|Saturday 31st July 2004
Skydome, Toronto, Canada
LIVERPOOL 0-1 FC PORTO
|Benitez record: Played 3 Won 2 Lost 1|
|MATCH REPORT - Liverpool 0-1 FC Porto|
Carlos Alberto 85
Rafael Benitez's winning start as Liverpool manager came to an end in the Skydome but they far from disgraced themselves against the European champions.
Following on from their 5-1 defeat of Celtic in Hartford, the Anfield side again looked a far more organised and dangerous outfit under the Spaniard's command and should be much closer to honours come the end of next season.
They have drawn AK Graz in the third round qualifying stages of the Champions League as they start in a competition conquered by Porto just over two months ago.
Porto showed they had not lost any of their quality under new coach Luigi del Neri following the departure of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea.
Liverpool, with Djibril Cisse starting alongside Michael Owen in attack after his impressive double against Celtic, started brightly and the England international should have scored after just one minute after finding himself clean through on goal.
The Porto defence, who looked shaky with the exit of Ricardo Carvalho to Chelsea, stood and watched as Danny Murphy curled an inviting free-kick into the area, after Pepe had bundled down Steven Gerrard, but he headed straight at Vitor Baia.
The England striker should have done better again in the sixth minute after being picked out brilliantly by strike partner Cisse.
The £14million man skinned two defenders and clipped the ball back into the danger area from the byline but with Porto again caught short Owen headed high over the bar.
Porto eventually woke up in the 11th minute and recaptured some of the magic which took them to the European Cup last season when Ricardo Quaresma left youngster Zak Whitbread for dead with a deft piece of skill before crashing a left-foot shot against the crossbar.
The young American defender made amends moments later, though. He cut out the ball to prevent Benni McCarthy a chance to open the scoring.
At the other end Cisse was causing all kinds of problems with his pace and after being cut down, Murphy picked out Gerrard but he wasted the header.
Murphy was looking a reborn player under Benitez and he picked out Cisse with a great crossfield pass but the Frenchman was stretching as he fired wide.
Liverpool somehow survived in the 29th minute after Quaresma's shot against the post sparked goalmouth scramble but Porto could not turn the ball in.
The Portuguese side have angered Manchester United and Celtic in the past with play-acting.
And in the 31st minute Derlei rolled around the ground over dramatically after an innocuous challenge from Dietmar Hamann which earned the German a booking.
But Porto did not need to resort to these tactics and they were unfortunate not to go ahead when McCarthy brushed Whitbread off the ball and blasted at Jerzy Dudek.
Both managers made changes at the break and Benitez swapped Owen and Cisse for Milan Baros and Florent Sinama-Pongolle in attack.
But it was the Portuguese side who threatened first when Quaresma forced his way through and Dudek did well to save low to his left.
Pepe tumbled and rolled numerous times after a challenge by Pongolle in the 57th minute.
Liverpool were beginning to be lured into the Porto trap as Kewell lost his rag but missed with a petulant kick out at an opponent.
Baros went close on the 62nd minute when another great Murphy delivery picked him out and he headed just past the upright.
Kewell was cut down again by Pepe in a running battle and he was rightly booked before Baros' shot was comfortably saved by Baia.
In the 72nd minute, Pongolle earned a yellow card for lashing out at Rossato, who went down clutching his face even though no contact was made.
But Porto showed that they could play as well and they took the lead with just five minutes remaining.
The Liverpool defence were stretched as Areias' cross was allowed to come to Carlos Alberto at the back post and he had the easiest of tap-ins with Dudek exposed.
The English side did not deserve that and Baia summed up their night with a great save from Whitbread in the final minute.
LIVERPOOL (4-4-2): Dudek; Carragher, Hyypia, Whitbread, Warnock (Henchoz 46); Gerrard (Biscan 46), Murphy (Diao 66), Hamann (Finnan 46), Riise (Kewell 46); Cisse (Baros 46), Owen (Sinama-Pongolle 46). Sub: Kirkland. BOOKED: Hamann (foul),
PORTO (4-4-2): Baia (Nuno 46); Valente, R Costa (J Costa 70), Pepe, Emanuel (Areias 61); Quaresma (Alberto 65), Peixoto, Rossato, Bosingwa; Derlei (Almeida 65), McCarthy. BOOKED: Quaresma (dissent), Alberto (foul)
REFEREE: Silviu Petrescu (Canada)
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|Match Report filed: 6th August 2004|