Marko Grujic came off the bench as Porto sealed one of the most dramatic victories of the campaign so far, knocking Juventus out of the Champions League in extra time.
The knockout stages of the Champions League come to a head this week, and ahead of Liverpool’s decider against RB Leipzig, Grujic was the first Reds player in action.
Porto arrived in Turin with a 2-1 lead from the first leg of their last-16 tie, but Juventus remained favourites to progress having scored an away goal.
Sergio Conceicao’s side cancelled that out within 19 minutes, however, as Merih Demiral brought down Mehdi Taremi in the penalty area, allowing Sergio Oliveira to step up and put Porto 3-1 up on aggregate.
Federico Chiesa grabbed one back for Juventus, before Taremi received his second yellow card for kicking the ball away following a foul, leaving Porto with 10 men for the final 36 minutes of normal time.
Juventus capitalised as Chiesa levelled the tie just after the hour mark, but with goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin and centre-back Pepe producing a series of heroics, Porto held on for extra time.
Grujic entered the fray just before full-time, in his usual duty as late substitute to consolidate a result, and the Serbian went on to play a valuable role.
Extra time was hallmarked by an impressive rearguard approach from Porto, and ultimately decided by a weak piece of defending from Cristiano Ronaldo – part of a ramshackle wall that jumped over Oliveira’s long-range free-kick to allow it to trickle in.
Adrien Rabiot grabbed a consolation header late on, but the Portuguese side advance to the quarter-finals by virtue of away goals as the aggregate score ended 4-4.
Liverpool’s No. 16 was useful as Porto fought for the win, finishing the game having won more aerial duels than any player in Conceicao’s side (three) and catching the eye with a moment of pure snide as he tangled with Adrien Rabiot:
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 9, 2021
It would be typical if, provided they progress, Liverpool are drawn against Porto in the quarter-finals, having met them twice in the last three seasons of the Champions League.
If they do face off, Grujic could up against his parent club, though given he has only started 10 of his 27 appearances so far this season it is unlikely he would be heavily relied upon.
Elsewhere on Tuesday night, Harvey Elliott played the final 20 minutes as Blackburn held Swansea to a 1-1 draw in the Championship, while Liam Millar played the full 90 in Charlton’s 2-1 victory over Northampton.
Adam Lewis came off the bench midway through the second half as Plymouth hosted Wigan, but could do little to influence the game as the Devonshire club fell to a 2-0 loss.
Liverpool Loan Watch Roundup
- Marko Grujic (Porto) – 30 mins vs. Juventus
- Harvey Elliott (Blackburn) – 20 mins vs. Swansea
- Liam Millar (Charlton) – 90 mins vs. Northampton
- Adam Lewis (Plymouth) – 23 mins vs. Wigan
To play Wednesday/Thursday: Takumi Minamino, Kamil Grabara