Liverpool 3 Newcastle United 1
- Andre Marriner
Newcastle United’s Anfield hoodoo continued as Liverpool fought back from a goal down early on to record a comfortable victory.
The Magpies – without a win against the Reds on their own turf since 1994 – got off to a remarkable start by drawing first blood through Jetro Willems, who thumped the ball past Adrián from the edge of the penalty area before wheeling off in celebration in front of a jubilant away end.
Last season’s Champions League winners took a bit of time to get into their stride, but turned the game on its head before the break thanks to Sadio Mané’s brace – the first a rasping strike in its own right, the second a rather more scrappy one.
The Magpies showed a couple of moments of promise after the interval and weren’t completely out of it until the 72nd minute, when Mo Salah found the far corner after breaching the visitors’ backline.
As might have been expected, Liverpool enjoyed the lion’s share of possession early on. But, with their first attack, it was United who took the lead. With Willems having made a lung-busting run down the left, Christian Atsu – on the ball in the middle of the Reds’ half – appeared to be waiting for further support to arrive but was, in the end, left with little option but to play the Dutchman through. The Magpies’ summer loan signing had it all to do, but calmly checked inside before letting fly with a stunning right-footed drive which smacked into the top corner and stunned the Anfield crowd.
The Reds – unbeaten in the Premier League on home soil since April 2017 – appeared just as shocked to begin with, and took their time to respond. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drilled a shot wide from range, but it wasn’t until the midpoint of the first half that Jürgen Klopp’s side started to build any sort of momentum in the attacking third. Divock Origi nodded wide from a promising position after meeting a Mané delivery, before Paul Dummett produced a vital block to divert Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross out for a corner. With 28 minutes on the clock, though, parity was restored, as Mané picked up Andrew Robertson’s pass before stylishly bending the ball beyond a helpless Martin Dúbravka.
From that point on, Liverpool started to get on top. United looked like they needed half time to come, but any hopes they had of heading into the interval on level terms were dashed when Mané struck for a second time. The Reds’ Senegalese attacker latched onto substitute Roberto Firmino’s threaded pass but seemingly looked set to lose out to Dúbravka. However, the Magpies’ stopper failed to keep hold of the ball after racing off his line, leaving Mané with a tap in from two yards out.
After avoiding further damage before the break, Newcastle started brightly in the second half and would likely have tested Adrián had either Miguel Almirón or Joelinton taken aim on the edge of the penalty area. Instead, the latter worked the ball wide for Emil Krafth, who saw a goalbound effort blocked. The Reds promptly countered and, after superb hold-up play from Mané, ex-Magpie Gini Wijnaldum looped a shot onto the roof of the net.
Krafth had another sight of goal on 55 minutes after Atsu – who had given the ball away in the run-up to Liverpool’s second – did superbly to dig out a cross from the left. The Swede ghosted into the penalty area unchallenged but appeared to lose his composure at the vital moment and blazed wildly over the top.
Reminded that the game was far from over, the Reds started to probe again. Firmino twice came close – nodding Alexander-Arnold’s ball at Dúbravka from a tight angle before testing the United ‘keeper for a second time with a low strike. In between, a deflected Robertson cross squirmed past the far post with half of Anfield having already started to celebrate.
A clinching goal was not long in coming, though. It was Salah who provided it, bursting past Fabian Schär and into the Newcastle area before picking out the far corner with pinpoint accuracy.
Alexander-Arnold nearly notched a fourth for Liverpool after a scramble inside the United box, while Mané was denied his hat-trick late on after Firmino strayed into an offside position.