Liverpool humiliate Porto to set stage for quarters

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Sadio Mane scored a hat-trick as Liverpool marked their first Champions League knockout game for nine years with an emphatic victory at Porto in their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie.

Mane opened the scoring when home goalkeeper Jose Sa failed to hold his placed strike.

Mohamed Salah then showed wonderful composure to steer the ball home for Liverpool’s second and his 30th of an incredible debut season at the club.

With two away goals scored, the visitors could have been forgiven for taking a more conservative approach from then on but instead they went for more.

A swift Liverpool counter-attack ended with Sa spilling Roberto Firmino’s shot into Mane’s path and the striker made no mistake, before Firmino scored his 21st of the season, sweeping home James Milner’s cross.

Mane got his third with a driven strike late on to become only the second Liverpool player to score a hat-trick away from home in Europe since Michael Owen in 2002.

Porto had lost just two matches in all competitions this season prior to Wednesday’s game but simply could not cope with Liverpool’s unstoppable forward line.

Otavio had the Portuguese side’s best chance towards the end of the first half, placing his shot just wide of the far post after he was put through on goal.

Liverpool will expect to complete the job when they host Porto in the return leg at Anfield on Tuesday, 6 March.

Liverpool boast a proud record in continental football having won the European Cup or Champions League five times – more than any other English side.

But this was their first involvement in the knockout stages of the competition since 2009, when they lost 7-5 on aggregate to Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

It was like they had never been away on Wednesday as they made light work of a side that reached this stage of the competition last season and were quarter-finalists just three years ago.

Only PSG (25) scored more goals than Liverpool (23) in the Champions League group stages and the Reds picked up where they had left off in December as their front three proved too much for a nervous Porto defence.

The hosts ultimately became the latest side unable to cope with Liverpool’s rapid attack. This was the 17th time Liverpool had scored three goals or more in a game this season and the 10th time they have done it away from home.

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