The confirmation came as expected: the only Portuguese team in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League and record holder in participations in the group stage said farewell to the 2017/18 edition of the biggest club competition in the world. This Tuesday night, at Anfield Road, in England, FC Porto tied without goals against Liverpool, showing that the result of the first leg is far from showing the real difference between the two teams.
With the decisive period of the season coming, and given the workload the squad has been going through, Sérgio Conceição staged a revolution in comparison to the team that faced Sporting (2-1). There were seven changes, with special mention going to midfielder Bruno Costa, coming from the youth teams and the B team, and doing his absolute debut for the main squad at 20 years old, and to Waris, one of the winter reinforcements who hadn’t played from the start yet.
As expected, the match was played in a low pace, with neither team taking any chances. In the first-half, Liverpool had more ball possession, dominance on the pitch, but never created real goal chances. The best two chances came from Sadio Mané - one of them hitting the post (31m) -, but FC Porto also kept an eye on the opposing goal, as usual: Aboubakar, twice (9m and 19m), was unable to follow up on the passes from Felipe and Corona, and Waris was fast to get to a pass from Bruno Costa, but Karius was also fast closing in (17m).
Both teams took more chances in the second-half and made the match more interesting. The home team was the first to pose danger, in a good play that ended with a missed shot for Milner (47m). The Dragons reacted shortly after, by Waris: after eluding three opponents, the Ghanaian international star had a powerful shot that forced Karius to give a corner-kick (52m).
It was the most exciting stage of the match, with both teams looking for goal and creating a couple of situations to score. FC Porto was close to scoring, first by Corona (80m), and then by Sérgio Oliveira (82m), and finally by Óliver, in what was the best occasion for the blue and whites in the full 90 minutes: the shot from the Spanish midfielder was saved on the last second by Lovren (84m). The Reds replied shortly after, but Casillas, with a fantastic save, stopped Ings from celebrating what would have been an unfair advantage (88m).