Reds beat Porto to close in on CL semis; Son rocks City - GulfToday

Reds beat Porto to close in on CL semis; Son rocks City

Reds

Liverpool’s Naby Keita (right) celebrates with team-mate Roberto Firmino after scoring against Porto during their Champions League 1st leg quarter-final on Tuesday. Agence France-Presse

Liverpool closed in on a Champions League semi-final meeting with Barcelona or Manchester United after sweeping aside Porto 2-0 in the first leg of their quarter-final tie at Anfield.

Far from the late drama that has accompanied the Red’s Premier League title bid of late, Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino struck inside the first 26 minutes to put the hosts in command.

“2-0 is a really good result, I would have taken it before the game and I take it now,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

Liverpool’s only regret may be not building a more emphatic lead to take to Portugal for next week’s second leg.

However, a fourth clean sheet in five home Champions League games this season means an away goal at the Estadio do Dragao on April 17th will leave Porto needing four to progress.

Liverpool thrashed the Portuguese giants 5-0 in the first leg of their last-16 tie last season and the scoreline could have been just as embarrassing for Sergio Conceicao’s men had the hosts been more accurate in front of goal.

It took the hosts just five minutes to open the scoring as Keita got his second goal in as many games having waited nine months to open his Liverpool account.

The Guinean got the benefit of a big deflection off Oliver Torres as his strike from the edge of the area left veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas helpless.

Mohamed Salah ended his eight-game goal drought as Liverpool returned to the top of the Premier League table with a 3-1 win at Southampton on Friday, but the Egyptian got his angles wrong when he failed to double the hosts’ lead with just Casillas to beat moments later.

Conceicao was visibly furious with his side’s slack defending, but Porto could easily have got back into the tie when Alisson Becker saved well with his feet from Moussa Marega.

Liverpool then had to survive a VAR review for a potential handball against Trent Alexander-Arnold as Alisson palmed the ball into his full-back.

Soon, though, Alexander-Arnold was helping twist the knife into Porto at the other end with his eighth assist of the season.

Jordan Henderson, playing in a more advanced midfield position than normal, cut the visitors’ defence open for the England international to square for Firmino to tap into an empty net.

Only a matter of centimetres denied Liverpool a third early in the second half when another excellent Henderson allowed Sadio Mane to volley home, but the Senegalese was flagged offside.

The fine balance Liverpool must strike in maintaining their quest for European glory while also trying to end a 29-year wait for a league title was in evidence as Klopp withdrew Mane and Firmino in the final quarter with one eye on Sunday’s Premier League visit of Chelsea.

Meanwhile, Tottenham ignored Harry Kane’s latest injury woes as Son Heung-Min sealed a priceless 1-0 win over Manchester City after Hugo Lloris saved Sergio Aguero’s penalty in a dramatic Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side earned a slender advantage thanks to Son’s clinical strike late in the second half at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Son scored the first goal in Tottenham’s posh new abode against Crystal Palace last week and now the South Korea forward has bagged their maiden European strike in the arena.

While Son soaked up the plaudits, much-maligned keeper Lloris also enjoyed a sweet moment of redemption in a troubled campaign when he kept out Aguero’s first-half spot-kick.

Tottenham’s victory was an unexpected twist to an enthralling encounter, especially after Kane injured his left ankle in a tackle on Fabian Delph early in the second half.

But City had only themselves to blame for failing to earn an advantage for the second leg in Manchester on April 17.

Having won the League Cup, reached the FA Cup final and kept the destiny of the Premier League title in their own hands, this was City’s next hurdle in the race for an unprecedented quadruple.

But City boss Pep Guardiola is adamant it is “almost impossible” to achieve a clean-sweep of all four major trophies.

City’s first defeat since a Jan.29 setback at Newcastle is not fatal to their European ambitions, but they will have to improve on this tired effort to stop Tottenham reaching their first European semi-final since 1984.

This was City’s 52nd competitive match of a draining season and Guardiola made four changes from the team that laboured to a 1-0 win over Brighton in the FA Cup semi-final on Saturday.

Fernandinho was selected instead of Kevin De Bruyne, the defensive-minded Brazilian lining up in midfield in a move that showed Guardiola was willing to sacrifice a little of his attacking philosophy in deference to Tottenham’s quality.

Agence France-Presse