an inch from delivering the perfect pass in the opening minutes.

The comfort zone was located after the majestic boot of Thiago delivered, the Spain maestro striking from 30 yards after Oxlade-Chamberlain’s free-kick was headed clear.

Salah added the second on 70 minutes, cutting inside to put Matheus Uribe on his backside, and leave Porto in a final matchday shoot-out with Atlético and Milan.

Liverpool's last group games have effectively become warm-ups for the Round of 16. They will not care who they meet next.

As it happened

09:53 PM

Full time LIV 2 POR 0

Liverpool took their chances, Porto didn't. Some very tidy performances from Morton, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Thiago in midfield and they were reprieved by woeful finishing when they had a few scares once their full-backs were exposed. Porto's Lucas Diaz and Otavio, despite that glaring miss, look terrific talents but Liverpool even with only five first choice players in the XI, were simply too good for them.

09:50 PM

90+1 min LIV 2 POR 0

The first of three minutes of stoppage time begins with Milner walloping a low left-foot shot that Diogo Costa deals with in relative comfort low to his right.

09:50 PM

90 min LIV 2 POR 0

Porto free-kick on the left, parallel with the 18-yard line and Vitinha can't beat the first line of defensive sentries. Dreadful. Utter garbage.

09:47 PM

88 min LIV 2 POR 0

Origi attacks down the left of the box but is seen off by Joao Maria. With Milan beating Atletico, Porto will remain in second if it stays that way with it all to play for on December 7.

Milner is booked for timewasting and will miss the trip to San Siro now.

09:45 PM

85 min LIV 2 POR 0

Conceicao Jnr has gone down holding his right ankle after a forceful collision with Milner. "They go to ground all the time," says Steve McManaman as if nothing like that goes on here.

09:43 PM

83 min LIV 2 POR 0

Vitinha has hurt his right knee and has gone off for treatment. They have made all their subs.

09:41 PM

82 min LIV 2 POR 0

It's Milner for Oxlade-Chamberlain who is getting better by the game, I think.

09:40 PM

80 min LIV 2 POR 0

Port look fed up. They had their chance and two golden goalscoring opportunities but flunked it. James Milner, 'Milly' to Liverpool fans, forever 'Spoggy' to certain Leeds fans, is about to come on.

09:37 PM

78 min LIV 2 POR 0

Toni Martinez replaces Evanilson and Marko Grujic come son for Uribe. Fabinho has also come on for Mane.

09:36 PM

76 min LIV 2 POR 0

Henderson lines up the free-kick from 19 yards. He exhales then drags it wide. He guessed the wall would jump and out it beneath them but screwed it a good two yards to the left of the left post.

09:34 PM

74 min LIV 2 POR 0

Origi, who has replaced Salah, is awarded a penalty for a trip by Mbemba but it was a long way out of the box and VAR overrules him.

09:33 PM

73 min LIV 2 POR 0

Liverpool ahve now scored two or more in 16 successive matches, the first English club to do so since Wolves in 1938-39.

09:32 PM

71 min LIV 2 POR 0

Long ball from left to right from Konate I think, Salah takes it down the wing after a mistake from Zaidu, backheels it to Henderson who plays a reverse pass with his instep for Salah to take into the box. He shimmies to the left, Uribe slides in and misses ball and man completely, allowing Salah a free path to goal and he pings a left-foot shot into the bottom right corner.

09:29 PM

GOOOAL!!

Liverpool 2 Porto 0 (Salah) It's that man again.

09:28 PM

67 min LIV 1 POR 0

Ian Darke reminds us of the tine when Brendan Rodgers tried to swap Jordan Henderson for Clint Dempsey. He also bought Fabio Borini, lest we forget.

09:25 PM

65 min LIV 1 POR 0

Neat start from Robertson who plays a one-two with Minamino and gets round the back to almost tee up Mane but his cross is blocked and Mane shanks a shot from the corner with the outside of his left boot out for a goalkick. Klopp, on his feet, grimaces and gurns before flashing his million dollar smile with those massive, pearly clackers.

09:23 PM

63 min LIV 1 POR 0

Porto send on Francisco Conceicao and Vitinha for Sergio Oliveira and the profligate Mehdi Teremi.

09:22 PM

61 min LIV 1 POR 0

Minamino sticks the ball in the back of the net with a volley from 15 yards but was miles offside.

