Porto must be proud despite Champions League exit - Oliveira

By Sports Desk April 13, 2021

Sergio Oliveira described Porto's Champions League exit at the hands of Chelsea as "frustrating and sad", but said they must be "proud of our journey".

Mehdi Taremi's stunning acrobatic stoppage-time volley proved to be too little, too late as Porto could only beat the Blues 1-0 at Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan on Tuesday.

A 2-0 victory in the first leg at the same ground in Seville ensured it was Thomas Tuchel's side who progressed to the semi-finals.

Porto showed no shortage of endeavour, but lacked ideas in the final third until substitute Taremi's sublime strike in the closing stages of the second leg.

The Primeira Liga champions could only muster two shots on target against a well-organised Chelsea side and midfielder Oliveira was left to rue their first-leg lapses.

He told TVI: "It's frustrating and sad, but it's football. We must be proud of our journey. Even in this tie, we had many moments when we were superior to Chelsea.

"We were penalised for two moments of a lack of attention, but it is part of football. These were team mistakes, not individual ones. The Champions League is over, now we have the [Primeira Liga] championship, which is our main goal."

Oliveira had no complaints over the way Chelsea set about finishing off the job.

He added: "With the advantage of two goals, I think Chelsea came to manage us. They wanted to calm down the tempo and our intensity. If we were two goals ahead, I think we would have done the same.

"Unfortunately we scored close to the end. Our aim was to score the first goal as quickly as possible, unfortunately we were unable to do that."

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    Jurgen Klopp put the Premier League and Europe's elite on notice when he warned Mohamed Salah's best years at Liverpool are still to come.

    Superstar forward Salah has ended speculation about his short-term future by signing a three-year contract with the Reds, news that manager Klopp said "makes me smile thinking about it".

    It means there is no danger of the Egyptian walking away as a free agent at the end of the 2022-23 season, and with the deal agreed before the start of the new campaign, there should be no more distractions when it comes to the 30-year-old's future.

    Salah has had five successful seasons at Anfield already, helping Liverpool win the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, EFL Cup, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup. Inevitably, this had drawn admiring glances from the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona.

    His arrival from Roma has been one of the best pieces of business during Klopp's reign, and now Salah is staying around to spearhead the push for more success.

    Klopp said he was "really pleased – really, really pleased", adding: "It's the best decision for us and best decision for him. He belongs with us, I think. This is his club now.

    "I have no doubt Mo's best years are still to come. And that's saying something, because the first five seasons here have been the stuff of legend."

    Speaking to Liverpool's official website, Klopp raved about the physical power of Salah, an often overlooked aspect of his game. His silky skills and finishing prowess grab the focus, with Salah scoring 31 goals and adding 15 assists in 51 games last season.

    However, Klopp said: "Fitness-wise, he's a machine – in the most incredible shape. He works hard on it, and he gets his rewards. His ability and his skill level gets higher each season, and his decision-making has gone to another level also.

    "He is adored by his team-mates. As coaches, we know we work with someone special. And the supporters have crowned him a king. So, very cool.

    "It is just great news. It makes me smile thinking about it. He stays with us for longer, and it means we can achieve more together."

    Liverpool fell agonisingly short of an unprecedented quadruple last season, winning the FA Cup and EFL Cup before losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final and being denied the Premier League title by Manchester City on a dramatic final day of that campaign.

    All the time, doubts lingered over whether Salah would make a long-term commitment to Liverpool, or whether he might soon move on.

    "Of course it has taken a little time," said Klopp, "but that's absolutely okay, and the best things are always worth waiting for anyway.

    "Mo is one of the best players in the world; it's only normal there are things to sort when you are at his level."

    Klopp said sporting director Julian Ward and Fenway Sports Group president Mike Gordon deserved "big credit" for getting the deal over the line.

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    The 30-year-old has made 254 appearances for the Reds in total, 235 of those being starts, and has scored 156 goals while assisting 58 more.

    Those 156 goals rank him ninth on the list of Liverpool's record scorers, with considerable ground to make up on Ian Rush at the top of that list with 346 goals.


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    With 164 direct goal involvements in the Premier League, Salah trails only Steven Gerrard (212) among Reds players in the competition in that regard.

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    Kylian Mbappe, seen by many as the most desirable player in world football, is fourth on that list on 163 goal involvements, while Ciro Immobile is fifth with 159.


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    Salah has scored 118 goals for Liverpool in the Premier League alone, which is 13 more than next-best Harry Kane among all clubs since the start of the 2017-18 season.

    Those strikes have helped Salah to three Golden Boot awards – only Arsenal legend Thierry Henry (4) has finished top of the competition's scoring charts more often.

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    Salah's output has been consistent across his five years at Anfield, starting between 45 and 49 games a season and registering double figures for assists in all but one of those campaigns.

    He has remained a prolific scorer throughout, with a high of 44 goals in the 2017-18 season and a low – but still respectable – 23 in the 2019-20 campaign. The latter was the season when Liverpool won the Premier League.

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    Uncertainty over the Egyptian forward's future had lingered for months, with no clear sign of a breakthrough in negotiations between the club and the player's representatives until a deal was announced on Friday.

    With Sadio Mane being allowed to leave for Bayern Munich since the end of last season, the importance of securing Salah was ramped up, and now the 30-year-old has confirmed he will stay at Anfield.

    He could have walked away at the end of the 2022-23 season on a free transfer, had he not agreed to new terms, but that worrying prospect has been quashed.

    With at least three years more to come of his Anfield career, Salah is convinced he and Liverpool can enjoy huge success in that time.

    They threatened a quadruple last term before just missing out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race and losing 1-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final, having already pouched the FA Cup and EFL Cup.

    Salah said of his new deal: "It takes a little bit of time, I think, to renew, but now everything is done so we just need to focus on what’s next.

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    "I think we are in a good position to fight for everything. We have new signings as well. We just need to keep working hard, have a good vision, be positive and go for everything again."

    In an interview for Liverpool's official website, Salah spoke of the departure of Mane to the Bundesliga and the arrival of Uruguayan frontman Darwin Nunez from Benfica, as manager Jurgen Klopp shuffles his pack.

    "I'm so excited, I want to play with him," Salah said of Nunez. "He had a good season last season and played well against us home and away [in the Champions League].

    "Sadio's leaving, and I'm going to miss him, he had great seasons with the club, so I wish him all the best, and I wish Darwin also all the best to score many goals for us."

    Salah had a stellar 2021-22 campaign, finishing level with Tottenham's Son Heung-min in the race to be the Premier League's top scorer, while also managing the most assists in the competition, racking up 13 to finish one ahead of team-mate Trent Alexander-Arnold.

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