Roberto Firmino was the catalyst as Liverpool came from a goal down to beat Newcastle United 3-1 at Anfield, with Sadio Mane netting a brace.
Liverpool got off to the worst possible start as Jetro Willems put Newcastle United ahead with a scintillating, driven right-footed strike from the edge of the box. Thereafter, the Magpies barely saw any action on the ball, with Liverpool dominating possession.
The equaliser finally came in the 28th minute, when Sadio Mane produced a composed finish after being teed up by Andrew Robertson. The Reds were forced into a forced change, when Divock Origi pulled up with an ankle injury. But, his replacement, Roberto Firmino would completely transform Liverpool upon his introduction.
The Brazilian set Mane up for his and Liverpool’s second goal of the game before completing the win midway through the second half when his flick sent Mohamed Salah through on goal. Firmino, otherwise, was a constant threat as well with his nimble footwork and deft touches.
With the 3-1 win in the bag, Liverpool continued their perfect start to the season and have now opened up a five-point lead atop the Premier League table following Manchester City’s shock 3-2 loss at Norwich City on Saturday evening. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men following a solid performance.
Adrian barely had anything to do on the day, with Liverpool dominating possession pretty much all through the game. Jetro Willems’s driven strike was simply too ferocious to be stopped and the Spaniard could not have done much to deny the Newcastle left-back.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10
A disappointing outing for Alexander-Arnold. As is usually the case with the Englishman, he struggled defensively and was at fault for letting Willems have enough time to give Newcastle the lead. Carried a lot of threat going forward and was denied a goal by the resolute Martin Dubravka. Needs to put in a lot of work on his defensive output, however.
Joel Matip: 7/10
Matip did not have much to do on the defensive front, with Newcastle failing to put Liverpool under pressure following Willems’s goal. Played an influential role in his side’s winner, teaming up with Firmino to harry Christian Atsu before Mane netted the goal. Deserved to be rewarded with a penalty when pulled inside the Newcastle, with VAR inexplicably not intervening.
Virgil van Dijk: 7/10
A typical outing for van Dijk, who organised his team’s defence after a hairy start to the game. Had the measure of Joelinton expertly and distributed the ball precisely from the back, as always. Donning the armband in the absence of Jordan Henderson, the Dutchman revelled in the added responsibility once again.
Andrew Robertson: 8/10
Robertson produced a vintage performance, which should help him kick-start his season after a rather slow start in the first month. Exudes a lot of calmness going forward, which was evident when he controlled the ball smartly before passing it on to Mane for the equaliser. Almost had a goal for himself as well, only to be thwarted by Dubravka.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup for the first time since the Southampton game, Oxlade-Chamberlain produced the kind of display which will fill Klopp with a lot of confidence.
Quietly effective all throughout his time on the pitch, the Englishman stitched together quick passes while also doing a lot of legwork off the ball. Slowly, but surely, getting back to his best. Needs to improve decision making, though.
Liverpool’s resident holding midfielder was in his elements all afternoon. The Brazilian was present to recover the ball whenever Newcastle looked to release the pressure by moving forward. Key in ensuring the hosts controlled the game following Willems’s opener. A vital cog in Klopp’s well-oiled machine.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 7/10
Wijnaldum was in cruise control for much of the match, doing whatever was necessary to support the indomitable trio of Firmino, Mane and Salah. Bar a couple of sloppy moments, it was a thoroughly professional display from the Dutchman, who nearly scored a wonder goal as well.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
Salah did not have the brightest of starts to the game even as Liverpool dominated the proceedings. In fact, for the first hour or so, the Egyptian stood out for his work-rate more than the danger he created on the ball. But, he combined marvellously with Firmino for his goal, and despite the clever flick, he still had quite a bit of work to do, which he did before netting his fourth goal of the season.
Sadio Mane: 9/10
Mane was always going to be the man under the spotlight following his lashing out two weeks ago as well as the unfounded reports of a rift with Salah. Right from the get-go, the Senegalese forward was on the money and carried the biggest threat for Liverpool around the Newcastle box.
The finish for his first goal was simply exquisite curling the ball into the top right corner without much of a backlift. Showed tremendous awareness to tap the ball for his second after Dubravka spilled it. On another day, he could have had a hat-trick, but it wasn’t to be for Mane.
Divock Origi: 6/10
Picked in place of Firmino, who had returned late from international duty with Brazil. The Belgian was anonymous for the first half-an-hour before being taken off due to an ankle injury. The forced substitution was a blessing in disguise, as Firmino ended up turning the tide in Liverpool’s favour.
Roberto Firmino: 10/10
Brought on earlier than anticipated, Firmino made good use of the extra time he got on the pitch, creating a game-high five chances – simply stunning for a player who did not start the game. Did what he does best for his side’s second, hustling the opposition player off the ball before sending Mane through on goal.
“The guy who sacrifices himself is Firmino. The guy who works for the team, who works for everybody and gets them to shine. This piece of the jigsaw is always very difficult to find: a striker who is generous.”
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS) September 14, 2019
The assist for Salah’s goal was even better, as a cheeky, but intelligent, flick sliced the Newcastle defence wide open and sent the Egyptian into a wide open space. In between, Firmino displayed an array of deft touches and clever dinks that could have earned him even more assists.
The conductor who makes Salah and Mane tick, Firmino, as the fans put it best, is the system for Liverpool. Simply perfect on the day.
James Milner: 6/10
On for the final 15 minutes, Milner kept things simple and helped see the game out.
Xherdan Shaqiri: N/A
Given the last 10 minutes, Shaqiri barely had any time to make an impact.