Liverpool make two substitutions: Henderson for Thiago, Robertson for Tsimikas.

09:20 PM

59 min LIV 1 POR 0

Alisson does a Diogo Costa with what should have been an unflustered clearance which he kicks straight at Otavio to the right of the box. He has Teremi free in the middle but he snatches at a simple square pass and hooks it beyond him. Terrible football all round.

Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara scores their first goal - Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington
Liverpool's Thiago Alcantara scores their first goal - Action Images via Reuters/Molly Darlington

09:17 PM

57 min LIV 1 POR 0

Diaz with the dazzling feet is played down the inside left channel, shoots across goal and Alisson makes a fine save that won't count as he was flagged offside even though VAR, had it gone in, would have had to check because he looked marginally on.

09:14 PM

55 min LIV 1 POR 0

Allez x 3, naturally, resounds around Anfield.

09:13 PM

54 min LIV 1 POR 0

Oxlade-Chamberlain is tripped on the right and takes the free-kick himself but can't beat the first line of defenders. It's headed out to the inside-left channel 25 yards out and Thiago meets it with a thunderous half-volley that stays about three inches above the ground all the way until it billows into the bottom right corner. Have you ever seen a more sweetly struck half-volley?

09:11 PM

GOOOOOAL!

And what a goal it was: Liverpool 1 Porto 0 (Thiago)

09:09 PM

50 min LIV 0 POR 0

Otavio fizzes in a Barnes-Wallis cross into the six-yard box that Alisson slaps away only as gar as Cardoso 15 yards out and he spins, falls and lays it off to Uribe who sweeps a right-foot shot maybe a foot wide of the left post.

09:07 PM

49 min LIV 0 POR 0

Joao Mario beats Tsimikas and hares towards the corner flag. Konate trips him to stop him getting a cross in. Free-kick.

09:07 PM

47 min LIV 0 POR 0

Teremi is handed another exceptional chance having peeled off to the back post to jump against Neco Williams when JoaoMario fizzes in a cross from the right. But he bludgeons it nearer to the corner flag than the left post.

09:05 PM

46 min LIV 0 POR 0

Porto made Liverpool wait a couple of minutes on the field before emerging for the second half. No changes as yet (beyond Cardoso for Pepe).

08:48 PM

Half-time LIV 0 POR 0

Two great chances for Porto spurned by Otavio and Teremi but Liverpool look very dangerous on the break. Luis Diaz will get a £30m move at the end of the season on this showing.

08:47 PM

45 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool corner after good play between Salah and Mane leads to Mane shootong with his left from the right of the box and watching it balloon over via a Porto leg.

Liverpool opt for the near-post corner and Porto defend it.

08:45 PM

43 min LIV 0 POR 0

After you, Claud. Otavio spins a pass down the right into the box for Teremi who squares it instead of trying to chip it over a diving Alisson. There was no one to receive his blind pass and was nothing less of a dereliction of duty by the Iran No9. Have a dig for goodness sake. Jings, Crivens and Help ma boab.

08:42 PM

41 min LIV 0 POR 0

Neco Williams crosses after Zaidu tackles Salah and sticks it on Minamino's head but he didn't finish it and was offside in any case.

08:40 PM

39 min LIV 0 POR 0

Very tight but a toe offside when Oxlade-Chamberlain caught Mbemba dawdling with a slotted pass down the inside-left, Mane took it wide, cut in and swept it in at the far post across Diogo Costa who gave up once he saw Mane closing in on him either in certainty about the offside or fatalism about Mane's finish.

08:39 PM

NO GOOOOAL!

Offside and ruled out by VAR.

08:38 PM

GOOOAL!

Liverpool 1 Porto 0 (Mane)

08:38 PM

37 min LIV 0 POR 0

Matip takes his turn in thwarting the slippery Luis Diaz found by a 60-yard diagonal from the keeper's right-boot but he lost control s he shaped to shoot having cut in from the left and Matip toed it away.

08:36 PM

35 min LIV 0 POR 0

Minamino has a great opportunity to send Salah running down the wing but he plays the 30-yard diagonal behind him. Poor dos.

08:33 PM

32 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool let a throw-in travel to the left of the D where Otavio slices a half-volley high, wide and hideous.

