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Liverpool 2 FC Porto 0 (April 9 2019)

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Report by
Dave Usher

 

A two goal lead and a clean sheet is a good night’s work. We’re not through yet but it would take an uncharacteristic defensive collapse for us to miss out on the semis now. Personally I thought Porto looked useful though so I’m taking nothing for granted yet.

 

It’s a mark of how far we’ve come that a win like this is just seen as fairly routine now. Nothing to get overly excited about. In fact, there may even be an element of disappointment from some. We played alright, but it was generally third gear stuff. As I said, we’ve come a long way.

 

The first half was good, the second half not so much. I wonder whether the way we played in the second half had anything to do with the Roma game last season though. 5-0 up and yet by the end of the second leg were hanging on and going through by a single goal margin because we conceded two away goals late on in the first leg. 

 

The first half in this one was end to end, thrilling stuff. Maybe Klopp didn't like that and thought we were too open? The second was certainly much more low key, as we played at a lower tempo and didn’t try to force it too much. Porto seemed to retreat into their shell a bit more too. In the first half they had a right go and seemed determined to not go home without an away goal or two. It made for an open, exciting opening 45 minutes.

 

We went ahead very early courtesy of a deflected Keita strike. Lovely move, but the finish was somewhat lucky as Casillas looked like he probably had it covered until he was wrong footed by the deflection. That’s two goals in two games for Naby, both of them massively deflected (maybe he's becoming the new Lampard). They all count though and it seems to have helped his confidence no end. 

 

I loved Milner’s role in that goal too. He wasn’t content to just go in and win the ball, he made sure he knew exactly where it was going and he put it perfectly into space to set Mané away. Proper veteran know how that. Clever play from Bobby too to come short and collect the ball before rolling it to Naby. Just good football all round.

 

 

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Good result all round. Can't see us not scoring in the second leg, in which case Porto will need 4 goals. 

 

We've come a long way in a short period of time (after doing fuck all for what seemed ages). 

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The offside goal did go to VAR. Even on the replays it was extremely hard to tell and looked to me like a defender's outstretched arm was maybe keeping Mane level. There was certainly no benefit of the doubt given. I always thought the linesman was supposed to keep his flag down in such tight scenarios, too. I don't even really know how it's supposed to work entirely. Is it like the NFL where they always go with the original decision unless there's clear evidence to overturn it? Had the goal been given originally then it might have been hard to overturn it in that case. VAR was just doing my head in even watching it at home last night, and it must have been much worst for anyone at the ground. I can't imagine anyone in the ground had a clue what they were checking for on the Lovren penalty incident in the second half. It's going to seriously slow the flow of the game down if they're constantly stopping to check for things like that (didn't exactly make any difference in the second half last night as there was never any game flow to slow down).

 

One step from the semi finals and yet there seems to be a general air of indifference amongst people about the champions league this year because everyone's so wrapped up in the title challenge. What a lovely contrast to the state we were in a few years back, though, when we'd have all been happy with a run in just about any competition.

 

On to Chelsea. I didn't see Chelsea's game on Monday, but the commentators last night were raving on about how great Hazard was in it. Good to know he's come into form just before he faces us just for a change. No idea what will happen but can guarantee Chelsea won't just wave the white flag like they did at City. Hopefully this is the month where the fixture pile up will weigh City down. Last night was a good start, with them finally being given a game, as it wont make much difference how many fixtures they play if all their games continue to be the glorified training sessions they've been playing for the last few months.

 

 

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19 minutes ago, mike23 said:

 Is it like the NFL

Yep - big part of the clusterfuck is this -- the NFL has got it down pretty well and they are tracking far more possible scenarios. The ruling should always be made on the field and should stand unless it is obvious.

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4 hours ago, mike23 said:

The offside goal did go to VAR. Even on the replays it was extremely hard to tell and looked to me like a defender's outstretched arm was maybe keeping Mane level. There was certainly no benefit of the doubt given. I always thought the linesman was supposed to keep his flag down in such tight scenarios, too. I don't even really know how it's supposed to work entirely. Is it like the NFL where they always go with the original decision unless there's clear evidence to overturn it? Had the goal been given originally then it might have been hard to overturn it in that case. VAR was just doing my head in even watching it at home last night, and it must have been much worst for anyone at the ground. I can't imagine anyone in the ground had a clue what they were checking for on the Lovren penalty incident in the second half. It's going to seriously slow the flow of the game down if they're constantly stopping to check for things like that (didn't exactly make any difference in the second half last night as there was never any game flow to slow down).

 

One step from the semi finals and yet there seems to be a general air of indifference amongst people about the champions league this year because everyone's so wrapped up in the title challenge. What a lovely contrast to the state we were in a few years back, though, when we'd have all been happy with a run in just about any competition.

