Liverpool recovered from going down to an early Newcastle goal to record an eventually comfortable 3-1 win at Anfield.
The Toon Army marched south and would have been delighted to see their side take a shock lead after just seven minutes, Jetro Willems showing nice skill before arrowing an unstoppable shot past Adrian.
The home side were back in it just before the half hour mark when Sadio Mane was given space in the box and hammered into the top corner. The same man made it 2-1 before the break, Roberto Firmino’s threaded pass was brilliant and Mane tapped in after his initial attempt was blocked.
Newcastle did not go quietly though, giving a good account of themselves and had some decent chances to level. Mohamed Salah – a peripheral figure prior to that – secured the points 18 minutes from time when he tucked in the Reds’ third.
Here’s how the home players rated:
Adrian 6: Helpless for Willems’ goal which was a thunderbolt. Otherwise had little to do even if his defenders were busy.
Trent Alexander-Arnold 7: Quiet in first half, maybe could have got a little tighter to Willems for goal. Got going after the break, deflected cross almost led to chance. Seven key passes highlighted his impact.
Joel Matip 8: Steady first half, lucky not to get booked early in second. Commanding in the air, winning an incredible 12 aerials. Three clearances – both team highs. Solid partnership forming with Van Dijk, Joe Gomez has some work to dislodge Cameroonian.
Virgil van Dijk 6: Erred in lead-up to opening goal, not getting tight to Atsu who brought down high ball and teed up Willems. Out of position for Krafth chance too but otherwise played on front foot, had three shots.
Andrew Robertson 5: Assist for Mane’s first will be one of the simplest of his career. Where was he for Krafth chance? Four dribbles led side. His poked shot somehow crept wide.
Fabinho 5: How did VAR not deem foul on him by Lascelles a penalty? Aimless pass across the pitch almost allowed visitors a second goal. Defensively astute.
Georginio Wijnaldum 6: Rusty in first half against his old side but much improved in second, cute chip landed on roof of the net rather than in it. Led those in red who didn’t come on or off with impressive 96.2 per cent pass rate.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 6: Busy and energetic as he continues to get back to full strength. Two dribbles was second most among team-mates.
Mohamed Salah 6: Neat and tidy in his build-up play but kind of on periphery of play, distribution far too casual. Better after break when he started and finished the move that killed the game.
Sadio Mane 7: Fresh from not being involved during international break and it showed with a crisp finish to draw Liverpool level. Alert to tuck in a second and generally a handful for Newcastle defence.
Divock Origi 5: Goalscoring chance taken off his head when Alexander-Arnold’s cross was flicked away by a defender. Succumbed to injury midway through first half.
Roberto Firmino 9: Came on and within three minutes had supplied a slide rule pass that led to Mane’s second. Energised his side. Back heel to Salah was devastating, almost had a third assist for Mane’s hat-trick but he was offside. Unplayable.
James Milner 6: Replaced fading Ox, 25 passes, 25 completed.
Xherdan Shaqiri N/A: No time to make any meaningful impact with game drifting.
Data preview of Liverpool’s Premier League clash with Newcastle United at Anfield on Saturday.
The last time the sides met in May, Liverpool won a five-goal thriller, 3-2, with Divock Origi scoring the winner in the 86th minute.
Watch the preview above:
Mohamed Salah must be less selfish in front of goal if he is to take his game to the next level, according to former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
Salah was the cause of Sadio Mane’s rage during Liverpool’s Premier League win over Burnley after the Egyptian twice failed to play him through when in on goal.
While Salah has drawn some feint comparisons to Barcelona icon Lionel Messi, Wenger believes it’s the one area of his game he’ll need to improve.
“He is similar to Messi. He must still find the consistency of Messi. I find him a just as good finisher but Messi is the complete thing – he gives the final ball as well and Salah is a bit obsessed now by finishing himself so that’s a dimension he’ll get certainly when he gets a little bit older,” Wenger said (h/t Goal.com)
“To find the moment when you have to give the ball and when you have to finish.
“I like him very much, he has huge potential.”
Salah and Mane make up 2/3 of Liverpool’s devastating front three attack but Wenger is adamant the key component is Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino.
“You forget the guy that sacrifices himself a little bit is Firmino,” he said.
“Like Luis Suarez did for Messi and Neymar. A guy that works for the team, that works for everybody and gets them to shine.
“This piece of the jigsaw is very hard to find – a striker that is generous.”