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Bring on mighty Barcelona, roars Jurgen Klopp

On target: Mohamed Salah celebrates netting for Pool
On target: Mohamed Salah celebrates netting for Pool

By Carl Markham

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is relishing a semi-final with Barcelona after his side cruised into the last four of the Champions League.

The Reds strolled into the semis as a late flurry of goals saw them triumph 4-1 in Porto and 6-1 on aggregate.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Virgil van Dijk netted for the Premier League leaders after they had held off the ambitions of Porto in the first half and then scored three times in the final half an hour.

It was not quite a repeat of the 5-0 rout Liverpool enjoyed here 14 months ago but by the final whistle the effect was just the same as Klopp's side advanced with the minimum of fuss.

The German said: "It's the first time for me that I will have played Barcelona apart from in a friendly and of course we're looking forward to that."

On the win over Porto, he added: "We played better but it was very difficult at times, we knew before that it would be a proper whirlwind here and that's what they did.

"They had these moments, they had the momentum, we had no rhythm in those moments and let them do what they did, but defended it well in the last line, and the last third of the pitch.

"We had our moments, not too many, but we scored the goal and we had a good chance.

"Second half it was clear the energy levels had dropped a bit for Porto so we could control the game much more and could score the goals.

"It was a difficult game but we won it so I'm completely fine going into the semi-finals. I think we are the only ones who were there last year so that's really special for us."

Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson said his side had to withstand some early pressure.

"They are a good team, they made it intense and the lads dug in and defended really well," said the England international midfielder.

"They had some half chances. You could see the effort that we put in. I was warming up when Sadio (Mane) scored and I thought it was a goal. I think I was the only one.

"Thankfully it was given and it gave us a real boost coming in at half-time.

"When I came on I tried to keep the ball and be sensible. Joe (Gomez) made a great run (for Firmino's goal), I just tried to hit an area and it's a great finish from Bobby.

"The scoreline flattered us a little bit. Porto had a really good go.

"Even when we went in front it was a really good atmosphere."

Liverpool forward Mane felt Porto fully tested his side.

He said: "To be honest, at the beginning it was tough.

"Everybody was scared but I think the team spirit was great and we never gave up and we tried to push harder.

"We created many chances and scored many goals so I think we deserved to win."

When asked about his goal, which was given offside before VAR intervened, Mane said: "To be honest, for me I was thinking it's offside and I thought I should just keep going.

"It was an important goal but the most important thing was to qualify for the semi-finals and we did it so I think it's great."

Liverpool will face Barcelona in the first leg of their semi-final at the Nou Camp on Tuesday, April 30.

Belfast Telegraph


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