Mane hits hat-trick as Liverpool crush toothless Porto



Porto – Sadio Mane scored a brilliant treble as Liverpool romped to a 5-0 thrashing of Porto at the Estadio do Dragao on Wednesday to put one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals.

As it happened: Porto v Liverpool

Mane
fired the away side ahead in the first leg of the last-16 clash, before
Mohamed Salah’s audacious finish quickly made it two.

The
Senegalese forward slotted in his second as Liverpool completely
outclassed their opponents, with Roberto Firmino adding his name to the
scoresheet with 20 minutes to play, before Mane’s searing strike
completed his first European hat-trick.

Playing in the last 16 of
the competition for the first time in nine years, Liverpool are now all
but certain to reach the quarter-finals ahead of the second leg at
Anfield on March 6.

Jurgen Klopp’s men had scored 23 goals in the
group stage and continued that scintillating form in Portugal, while the
defensive frailties that have plagued them at times this season never
resurfaced as Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk put in accomplished
displays at the back.

Sergio Conceicao’s deflated Porto will now
turn their attentions back to domestic matters, where they hold a
two-point lead in the league and are in the Cup semi-finals.

Roared
on by the home fans, Porto started brightly and Brazilian midfielder
Otavio was denied an early goal by a last-ditch tackle from Lovren.

But
it didn’t take Liverpool long to grow into the game, as left-back
Andrew Robertson fired over on his Champions League debut and Ivan
Marcano’s brave block prevented Firmino from heading in.

But the
five-time European champions were gifted the lead in the 25th minute as
Porto goalkeeper Jose Sa, who has replaced former Real Madrid great Iker
Casillas this season, allowed Mane’s tame strike to squirm underneath
his body and into the net.

Mane has been overshadowed so far this
term by the blistering performances of Firmino and Salah, but the
Senegalese forward’s first goal in six games was his fourth in the
Champions League.

Liverpool took total control of the tie just four minutes later as Salah scored his 30th goal of the season in style.

James
Milner’s strike crashed into the post, but the Egyptian star was on
hand to flick the ball over the onrushing Sa with a magnificent piece of
skill and slot into the net.

The visitors were utterly dominant,
but Tiquinho Soares, playing in place of the injured Vincent Aboubakar,
fired narrowly wide for Porto on the stroke of half-time.

Porto
had plenty of the ball but were always vulnerable to Liverpool’s waves
of rapid counter-attacks, and Mane made it three shortly after the
restart.

The away side cut the Portuguese league leaders to shreds
with a series of first-time flicks and passes, and after Firmino was
denied by Sa, Mane was on hand to tap in the rebound.

The
visitors’ relentless pressure meant another goal was almost inevitable,
and it arrived when Milner picked out Firmino from a posse of unmarked
Liverpool shirts in the centre to slot home.

The English outfit
still weren’t finished, though, as Mane’s long-range effort flew past Sa
with five minutes remaining to round off the procession in fine
fashion.



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