A clinically taken brace from Sadio Mané erased an early deficit to keep the Reds’ perfect Premier League record intact with a 3-1 win over Newcastle.
Willems (Atsu) 7′
Mané (Robertson) 28′
Salah (Firmino) 72′
An unexpected start
Jürgen Klopp was asked about his side’s imperious record at Anfield in recent years during his pre-match press conference on Friday. Steve Bruce’s Newcastle were quick to put that record to the test.
With just seven minutes on the clock, Christian Atsu took down a ball over the top and fed Jetro Willems on the edge of the Liverpool box. The Dutch wingback danced the ball neatly onto his weaker right foot before firing an absolute missile past Adrian to give the visitors the lead.Embed from Getty Images
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – making his first league start of the season – tried to respond from distance shortly thereafter, but his well-struck effort fizzed wide of Martin Dúbravka’s right post.
Liverpool struggled to impose themselves on the game early on, despite having the bulk of the possession. Newcastle kept the same rigid, well-drilled shape they displayed in stifling Tottenham before the international break, and the Reds looked a bit starved for creativity at times.
Divock Origi failed to connect on a pair of headers in quick succession as the Reds managed to find some space in the wide areas.
The hosts then had a penalty shout waved away after Jamaal Lascelles appeared to impede Joel Matip off the first of a succession of Liverpool corners.
Mané managed to earn the breakthrough on 28 minutes after some tidy technical work from Andrew Robertson. The Scot took a pass in full stride and deftly glided past his man before laying off for Mané, who took one touch to settle before curling into the far corner past Dúbravka.Embed from Getty Images
With the Reds pressing for a go-ahead marker, Origi went to ground in the box with what appeared to be a recurrence of an earlier injury. Roberto Firmino, fresh off 150 minutes across two games for Brazil, stripped down to replace him on 37 minutes.
The Brazilian’s first contribution was a telling one, robbing Atsu in the middle third before sliding a through-ball in for Mané. Dúbravka appeared to have the better odds, but fluffed his lines and played the ball against Mané, who finished into an open net to give the Reds a 2-1 lead on 40 minutes.
They would take the advantage into the half.
A comfortable finish
With the onus on Newcastle to open things up, Liverpool looked to exploit the space and extend their lead to start the second half.
Georginio Wijnaldum almost managed to net a third for Liverpool just three minutes after the restart. The former Newcastle man tried a lovely chip over Dúbravka but just caught the roof of the net instead.
Emil Krafth had a golden opportunity to level things after he latched onto a looping cross at the back post, but Virgil van Dijk was quick to close down after a poor first touch from the Swede, who fired over from eight yards.
The Reds began to pile pressure on Dúbravka’s box, with the Newcastle back five working tirelessly to keep the deficit at one. Both Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold had efforts narrowly kept out by the Slovak while Virgil van Dijk had a headed effort cleared off the line.Embed from Getty Images
Bruce brought on Javier Manquillo and Yoshinori Muto on 67 minutes for Krafth and Miguel Almirón.
But minutes later, it was Firmino once again playing architect, this time playing a sublime return ball for Mohamed Salah on the edge of the Newcastle box, allowing the Egyptian the space to burst past the defense and slot cooly past Dúbravka for 3-1.
The teams exchanged substitutions in the final quarter hour, with James Milner replacing Oxlade-Chamberlain for Liverpool. Xherdan Shaqiri also got some minutes after replacing Wijnaldum late on.
The Swiss substitute fed a lovely pass to Firmino who squared up perfectly for a Mané tap in. However the flag rightly went up for Firmino’s offside position.
A well-deserved 3-1 victory makes for Liverpool’s fifth of the new season and they sit comfortably out of reach for another week.