08:30 PM

30 min LIV 0 POR 0

Another Mr Bean effort from the keeper after showing his good side, shanking a chip that Salah, had he been onside when the ball was played back to him, would have profited from.

08:29 PM

28 min LIV 0 POR 0

The better side of Diogo Costa as he calmly takes control of a bouncing ball in his six-yard box after Salah burst towards the box and pinged a left-foot shot-pass into the centre of the box and it pinballed around for a couple of seconds with Mane and Minamino lurking.

08:27 PM

26 min LIV 0 POR 0

The comedy keeper almost does it again, hitting a simple clearance into Mane's head in the box which diverts it straight to Salah who misses the opportunity to bury it. Came at him a bit quick.

Fabio Cardoso replaces Pepe.

08:24 PM

24 min LIV 0 POR 0

Pepe has hurt his left ankle and signals that he is going to have to come off. He continues for now, though, until Porto can ready a sub.

08:23 PM

23 min LIV 0 POR 0

Konate bundles Evanilson over. Steve McManaman is sickened by Evanilson making more of it than he deemed apposite ... says a man who played for Real Madrid.

08:22 PM

21 min LIV 0 POR 0

Perfect corner put on to the head pf Konate who pumps it straight down Diogo Costa's throat.

08:21 PM

19 min LIV 0 POR 0

Nice pass from Tsimikas, spinning the ball from the touchline down the inside left for Minamino to chase. He has the run on Mbemba, starting earlier but when he gets to the 18-yard line and looks to pass to the well=placed Salah and Mane, he finds Mbemba has caught up to block the cross and send it behind for a corner.

08:18 PM

17 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool look strangely vulnerable down both flanks tonight.

08:17 PM

15 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool earn a corner when Zaidu puts the ball behind on purpose under pressure but Matip sticks his effort into the hitherto pan-handed keeper's hands. He distributes it up to Diaz who again has Williams on toast with his speed and trickery but his control and Williams team-mates bail him out.

08:14 PM

13 min LIV 0 POR 0

Great chance for Porto. Diaz outsprints Morton down the inside-left, draws out the keeper and squares it to Otavio who should have buried it with his instep but misconnects. VAR checks to see if Tsimikas caught him and sent him sprawling but they decide he didn't. What a waste.

08:11 PM

11 min LIV 0 POR 0

The corner comes to naught but Evanilson powers down the left in the second wave of the attack, diddling Konate and getting to the byline where he finds Konate again, having diligently made a good covering run, to block his cross/shot which is erroneously given as a corner when it hit Evanilson last. No bother as nothing came of it.

08:10 PM

9 min LIV 0 POR 0

Otavio mugs Tsimikas, bombs down the right and whips over ane excellent cross to the right of the penalty spot. Taremi gets up to meet it but goes for a glancer rather than a full-browed bullet yet he almost gets lucky as he diverts it on to Matip's head and from there it whistles past the right post for a corner.

08:08 PM

7 min LIV 0 POR 0

Tsimikas is penalised for a shove on Evanilson on halfway out by the whitewash. Evanilson seems to have twisted his ankle but is OK. The long pass towards the box is easily cleared by Liverpool.

08:06 PM

5 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool are pretty much stuck in their own half until Konate sprays a long pass to Morton who feeds Oxlade-Chamberlain to hit a curling pass, in to out down the right, with his laces for Salah to chase. Zaidu makes a good and crucial sliding tackle.

08:04 PM

3 min LIV 0 POR 0

Diaz uses his fancy footwork down the left, doing a 360 and then an L-shaped drag but Williams isn't buying what he's selling and Liverpool defend the flank well.

08:02 PM

2 min LIV 0 POR 0

Porto are on the attack down the right and earn a throw-in. Twice they look for the ball beyond Tsimikas who, after conceding the throw, then concedes a corner. Matip wins the defensive header at the corner and Liverpool hold Porto at bay 30 yards out.

08:01 PM

1 min LIV 0 POR 0

Liverpool kick-off, defending the Kpp and overload on the left after both sides take the knee. The kick-off has to be retaken after starting before the whistle.

07:59 PM

On the centre spot

Alisson captains Liverpool tonight and exchanges pennants with Pepe.

