Football

Liverpool defender Robertson counting on Salah, Firmino

Liverpool defender Robertson says in-form duo are key to team's Champions League hopes

Liverpool's Champions League ambitions will rest on the shoulders of hotshots Mohamad Salah and Roberto Firmino, fullback Andrew Robertson said ahead of the Reds' clash with Porto in the Round-of-16 first leg tomorrow morning (Singapore time).

The pair are heading into the encounter at Estadio do Dragao in fine form, having just set each other up for a goal in the 2-0 win over Southampton on Sunday.

It was Salah's 29th goal this season, with six of them coming in European competition, while Firmino's 20 goals include seven in the Champions League.

LAST 16, 1ST LEG
FC PORTO LIVERPOOL

Robertson is hoping the duo continue to fire away in the knockout rounds.

Asked if they are key to Liverpool's chances in Europe's elite club competition, he told the Belfast Telegraph: "Of course. Mo's come in and got 22 (league) goals. Bobby's got his 20th.

"They're the ones putting us in front. From game to game, it'll always change, but they're the ones getting the chances, and luckily they're taking them.

"They do some sensational stuff in training, but you've seen the best of them out on the pitch. They're doing it week in, week out and when one of them is struggling, the other one pops up, or the other two will pop up.

"We need to keep going and they need to keep scoring for us, and as a team, we just need to keep keeping clean sheets.

"Loris (Karius) made some great saves that kept us going, and he was a big help. Everyone can make a difference.

"It's about the Champions League and it's about progressing in that, but also cementing our place in the top four, because we want to be in the Champions League every year.

"We've got two big aims now that we're out of the FA Cup, which is a disappointment, but we've got these two big aims to go for until the end of the season and that's what will drive us forward.

"We've got a wee bit of momentum going again and we need to keep that going until the end of the season, because nothing is achieved at this point."

Apart from Salah and Firmino, Karius is also the subject of a hot debate ahead of the Porto game.

Reports in the UK have suggested that the 24-year-old German will start the match, meaning former No. 1 Simon Mignolet's days may be numbered at Anfield.

The Belgian has not played an English Premier League or Champions League fixture since Liverpool's 2-1 win over Burnley on New Year's Day.

In the first half of the season, Mignolet was handed mostly EPL duties, while Karius took his place in European games.

But Karius has appeared to move up the pecking order in manager Juergen Klopp's plans, starting in the club's last five EPL fixtures. During this period, Liverpool won thrice and kept two clean sheets, reported Reuters.

Karius told the Telegraph that the run of games was the reason behind his improved performances.

He said: "I am feeling good and getting consistent game time helps a lot.

"In the last few games, I have had more stuff to do and I have been able to make some saves, which gives you more confidence.

"...I have had a lot of experience but it definitely helps when you play regularly instead of coming in and out of the team."

Meanwhile, midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has warned his teammates against complacency against Porto, whose progress in the competition is expected to end at the hands of Liverpool.

He strongly believes that it is ludicrous to expect the Reds to settle the tie by the end of the first 90 minutes.

The Holland international told Liverpoolfc.com: "The game will not be decided in one leg, it's over two legs... You can see with other games and other clubs that strange things can happen.

"Last season, PSG against Barcelona - everybody already thought that Barcelona was out (after the first leg) but they still changed it.

"So, I think the most important thing is to have a good result for the next game."

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