Liverpool FC 4-1 FC Porto
Fernando Torres chose a fine time to open his UEFA Champions League account and inspire a home win.
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Liverpool FC grabbed three goals in the last 12 minutes to see off a stubborn FC Porto side and keep their UEFA Champions League hopes very much alive at Anfield.
Desperately needing a win to keep their bid to reach the knockout stages on track, the five-time champions saw an early Fernando Torres goal cancelled out by Lisandro López but Porto's defence was unlocked late on by the Spaniard's strike, a Steven Gerrard penalty and a Peter Crouch header. Liverpool can now progress with a victory at Olympique de Marseille on Matchday 6 when Porto, a point ahead of that pair, must avoid defeat against Beşiktaş JK.
The Kop boomed out songs in praise of Rafael Benítez all evening in a vocal show of solidarity with the Liverpool manager, whose previous European result was the competition-record 8-0 win here against Beşiktaş. Support for the players was in no short supply either, and the home fans' encouragement was rewarded with the opening goal on 19 minutes. Gerrard provided the custom-made delivery for Liverpool with an outswinging corner from the right and the unmarked Torres headed down low past Porto goalkeeper Helton to claim his first UEFA Champions League goal.
Visiting coach Jesualdo Ferreira had promised to send his team out to play attacking, open football, and his charges did not disappoint as the Portuguese Liga leaders immediately drove forward in search of an equaliser. They got it after 33 minutes when Przemysław Kaźmierczak muscled Javier Mascherano off the ball and crossed for López who headed the ball over Pepe Reina's flailing arms.
López had a glorious opportunity to put the away side in front soon after when he beat the offside trap only to clip the ball just wide of the post, while Marek Čech went close with a deflected shot that grazed the roof of the net. The visitors were holding sway but, forever Liverpool's talisman, Gerrard broke the shackles with a blistering free-kick from distance that flashed a metre wide and the teams went in level at the break, despite their attacking intentions.
There was no let-up in the intensity after the restart, albeit without some of the cutting edge of the half that preceded it, as genuine chances proved hard to come by. A towering clearance by Reina set up one of the better openings for the home outfit as he released Torres down the left. The striker teed up Yossi Benayoun to shoot from inside the box, but the Israeli international was off balance and he sliced the ball harmlessly wide. Helton had to be fully alert to deal with a difficult low cross by Mascherano, yet Porto held on until a devastating last 12 minutes.
It was Torres who finally made the breakthrough, shrugging off Bosingwa as he burst into the area and rifling in. When Milan Stepanov gave away an 84th-minute penalty for handball, the game was up for Porto – Gerrard making no mistake from the spot, calmly sending Helton the wrong way. Gerrard's corner three minutes later allowed Crouch to nod in Liverpool's fourth as Porto were left crestfallen.