Liverpool caught by strike by late Joe Willock as Newcastle snatch point
Newcastle midfielder Joe Willock pulled away a 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield with a goal in added time.
An extra minute was added for a VAR decision that ruled out a Callum Wilson goal in the stoppage time and Willock, a man on loan from Arsenal, took full advantage.
The unconvincing performance did little for Reds boss Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of restoring the club’s battered reputation following the Super League controversy let alone their first four aspirations.
Mohamed Salah’s goal from their first shot on target was a class of its own as he succeeded where Robbie Fowler and Luis Suarez failed scoring 20 Premier League goals in one season for the third time.
The Egypt international now has 93 in 140 league appearances and has entered the club’s top 12 all-time scorers with 123 in 198 appearances.
Sadly, none of his previously prolific teammates have matched him as despite a largely passive Newcastle giving them plenty of opportunities, it was another grueling and disappointing afternoon ahead of empty Anfield.
With the clock showing 93 minutes, Liverpool looked good for a place in the top four when Wilson bagged the ball over the line only for VAR to settle the ricochet on his elbow, goalkeeper Alisson Becker was handball.
Their reprieve was short-lived but long enough that another replacement, Willock, returned home with the help of a Fabinho hijack to leave Klopp enraged at another missed opportunity.
Klopp admitted in his program notes that he struggled to see the club’s reputation ‘shattered’ in the wake of the Super League fallout when critics should have targeted John W Henry’s Fenway Sports Group squarely.
Around 150 supporters welcomed the arrival of the team coach, but only a fraction took the opportunity to protest, as the manager had asked them not to, with homemade banners that carried slogans such as ‘£ nough is £ nough FSG Out’ and ‘Henry, you have blood on your hands’.
Salah set out to restore their fallen status with a goal well taken after just three minutes, but, like other things this week, completing the job was considerably more difficult.
While his 20th strike of the season in the Premier League was, indeed, great, the subsequent finish was much less so.
The mess Salah made from a one-on-one with Martin Dubravka, choosing to go with the outside of his left foot rather than taking the ball around the goalkeeper to his right, belied the ease with which he had spun Matt Ritchie to break through at home. left foot after Ciaran Clark’s bad header on Sadio Mane’s cross.
But he was far from the most culpable with Mane and Diogo Jota, constituting a front four rarely seen with Roberto Firmino, as bad if not worse.
The 250th league goal scored at Anfield under Klopp should have seen the visitors overwhelmed by a flurry of chances – 11 in the opening 45 minutes – but a familiar story of missed opportunities and wasted finishing unfolded.
Jota was twice off-target with well-placed efforts as Mane appeared to suggest his first Premier League goal in three months at Elland Road on Monday was more of a fluke as he always seemed lacking in confidence, adding an extra touch to this which should have been a shot for the first time from the cross of Salah, the worst example of a number.
Newcastle barely left their 5-4-1 formation, but when Sean Longstaff broke out of midfield, played on play by Trent Alexander-Arnold, lagging behind, it took an intelligent Alisson Becker save and hack in a hurry from Ozan Kabak to keep. the hosts to come.
At the start of the second half, it was Joelinton’s turn to break the line twice only to be denied by the goalkeeper as Liverpool’s lead looked thinner and thinner.
Firmino, the only striker so far flawless because he had been unlucky, saw his near-post volley saved by Dubravka’s outstretched foot, but Liverpool’s performance after the break was so erratic that Klopp replaced Jota by midfielder James Milner, overtaking Peter Crouch for the most part. substitute appearances (159) in Premier League history.
Newcastle’s introduction of Wilson and Willock, the latter replacing Clark with Jonjo Shelvey falling in central defense, gave the visitors a new threat and with chances still on the other end of Salah, Alexander-Arnold, Mane and Milner, visitors stayed in the game much longer than they should have.
Long enough, in fact, for both surrogates to have a say.