Liverpool overcame another major hurdle on their dual assault for Premier League and Champions League glory on Sunday, defeating Chelsea to remain top of the table domestically with only four matches remaining. They have so far had no real difficulty with their two-tournament commitments and they take a 2-0 lead to Porto tonight for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Also, Jürgen Klopp welcomes Andrew Robertson back to his team selection after the Scotland captain was suspended for the first leg at Anfield last week. With the Reds scoring plenty recently, keeping it tight at the back and finally finding the right balance in midfield, all their stars seem to be aligning at the perfect time. Our statistical analysis assesses Liverpool’s chances in the second leg against Porto at the Estadio Dragão, with a semi-final against Barcelona awaiting the winners.
Last six matches in all competitions
Porto: W4, D1, L1, F12, A5
Liverpool: W6, D0, L0, F14, A4
Last week’s defeat at Anfield was Porto’s first since the beginning of March and, while their European campaign is hanging by a thread, their assault at reclaiming the Primeira Liga title remains firmly on course after a comfortable weekend win away to Portimonense. They also have a Portuguese Cup final for which to prepare at the end of May, with a recent draw at Braga confirming their passage with a 4-1 aggregate scoreline.
Liverpool have won their last seven games in all competitions, maintaining their grip on top spot in the Premier League and moving to within touching distance of the Champions League semi-finals for the second successive season. The Reds have also kept clean sheets in their last two outings, having conceded in each of the previous five games of their current winning run. They have also scored at least twice in all seven of those wins; if they can do likewise at the Estadio Dragão, only a monumental defensive collapse would see them crash out of Europe.
Porto v Liverpool in European competitions
4 Liverpool wins, 3 draws, 0 Porto wins
Porto are still seeking their first competitive victory over Liverpool after seven previous meetings. Indeed, they have only once led against the Reds in that time and even that lead was a very short-lived one in a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Dragão in 2007.
In each of the three previous European campaigns where the teams locked horns, their head-to-heads resulted in one draw and one Liverpool win. On that basis, stalemate in Portugal’s second city tonight might be the go-to bet, as Porto did trouble the Reds’ rearguard on occasion last week, albeit without ever looking likely to avoid defeat.
The two-time European champions have only scored in two of their previous meetings with Liverpool, though, and both of those were in the 2007/08 Champions League group stage. In both of those games, Porto netted once. A similar tally won’t suffice for them here.
Last Estadio Dragão meeting
Porto 0-5 Liverpool, 14 February 2018
Valentine’s Day of last year truly felt romantic for Liverpool fans, who would have been besotted with how the Reds went to an intimidating continental venue and made a decent home team look bang average. Porto applied some early pressure but were two goals down inside 30 minutes, Sadio Mané opening the scoring and Mohamed Salah showing brilliant improvisation to double the lead.
Mané effectively killed off the tie with his second of the night shortly after half-time and Roberto Firmino twisted the knife further on 69 minutes. The final arrow through Porto’s hearts was shot late on by Mané, who hadn’t been in the best form coming to the game but went home with the match ball after a magnificent hat-trick that helped to make the second leg a goalless formality.
Liverpool’s record in Portugal in European competitions
W3, D3, L4, F14, A10
Liverpool’s first visit to Portugal in a UEFA tournament did not go well, with the Reds losing 1-0 away to Vitoria Setubal in the second round of the 1969/70 Fairs Cup (the precursor to the UEFA Cup, for those of a younger ilk). It proved costly as, despite winning the second leg 3-2, Bill Shankly’s men exited on away goals.
Their next Portuguese away day was far more memorable, with the Reds recording a famous 2-1 win away to a fine Benfica side in the 1978 European Cup quarter-finals. The home side took an early lead but goals from Jimmy Case and Emlyn Hughes secured victory for Liverpool, who went on to retain the trophy later that year.
Six years later, there was a sense of dèja vu as Liverpool again enjoyed a victorious quarter-final trip to the Estadio da Luz en route to winning the European Cup. On this occasion, after a 1-0 win at Anfield, Joe Fagan’s Reds ran riot in Lisbon, Ronnie Whelan scoring twice and Craig Johnston and Ian Rush also on target in a 4-1 romp.
Eight months later, Liverpool were in the Portuguese capital to face Benfica once more, this time in the second round of the European Cup. The holders had the comfort of a 3-1 first leg win and they ultimately needed it, as they were beaten 1-0 at the Estadio da Luz but had done enough to progress.
More than 16 years would pass before the Reds next played competitively in Portugal. Their first visit to Porto ended in a goalless draw in the 2001 UEFA Cup quarter-finals, although it was their first clean sheet away to Portuguese opposition. Liverpool returned to that city seven months later for a Champions League group match against Boavista. Danny Murphy gave the Reds a 17th-minute lead but the teams finished level with a goal apiece.
Liverpool were hoping for another famous win away to Benfica in the 2006 Champions League round of 16 but, at the rebuilt Estadio da Luz, the home side won 1-0 with a late Luisão goal. Benfica also won the second leg to bring an end to Liverpool’s reign as European champions. Two seasons later, the Reds drew 1-1 away to Porto, Dirk Kuyt with the equaliser and Jermaine Pennant later being sent off.
Liverpool and Benfica met again in the quarter-finals of the 2010 Europa League. The home side won 2-1 in Lisbon but Liverpool turned the tie around with a handsome victory at Anfield to advance to the last four. They had no such luck a year later, though, after losing 1-0 away to Braga in the Europa League round of 16. A goalless second leg ended Liverpool’s continental involvement that year.
The Reds would wait seven years for their next visit to Portugal but it was worth every bit of that wait. It was, of course, the aforementioned 5-0 win away to Porto in last season’s Champions League knockout round, their 10th UEFA tie in Portugal proving to be their most satisfying.