Liverpool thrash Porto in Champions League

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Porto (Portugal), Feb 15 (IANS) Sadio Mane’s hat-trick powered Liverpool to a 5-0 win over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League round of 16 tie, leaving the home side with no option but to hope for a miracle when they travel to England for the return fixture.

Porto, with two Champions League trophies on the shelf, dominated for the first 15 minutes of the contest at Estadio do Dragão on Wednesday and came close to scoring in the ninth minute on an Otavio strike that deflected off a defender before grazing the cross-bar, reports Efe.

But the five-time Champions League winners from Merseyside grew more confident as the minutes passed.

The breakthrough came in the 25th minute as Georginio Wijnaldum found Sane open on the left side and the Senegal international slipped the ball under Porto goalkeeper Jose Sa to put the Reds up 1-0.

The demoralised hosts conceded a second goal just four minutes later, when Mo Salah pounced on a loose ball and shook off a defender before beating Sa for his 30th goal of the season in all competitions.

Tiquinho Soares’ effort to pull one back for Porto in the dying seconds of the first half went just wide.

Eight minutes into the second period, Salah charged down the right side and left the ball for Roberto Firmino, who got off a quick shot. While Sa made the initial save, Mane was there to knock in the rebound to make it 3-0.

Liverpool, with bitter memories of dropping points in matches where they had big leads, kept their feet firmly on the accelerator.

James Milner exploited a giveaway by Porto’s Jesus Corona in the 70th minute to deliver a cross to Firmino, who increased the Reds’ advantage to 4-0.

Mane completed the hat trick with a goal in the 86th minute to put the exclamation point on a victory that all but guarantees Liverpool a berth in the quarter-finals.



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