Liverpool strolled to victory over Newcastle in the Premier League’s early kick-off at Anfield today to maintain their perfect league start.
A Sadio Mane brace, plus a wonderful team goal finished off by Mo Salah, saw the home side recover from an early Jetro Willems goal to eventually come out as 3-1 winners and earn 15 points from their first five Premier League games.
Steve Bruce’s side began well enough, but created very little throughout and struggled to match the home team for quality on a sunny afternoon on Merseyside. With Napoli to come in the Champions League this week, the only negative was an injury to striker Divock Origi in the first half.
Liverpool made two changes, bringing in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for Jordan Henderson and Origi for Roberto Firmino, the Brazilian having played for his country midweek in the United States against Peru.
Newcastle, meanwhile, made just the one change. Sean Longstaff picked up an injury, with Steve Bruce giving a starting berth to former Liverpool man Jonjo Shelvey.
The away side started their day brightly, looking dangerous on the break. They soaked up pressure and switched play quickly, bringing with it some early success, particularly from wide positions. It proved a fruitful tactic and ultimately led to them taking the lead.
Seven minutes in Christian Atsu brought down a long ball on the left hand side, before slipping in Willems down the channel. The Dutchman cut inside Trent Alexander-Arnold, before rifling the ball into the top right corner to stun the Anfield crowd and go 1-0 up.
Somewhat shellshocked, it took a while for Liverpool to warm up. For the next 20 minutes they pressed for an equaliser but without generating any quality chances. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain fired wide, and Origi went close with a header, but the visitors continued to defend resolutely.
There was, however, a growing sense of how long they could hold out, especially when they the home team were denied what looked a clear penalty when Jamal Lascelles hauled down Joel Matip in the box.
Immediately after that the pressure told and the home side drew level. Andy Robertson beat Emil Krafth on the left-hand side before cutting it back to Sadio Mane just inside the penalty area, the Liverpool man stroking the ball brilliantly into the top corner.
The goal deflated the Magpies, who retreated further and further back, struggling to retain possession and leaving Joelinton more and more abandoned up front.
Then, with 10 minutes of the half left, Firmino made an early entrance as Origi injured his ankle and was replaced by the Brazilian. He made an instant impact and proved to be the game’s star performer as he conducted Liverpool’s attacks from then on in.
50 - Mohamed Salah has been directly involved in 50 Premier League goals for Liverpool at Anfield, scoring 36 and providing 14 assists (41st appearance). Unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/skduO9qYTS
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 14, 2019
Pressing Atsu in the Newcastle half, he forced the Ghanaian to give the ball away. Firmino picked it up and slotted it through to Mane running in on goal. Newcastle stopper Martin Dubravka won the race to the ball but fumbled horribly, leaving Mane to tap into an empty net and give Liverpool the lead going into the break.
The second half started ominously for the away side and never really changed. The bright passing and movement from Klopp’s team boxed Newcastle in and Gini Wijnaldum went close with a well-improvised lob from the edge of the box early on.
A forceful run from Atsu down the left led to a glorious chance for Emil Krafth to level, however. The fullback bombed forward and got on the end of Atsu’s cross in acres of space, but blazed over the bar after failing to bring the ball down quickly enough. It was a poor chance to miss given the lack of possession that they had and proved to be their only opportunity to get back into a game in which they were way off the pace.
Firmino and Robertson both nearly extended Liverpool’s lead shortly after but Dubravka was equal to both efforts. Javi Manquillo and Yoshinori Muto came on for Krafth and Miguel Almiron as Bruce tried to inject some extra energy into his team, but the waves of Liverpool attacks persisted. A van Dijk header was cleared off the line but it was only delaying the inevitable.
Patient buildup, great movement and quick, intricate football led to Mo Salah picking up the ball on the right-hand side. He drove inside, played a wonderful one-two with Firmino and flicked the ball into the bottom right of the goal.
What a goal! 🙌
Stunning build-up play from Liverpool ends with an ice-cold finish from Mohamed Salah...
And that Roberto Firmino flick 😍 pic.twitter.com/o0yZsMPvvb
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 14, 2019
In truth, Adrian was a spectator in the Liverpool net during the second half. Newcastle’s only shot on target was their early goal and they struggled to get a frustrated-looking Joelintin involved in the game at any point.
Aside from a nervy few minutes when Willems looked to have the better of Alexander-Arnold, Klopp’s men were comfortable in victory and go into their game with Napoli midweek in brilliant form.
Having wanted to initially rest Firmino and limit his involvement, he was exceptional after his introduction. Creating two goals and linking up play wonderfully, he was the catalyst for a lively team performance that sees them keep a 100% start to their league campaign.
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