07:57 PM

Out come the teams

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

07:56 PM

Jurgen Klopp speaks

We made some changes we needed to make. I like the line-up a lot, this is the most experienced subs’ bench I ever had. I really hope we can play a good game. [Tyler Morton is] a smart kid. He’s a good footballer and nobody plays the No6 roles like Fabinho, so why should he?

But we have a really good baller in that position.

'Baller?' Oh Jürgen. You're 54, same as me. No 'ballers' please.

07:35 PM

In the BT Sport studio

We are being spoiled by Peter Crouch and Michael Owen. Why does this broadcaster always give us partisan pundits - Scholes, Ferdinand and the admirably objective Hargreaves on United, McManaman, Owen and Crouch on Liverpool?

07:33 PM

Has anyone ever played for Liverpool

With a higher shirt number than Tyler Morton's 80 in a Champions/Premier League game? I know higher numbers have been allocated - Harvey Blair has 84 and played in the Carabo as did`#84 Conor Bradley but in one of the top two competitions has there ever been someone higher than quatre-vingts?

06:58 PM

And now for those of you watching in black and white

Liverpool Alisson; Williams, Matip, Konate, Tsimikas; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Morton, Thiago; Salah, Minamino, Mane.
Substitutes Adrian, Kelleher, Fabinho, Van Dijk, Milner, Henderson, Jota, Robertson, Origi, Phillips, Alexander-Arnold.

Porto Diogo Costa; Joao Mario, Pepe, Mbemba, Zaidu; Otavio, Uribe, Sergio Oliveira; Diaz, Evanilson, Taremi.
Substitutes Marchesin, Fabio Cardoso, Francisco Conceicao, Eduardo Pepe, Grujic, Corona, Manafa, Vitinha, Wendell, Bruno Costa, Martinez, Vieira.

Referee Felix Zwayer (Germany)

06:49 PM

Pepe is fit and starts for Porto

06:46 PM

Tyler Morton starts for Liverpool

05:07 PM

Good evening

Porto have never beaten Liverpool in nine attempts and have lost on their last four visits to Anfield by a combined score of 10-1, the Red Men saving their drubbings for the Dragao where they have won the last three 5-0, 4-1 and 5-1. But getting something out of this game against the home side who have already qualified in top spot after two convincing victories over Atletico, the Oporto onslaught and the opening round defeat of Milan is a priority for Sergio Conceicao's side.

The Portuguese league leaders, unbeaten in domestic competition so far this season, sit in second place in Group B with five points from a win, two draws and a defeat, a point above Atleti and four above AC Milan who, remarkably, could still qualify if they win their final two games, Porto lose and then draw with Atletico.

Conceicao spoke to the press on his arrival on Merseyside, arguing that his side have rectified the tactical and individual errors that ruined their performance in the home match. "It was some time ago that match," he said. "We have corrected our mistakes and we have worked on that.

"There were some problems in the positions but we analysed it thoroughly and we are focused on the match, it will be a different match. The match is what we make of it. We cannot control the strategy of our opponents but it won't be significantly different from what they have been showing in recent weeks.

"We have our own weapons, our ambitions and we will go there not just for one more match but a match which will be decisive, crucial."

Veteran defender Pepe, who has 13 red cards over his career, merely half the number of his former Real Madrid partner Sergio Ramos, has travelled with the side but Conceicao will make a late decision on whether he can play after he missed the weekend's win over Feirense with a muscle problem.

Midfielder Marko Grujic is set to start, however, on his return to Liverpool after five years under contract at Arsenal, most of which were spent away during five lengthy loan spells.

"We all are able to watch the games on TV and we know a lot of information about Liverpool, they are a great team," said the 25-year-old, who joined Porto in the summer after a year on loan. "It's a special game for me, I will be back in the city where I spent five years. "I'm very motivated and if I get any minutes I will do the best I can so we can win the points."

For Liverpool James Milner has returned to training after a hamstring injury which has sidelined him for a month. Left-back Andy Robertson (hamstring) and striker Divock Origi (illness) were also present on Tuesday having missed Saturday's win over Arsenal.

With qualification to the last 16 already secured, manager Jurgen Klopp will look to rest a number of his players which should mean starts for the likes of Ibrahima Konate, Neco Williams, Nat Phillips, Takumi Minamino and Origi among others.

Join us for the team news from 7pm.

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