Looking to secure their second Premier League win on the trot, Liverpool welcomed Newcastle United to Anfield for their matchday five clash on Wednesday night (August 31). The Reds, who bagged a massive 9-0 win over Bournemouth in their last outing, were thoroughly tested by the Magpies. Ultimately, their squad depth came to the rescue, with substitute Fabio Carvalho scoring a 98th-minute winner to seal a hard-fought 2-1 win for the hosts. Roberto Firmino scored the other goal for the Reds while Alexander Isak found the back of the net for Newcastle.
Liverpool carved out their first real opening of the game in the 34th minute, with Firmino playing Luis Diaz through. The Colombian cleverly took the ball around the keeper but lost his balance before he could get his shot away, resulting in a wayward effort. Four minutes later, Newcastle’s record signing Isak announced himself to the Premier League, coolly converting from Sean Longstaff’s through ball.
Ten minutes into the second half, Isak dashed into the Reds’ box, beat a couple of defenders, and found the back of the net. Unfortunately for the Swede, the flag was raised for offside. In the 60th minute, Harvey Elliott lodged Liverpool’s first shot on target. His effort was tame, but it was a clear sign of intent from the hosts. A minute later, Firmino wheeled away in celebration after finding the back of the net from inside the Newcastle box.
The Reds continued to pour men forward, but Newcastle resiliently held on. The stalemate was finally broken in the eighth minute of stoppage time when Carvalho emphatically converted from point blank range, sealing a 2-1 win for his side.
It was a mixed performance from Jurgen Klopp’s boys, where some players turned up while others cut a frustrating figure. Here are three Liverpool players who stepped up and two who disappointed in their victory over Eddie Howe’s side on Wednesday:
Performed: Harvey Elliott
Harvey Elliott was a force to be reckoned with against Newcastle United on Wednesday night. He was at the heart of almost every brilliant move by the Reds, pre-assisted Firmino’s goal (pass to Salah), and brushed challenges aside from the Magpies with unimaginable ease.
Against Newcastle, Elliott made a key pass, accurately delivered four long balls, won six ground duels, and drew two fouls. If the 19-year-old keeps this up, it won't take much time for him to become one of the first names on Klopp’s team sheet.
Underperformed: Jordan Henderson
Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson endured a difficult outing against Newcastle. He was often slow to react, failed to spot a few obvious passes, and played a part in the visitors’ opening goal in the first half. He stuck his foot out in an attempt to clear the ball. His maneuver did more harm than good as the ball went straight to Longstaff, who played Isak through with a perfectly weighted pass.
Before being subbed off in the 71st minute due to injury, Henderson lost two of four ground duels, ceded possession seven times, and misplaced a long ball. A nice lobbed through ball for Luis Diaz in the first half was the highlight of his game.
Performed: Roberto Firmino
With Darwin Nunez suspended and Diogo Jota out injured, Roberto Firmino was picked to fill the center-forward role on Wednesday night. The Brazilian, who bagged a brace in the Merseysiders’ previous Premier League outing, once again produced the goods, scoring the equalizer in the 61st minute. The goal was not extraordinary, but his close-range finish oozed confidence.
Firmino regularly dropped deep to combine with his teammates, created chances, and held his own in aerial duels. On Wednesday, Firmino made two key passes, attained 82.5% passing accuracy (33 accurate passes), won three aerial duels, and attempted a tackle.
Underperformed: Trent Alexander-Arnold
Trent Alexander-Arnold had a horrific game by his standards against the Magpies. His distribution was well off the mark, he lost possession rather frequently, and he was blunt going forward as well.
Before being taken off for match-winner Carvalho in the 71st minute, Alexander-Arnold lost possession a whopping 29 times and misplaced 10 of 11 crosses and seven of 11 attempted long balls. He also played a part in Newcastle's goal, with his wayward pass aiding the visitors in the build-up preceding Isak's strike.
Performed: Mohamed Salah
Last season, Mohamed Salah emerged as the Premier League’s joint-leading top scorer (23 goals) and top assist provider (13 assists). The Egypt international is yet to replicate his form from last season but took a couple of crucial steps in the right direction at Anfield on Wednesday. Salah’s frustration in front of goal continued, with him failing to lodge a single shot on target. However, he assisted both of Liverpool’s goals against Newcastle.
In the 61st minute, he brilliantly cut the ball back from the right for Firmino, who was waiting inside the box to finish it. Then, right at the death, Salah went for an aerial challenge following a corner kick delivery. The ball bounced off him and fell for Carvalho, who hammered it past Nick Pope.
In addition to the assists, Salah made six key passes, completed three dribbles, won five ground duels, and drew two fouls.