Newcastle United travelled to Anfield for the lunch time kick off today in a game that finished 3-1 to the home side.
It had been the perfect start for Newcastle when Willems brilliantly cut onto his right foot to fire in from 15 yards from an angle, giving Adrain no chance in the Liverpool goal. But an equally good equaliser from Mane, followed by a tap in from the same player after a Dubravka error sent the home side in 2-1 up at half time.
Things could, perhaps, have been different should Krafth have buried a great chance at the start of the second half that would have put United back into the game at 2-2.
Instead Salah, getting onto the end of a fantastic pass from man-of-the-match Firmino, wrapped things up to give the home side a deserved win.
STARTING XI: Dubravka, Krafth (Manquillo, 66), Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Willems, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu, Almiron (Muto, 66), Joelinton
Bruce was once again without Saint-Maximin and Lejeune and had to add Sean Longstaff to that list after the player picked up an injury in training during the week. For the home side there was the continued absence of Alisson in goal with Adrian deputising once more. There would also be a rare starting birth for Origi and Oxlade-Chamerlain.
Newcastle had not won a league game at Anfield since 1994 under Kevin Keegan, and today was not going to dent that record despite United taking a shock early lead.
A solid start from United didn’t allow Liverpool much in the way of space going forward, and when a good ball to Atsu slotted in Willems on the left corner of the box Newcastle’s new left wing back cut back onto his right foot and hit a shot that almost took the net out. An absolute stunner to put the visitors 1-0 up on 8 minutes.
The goal wouldn’t change the flow of the game thought. Liverpool, as expected, dominating possession and United happy to play on the counter.
And whilst for more the 20 minutes Newcastle looked comfortable, the reds would start to turn the screw and it certainly felt like a goal was coming.
Liverpool should have had a penalty on 26 minutes when Lascelles clearly pulled Matip tot he floor in the box. But only moments later Liverpool did get their goal. Mane finding space in the left corner of the box before hitting a goal just as good as Willems strike past Dubravka.
Newcastle’s passing was starting to get wayward.
And when Atsu was put under pressure just inside his own half on the 39 minute mark he would gift the ball to Firmino who’s forward pass to Mane looked too long. Inexplicably, Dubravka slid out knee first with the ball bouncing off Mane and into he forwards path for him to tap home to put Liverpool into the lead.
Half time couldn’t come quick enough with the Magpies who would head down the tunnel 2-1 down.
To be fair to Bruce and his side, whilst Liverpool had dominated they hadn’t cerated much in the way of clear cut chances in the first half. Having to rely on a Dubravka mistake. The worry in the second half would be the lack of fluidity going forward and the frequency of misplaced passes.
Newcastle started well after the break, for 10 minutes of so anyway. And the visitors should have had themselves level in that spell but Krafth, who was at fault in the build up to the Liverpool opening goal, blazed over the bar when well placed.
Liverpool would seal the game on 72 minutes. Firmino, who was outstanding after coming on, with a beautiful back heel through to Salah who inevitably slotted home when inside the 6 yard box.
And it could and should have been more for the Reds and but for a string of good saves from Dubravka the winning margin would have been greater.
3-1 then the final score. Could have been worse, certainly could have been better.