The Reds were utterly dominant in their 5-1 victory over the Portuguese side in their Champions League group stage clash, with their captain’s demand ringing in their ears
If there was one stadium where Liverpool know that they could turn domination into goals then it is Porto’s Estadio do Dragao.
The Reds have of course been big, big victors there under Jurgen Klopp before, running out 5-0 winners in the Champions League last-16 in 2017-18 and then seeing off their hosts 4-1 one season later in the last eight.
This time the match the came earlier, but the outcome was the same.
A dominant Reds side swatted aside their Portuguese hosts by five goals to one as Liverpool displayed a ruthless streak that they have often been guilty of lacking of late.
Not least on Saturday at Brentford.
That was the captain’s take on it anyway.
“Yeah, I think at 2-1 up we had one or two big chances to finish the game off; I think if it goes 3-1 it’s a totally different game,” said Jordan Henderson on the pitch at the Brentford Community Stadium.
“But when you’re only one goal ahead it just still gives them that little bit of hope, they get a set-piece or a long ball into the box, and they managed to score the equaliser.
“That’s football sometimes, we’re very disappointed with the result in the end, but again like I said, you’ve got to give credit to Brentford, I thought they did well today.”
They did indeed, but there was a large tinge of regret to Henderson’s words.
He knew that Liverpool should have killed the game off because they had the chances to, but there was also an unwelcome aspect of their performance that Jurgen Klopp wouldn’t have liked.
Back when his Reds won the Champions League and more specifically the Premier League one year later, Liverpool could often rely on seeing out games by the odd goal because their defence was incredibly resolute, something that they weren’t at Brentford.
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As Virgil van Dijk works his way back to full fitness, Andy Robertson has had his own fitness and form issues in the past few weeks, and Trent Alexander-Arnold is now out, the Reds defence isn’t quite that formidable 2019-20 unit, but nor is it the academy products stacked on top of each other wearing trenchcoats that it was last season.
Back then Liverpool seemed to want to protect their defence simply by scoring goals, but that ruthless quality appeared to have dimmed a little this season as the stars returned.
The league wins against Norwich, Leeds and Crystal Palace and the Champions League victory over AC Milan could all have been sewn up earlier, as could the three points at Brentford of course. Liverpool only scored one first half goal in all of them and really should have had more.
Yet in Porto there was no doubt where the game was going from the moment Sadio Mane bundled in James Milner’s cross to give Liverpool a two-goal lead.
Porto were overrun after that, and for good measure Liverpool even wanted to take the game away from their hosts when they pulled a goal back in the second half, with the Reds adding two more from substitute Roberto Firmino.
Henderson’s plea to be more clinical seemingly worked, and Klopp will hope it sets a tone.