 

On to Chelsea. I didn't see Chelsea's game on Monday, but the commentators last night were raving on about how great Hazard was in it. Good to know he's come into form just before he faces us just for a change. No idea what will happen but can guarantee Chelsea won't just wave the white flag like they did at City. Hopefully this is the month where the fixture pile up will weigh City down. Last night was a good start, with them finally being given a game, as it wont make much difference how many fixtures they play if all their games continue to be the glorified training sessions they've been playing for the last few months.

 

 

My understanding with offside is the referee should keep his flag down unless they are certain the player is offside, in which case they can raise it. VAR can still be used either way, obviously.

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Cracking report as usual Dave,I also think Gini will start on Sunday (famous last words)...Gini so strong, still think Naby gives ball away too much& a couple of times too slow and only for the crowd "man on" would have been caught on a couple of more occasion's.His confidence is growing though, hopefully all bodes well.C'mon redmen.

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There is no need for the complete fucking nonsense with VAR. The Bundesleague has it pretty much down pat. Just follow them, or use German refs for the remaining game OR find some decent fucking officials and the useless contraption can be binned.

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6 hours ago, mark melia said:

Cracking report as usual Dave,I also think Gini will start on Sunday (famous last words)...Gini so strong, still think Naby gives ball away too much& a couple of times too slow and only for the crowd "man on" would have been caught on a couple of more occasion's.His confidence is growing though, hopefully all bodes well.C'mon redmen.

Totally agree with this reading of Naby’s game. I’m delighted to see some small improvements but, while totally open to the idea that adapting to both a new language/culture and Klopp’s style takes time, I’m disappointed by him.

 

The one thing I felt was nailed on in his game from watching him play for Leipzig is his explosive/aggressive style. However, he’s looked overawed and a little lacking in alertness/awareness here. 

 

There have been definite glimpses (although nothing anywhere near as compelling as the hipsters so desperately try to insist with their stat takes on his performances), but he’s nowhere near what we paid for yet. Thankfully though, I do get the impression that the barriers are mental rather than any deficiency in his ability, which bodes well for his improvement over time through continued exposure to Klopp’s way of training and playing. 

 

I do think he’s got to work harder on just settling in to a new country too. His English is still very weak and that will leave him feeling an outsider if he doesn’t improve it fast. Mané was noticeably looking out for him on the pitch and especially in the goal celebrations in the last two games. Think that shows the struggles he’s had. Came off more like a big brother than a best mate, to me. 

 

Anyway, let’s hope these last two games are just the start because, good though they’ve been, they’re nowhere near enough to justify a regular starting slot, never mind his fee.  

 

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I quite enjoyed George's melodramatic (if erratic) VAR announcements.

 

'VAR Check - Penalty. VAR Check - Penalty.'

(Men stare helplessly at the pitch. Confused children look up to anxious parents. Nervous pets whine and pace.)

'CHECK OVER. CHECK OVER.'

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15 hours ago, mike23 said:

The offside goal did go to VAR. Even on the replays it was extremely hard to tell and looked to me like a defender's outstretched arm was maybe keeping Mane level. There was certainly no benefit of the doubt given. 

 

 

An arm can't play someone onside.  It was tight but it was the right call. He was inches offside. 

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1 hour ago, liverpoolsno9 said:

An arm can't play someone onside.  It was tight but it was the right call. He was inches offside. 

Thats how I saw it too. Fair play to the linesman for seeing it and having the balls to back himself.

 

Or should he be called assistant referee now? 

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VAR is crap, because it's administrated by the same shit show officials who already referee the game. It's just a different way for them to make wrong decisions. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss. 

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26 minutes ago, johnsusername said:

VAR is crap, because it's administrated by the same shit show officials who already referee the game. It's just a different way for them to make wrong decisions. Meet the new boss - same as the old boss. 

Worked perfect last night in the Barca match. Lino made a shocking call with the offside and VAR corrected it.

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1 minute ago, Mark M said:

Worked perfect last night in the Barca match. Lino made a shocking call with the offside and VAR corrected it.

I'm talking mainly about the Premier League (he says, realising this is a European match thread...)

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The linesman may have gotten the Mane offside right, but it was so close there's no way he could have known for certain and in that situation he's supposed to wait, so to me that's a bad call and he just got lucky as if that's six inches the other way he's made a costly mistake.

 

That being said, it depends when he flagged. If the flag went up after the ball went in then it's fine. If it went up before and the Porto players reacted to it, then it's not.

 

The commentators seemed to think it was the latter, and that the ref may have even blew the whistle before the ball hit the net.

 

I don't know if that was the case or not, but talking hypothetically he shouldn't flag until after the ball is in the net.

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The funny thing about VAR is it is making officials look less than capable.

 

The exact opposite is true in the NFL where it is amazing how many times they get it right.

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