Sadio Mane scores his third and Liverpool’s fifth against Porto
By talkSPORT – @talkSPORT
Wednesday, February 14, 2018
Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick as Liverpool all but booked their place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a 5-0 thrashing of Porto.
Mane’s treble was added to by goals from fellow forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the away leg of their their round-of-16 tie.
Salah’s strike was the Egyptian’s 30th of the campaign as Jurgen Klopp’s side built up a formidable advantage to take back to Anfield next month.
It ensured a comfortable night in the Estadio do Dragao as the Reds’ first knockout encounter in nine years at this level passed without major incident.
Liverpool’s 28 goals is more than anyone else in the Champions League this term, with 25 coming in their last five games.
Porto, without injured top scorer from the group stage Vincent Aboubakar, had won won 13 of their last 15 games and conceded just once in the last six, and the early signs were that they would be tough opponents.
A desperate lunge from Dejan Lovren deflected Otavio’s shot just over Loris Karius’ crossbar as a game of cat-and-mouse developed in the opening 20 minutes.
But with Liverpool dominating possession it was only a matter of time before a team with this firepower would find a way through.
When it came, in the 26th minute, it may have owed something to the conditions with rain swirling around the pitch as it had the city all day.
Georginio Wijnaldum’s pass reached Mane on the left of the area and his shot squirmed under Jose Sa despite the goalkeeper getting a hefty touch.
If that was the nerve-settler, the second goal was a cause for celebration, coming after James Milner cut in from the left and lashed a right-footed shot against the far post.
The lurking Salah was quickest to react, collecting the rebound, flicking the ball up twice with his left foot, nodding it on with his third touch and then forcing home from close range – all within the space of about five yards.
It was the Egyptian’s ninth in his last eight matches, scoring in his last six games in a row, and only George Allan, whose 27 games in 1896 was seven faster than Salah, has reached the 30-goal mark quicker.
Liverpool were from then on able to control the game, although Yacine Brahimi cutting through their defence for Franciso Soares to fire just wide was a wake-up call seconds before the interval.
It was one they heeded as, after soaking up some early pressure, a quick counter-attack featuring an exquisite back-heel lay-off by Firmino to Salah – similar to his assist for the Egyptian’s goal at Southampton – in the centre-circle led to Mane tapping home his second after Firmino’s shot was parried by Sa.
The Brazil international finally found the target with 20 minutes to go as he side-footed home Milner’s cross before Mane’s piledriver put the tie surely beyond Porto.