Liverpool have all but qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals and they haven’t kicked a ball on the Anfield turf in the knockout-stages.
It’s fair to say that’s some going. The Reds exceeding expectations and then some with a thrilling performance away to Porto, securing a 5-0 victory that even overshadowed Manchester City’s 4-0 thrashing of Basel.
The result demonstrated the deadly impact of the club’s front three – Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane who seem to have taken Philippe Coutinho’s departure in their stride.
It was a particularly impressive night for Mane who, despite a poor run of form in recent weeks, bagged a hat-trick in Iberia with his two attacking teammates finding the net too.
There was plenty for the BT Sport panel of Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard to sink their teeth into after the game and, unsurprisingly, most of the praise was bestowed upon Mane.
FRANK LAMPARDS NAMES TWO ‘SPECIAL MENTIONS’ FOR LIVERPOOL
With good reason, too, and there was equal applause for Salah’s impudent finish.
That being said, Lampard was keen to point out two players in the Liverpool team that deserved a ‘special mention’ for their antics in the Porto performance.
They’re both Liverpool stars who go somewhat unappreciated by the wider footballing audience.
THE CRUCIAL ROLE OF ROBERTO FIRMINO
The first man in question is Firmino. Despite being part of the premier attacking force Liverpool possess, the Brazilian is arguably the one less spoken about and is often spotted doing the ‘dirtier’ work of tracking back to defend from the front.
“Firmino, who we spoke about before the game, his all-round game is incredible. All three of them are incredible but I have to give a special mention for someone who doesn’t catch the eye as much as the others. But he was brilliant,” Lampard declared.
“We could have picked clip after clip of him coming back to midfield to win the ball.”
Too right, Frank. Firmino is perhaps the most underrated player in the Premier League and his defensive role is vital in Liverpool’s attacking triumvirate.
JAMES MILNER BAGS A ‘SPECIAL MENTION’ TOO
The other man in question was James Milner who has often been an unsung hero in the Liverpool team and even provided an assist on Wednesday night.
For his role in Firmino’s goal, Lampard remarked: “Another special mention for James Milner here, because that could have been fizzed across the box or whipped across the six-yard box but no, he waits for Firmino and it’s a clinical finish as well.”
How fitting that Lampard’s two ‘special mentions’ combined in the end.