Ketas early goal and Roberto Firminos second gave Liverpool a 2-0 home victory against Porto in their Champions League quarter-final first leg
Jrgen Klopp gave a passable impression of a Uefa PR executive in billing the reunion with Porto as tough for Liverpool. True, there was no slaying of the Dragons by his team this year. No real danger for them either. The Premier League leaders are on course for the Champions League semi-finals after controlling this first-leg tie with the experience and guile of seasoned campaigners.
It was not always serene for Klopps team at Anfield. Had visiting forward Moussa Marega converted one of several presentable chances for an away goal or Mohamed Salah been punished for a bad challenge on Danilo, the complexion of next Wednesdays second leg would have been very different. Marega did not, Salah was not, and it underlined the comfort level Liverpool enjoyed that Klopp could substitute Sadio Man and Roberto Firmino in readiness for Sundays vital meeting with Chelsea. A far from taxing European victory and no injuries. Perfect, in other words, for a team chasing their dream of the Premier League title.
Firmino was on the scoresheet in a deserved win that, with better decision making and precision in the second half, could have been a comprehensive one. Naby Keta was also off the mark in Europe for Liverpool as he delivered an incisive performance in central midfield, where Jordan Henderson dominated throughout.
The Porto coach, Srgio Conceio, claimed negative thoughts are in the past when dismissing the impact of Liverpools 5-0 defeat of his team last February. Klopp was equally unconvincing in his assertion that the two-times European champions were the last team he wanted to face in the last eight. With a defining, demanding period in the title race to come for Liverpool and Manchester City, the Portuguese side were the best remaining option available. So it proved.
As in the first leg of the last-16 tie last season Porto opened confidently and sharply, with Conceio showing no thought of containment away from home in his deployment of a three-pronged attack and a high defensive line. And, once again, his team were two goals down and looking ripe for a hiding before the half-hour mark.
Liverpool commenced their routine win earlier this time, puncturing Portos optimism and tame resistance with their first attack. James Milner, deputising for the suspended Andy Robertson at left-back, swept a raking pass out to Man on the left. The Senegal striker found Firmino inside the penalty area, he teed up Keta and the midfielders shot sailed into the top corner via a kind deflection off liver Torres. Iker Casillas had no chance but every right to question the marking in front of him. For Keta, it was a second goal in two games for Liverpool having gone 27 appearances without one. Another Klopp selection had been vindicated in quickfire fashion.