Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle: Salah and Mane hand the Reds another home win

Dan Steeden in Editorial, English Premier League 3 Mar 2018

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High-flying and high-scoring Liverpool welcomed struggling Newcastle to Anfield for a fixture that has historically featured a lot of goals. The Reds needed a positive result from this game to keep pace with their top four rivals, while the Magpies were keen to grab an unlikely win to put some distance between themselves and the relegation zone. Both teams had a lot to play for and it promised to be an electric encounter.

A cagey start to a high-profile encounter 

Liverpool have been in scintillating for this season and they unsurprisingly started this game with their usual gusto. Jurgen Klopp’s men settled into the lion’s share of the possession early on, knocking the ball around with confidence and speed to open up spaces behind Newcastle’s compact defensive front. They had a lot of success in the early exchanges down the left flank, with fullback Andy Robertson getting forward at every available opportunity.

Despite their dominance, Liverpool actually struggled to create much penetration, but Mohamed Salah did have a great chance to grab an opener. A Robertson cross found the Egyptian in space, but an exceptional block by Paul Dummett denied Salah his 24th Premier League goal of the season.

With Newcastle sitting deep and maintaining a decent shape, the Reds were forced to take a patient approach when it came to attacking, and their surgeon-like approach looked as if it could open the Magpies up at any moment. Salah was unsurprisingly the main man pulling the strings for the home side, and the winger saw a huge amount of the ball in the opening 20 minutes.

Salah grabs the opener on the stroke of half time

The tempo of the game slowed as Klopp’s side gradually grew frustrated, and their passing was concentrated on sideways and backwards routes, rather than forwards and into the faces of the Newcastle defenders. The lack of notable chances did little to dampen the mood inside Anfield however as the Liverpool fans remained in good voice, urging their side on, and Dejan Lovren almost gave them something to cheer. The defender had a free header at the back post from a Salah corner, but his downwards headed effort was cleared off the line brilliantly by Mikel Merino.

Every minute that went by with the score line at 0-0 was a blessing for Newcastle, and in truth the visitors had defended brilliantly to limit the space of Liverpool’s talented attackers. In an attacking sense however Rafa Benitez’s side offered very little, but the pace of DeAndre Yedlin down the right hand side did cause Andy Robertson some issues, though the American’s crossing was a little wayward.

In the end it was only a matter of time before Liverpool got their break and finally opened the scoring, and it came courtesy of who else but Mohamed Salah. A brilliant driving run forward by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scythed open the Magpies defence, and the midfielder slipped a neat through ball in to Salah, who finished coolly past Martin Dubravka. The goal was welcomed with a sign of relied from the Anfield faithful, and handed the Reds a valuable lead heading into the break.

Mane doubles Liverpool’s advantage 

Finding themselves 1-0 down at the break, Newcastle headed out for the second period knowing that they needed to attack Liverpool to get back into the game, a tactic that risked allowing the home side to play on the break. There were numerous opportunities in the opening minutes of the second half which came from Salah, Mane and Firmino breaking with pace into the Magpies’ half, and in truth the visitors were lucky to get away with playing their more aggressive style.

It wasn’t long before Liverpool settled back into control of the possession and the game. The tempo of the second period was much more frantic than it had been in the first half, perhaps owing to the late goal, and both sides seemed keen to grab the next goal to help decide the outcome.

Liverpool were the beneficiaries of the fast-paced nature of the game, and Sadio Mane, who had been surprisingly quiet for much of the game, grabbed the Reds’ second goal. This time it was Roberto Firmino who drove through the heart of the Newcastle side, and his through ball evaded two defenders to find Mane. The Senegalese international shifted it onto his right foot before finishing emphatically into the bottom corner of the net, leaving the diving Dubravka no chance. It was another excellently worked team goal, and one that looked to have given the home side another three points.

The Reds cruise to a simple victory

The second goal seemed to kill the game and the tempo slowed right down, indicating that Liverpool were both comfortable and confident with their advantage. The Reds knocked the ball around in the midfield areas without being pressed much by the visitors, and while they continued to probe for a third goal, there was a lot less conviction than there had been earlier in the match.

To their credit however Newcastle did attempt to stage a comeback, but they struggled to break down Liverpool’s improved back line, and Virgil van Dijk in particular was imperious, winning everything in the air during the closing minutes. As the Magpies attempted to find a way back into the game the Reds continued to look dangerous on the break, but in the end the two sides seemed to settle for the 2-0 score line, meaning Liverpool continued their run of excellent form. 

Final Thoughts 

It took them 40 minutes to break the deadlock, but this ended up being another routine victory for Liverpool, and yet another match in which Mohamed Salah scored. The Reds are in stunning form, and their claim for a top four spot looks incredibly strong, but they will face an interesting trip to Old Trafford next weekend for a crucial game at this stage in the campaign.

Newcastle’s game plan of frustrating Liverpool lasted a fair while, but the moment they went 1-0 down the Magpies looked to have run out of ideas. That has been a trend for Rafa Benitez’s side this season, and they could face a tough relegation battle in order to secure Premier League football for next season.

Match Report

Liverpool: Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain (Milner, 79’), Henderson, Can; Salah, Firmino (Matip, 88’), Mane (Lallana, 74’) 

Newcastle: Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett; Atsu, Merino (Hayden, 73’), Diame; Kenedy, Murphy (Perez, 84’), Gayle (Joselu, 66’) 

Goals: Salah (1-0, 40’), Mane (2-0, 55’) 

Referee: Graham Scott

Yellow Cards: None 

Red Cards: None 

Player Ratings 

Liverpool: Karius 8; Alexander-Arnold 7, Lovren 8, Van Dijk 8, Robertson 8; Oxlade-Chamberlain 8 (Milner n/a), Henderson 7.5, Can 8; Salah 8, Firmino 8.5 (Matip n/a), Mane 8 (Lallana n/a) 

Newcastle: Dubravka 7; Yedlin 6, Lascelles 6, Lejeune 7, Dummett 7; Atsu 5, Merino 6 (Hayden n/a), Diame 6; Kenedy 6, Murphy 5 (Perez n/a), Gayle 5.5 (Joselu n/a)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Steeden


Dan is a recent graduate of the University of Birmingham and an often frustrated Wigan Athletic fan. When not despairing at events unfolding at the DW Stadium he can be found fangirling over Antoine Griezmann or staying up into the early hours of the morning to cheer on the Seattle Seahawks.

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