It was a somewhat disappointing result for Liverpool as they held out for a 0-0 stalemate in their return leg with Porto in the Champions League last 16, yet fans left Anfield upbeat in the knowledge that their club had progressed safely into the next round. Jurgen Klopp rested several key players ahead of the huge meeting with Manchester United this weekend, yet just five shots on target for the home side saw the Reds fail to break the deadlock in a simply miserable affair at Anfield.
Secondary players given run out yet fail to shine
Klopp understandably started with the likes of Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk on the bench, thus giving the likes of Adam Lallana and later in the game Danny Ings an opportunity to prove their worth, yet neither did much to impress the boss. The Reds failed to direct a single shot on target in the first half of a game for only the second time this season, and subsequently failed to score at home for the first time in their last nine games. It was also the first Champions League game this season with no first half shots on target, not pleasant reading for a side that prides itself on attacking intent.
Another clean sheet
One positive to take from the game however was the fact that Liverpool – and importantly Loris Karius – kept another clean sheet, meaning they have now kept five clean sheets in their past six games in the competition. Defensive and goalkeeping issues have plagued the Reds for too long now, yet Karius has undeniably improved with his improved game time over the past couple of weeks, a promising sign for fans who certainly had their doubts ever since his arrival at the club.
European nights finally back at Anfield
Despite all the negative statistics emanating from the encounter, only one fact matters, and that is the fantastic feeling that Liverpool are finally in the last eight of the Champions League, incredibly for the first time since 2008/09. It was Chelsea who knocked the Reds out back then, and Klopp’s men may have their revenge should the Blues manage to overcome the might of Barcelona this year. Liverpool then waited an agonising five years until their next appearance, but were miserably knocked out in the group stages after drawing 1-1 with Basel. Four years later and Liverpool are finally back where they belong. Fans will welcome Champions League nights at Anfield with open arms once again, and will be a hugely intimidating force regardless of which European superpower walks through the gates in the next round.