Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle
Premier League, Anfield
March 3, 2018
Salah 40′ (assist – Oxlade-Chamberlain)
Mane 55′ (assist – Firmino)
The Reds set out for another Anfield outing looking for their first win over former manager Rafa Benitez, with their Saturday evening kickoff demanding three points.
With top-four rivals Tottenham moving into third with a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town earlier in the day, Liverpool needed a victory to ensure they kept up the pace, moving back up to second.
As his side hold a comfortable five-goal lead over Porto ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 second-leg clash, Jurgen Klopp was able to make just two changes to his starting lineup for the weekend.
- Klopp makes two changes with three points in his sights
- Salah nets 32nd goal of the season to opening the scoring
- Mane doubles lead after excellent sweeping team move
- Liverpool seal first-ever victory in six games against Benitez
- Reds move up to second with Man United clash crucial
With Benitez conceding before the game that he had set his side up to soak up pressure and break on the counter, it was no surprise to see Liverpool in control in the early stages.
Mohamed Salah was bright throughout, drawing a brave block from Paul Dummett with an effort in the box and striking the post with a volley as a long ball dropped over his shoulder.
The Egyptian was the Reds’ conductor in the final third, and it was his corner that led to a pair of chances for Dejan Lovren, blocked first by Martin Dubravka and then Mikel Merino.
But with Liverpool keeping up their momentum, it was Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain whose drive into the final third that crafted the opener, laying the ball into the path of Salah who made light work of it for 1-0.
The second half began with a penalty call waved away by referee Graham Scott after the ball struck Jamaal Lascelles in the box, but it wasn’t long before Liverpool, had their second goal.
Likely with an eye on starting the Senegalese against Porto, Klopp withdrew Mane with just over 15 minutes to play, with Adam Lallana taking his place for a rare outing.
The Reds kept probing for a third goal, looking to take advantage of a more adventurous approach from Benitez in the closing stages, with Henderson seeing a rare effort blocked for a corner.
Klopp made his final change in the closing stages, bringing on Joel Matip in place of Firmino to tighten things up at the back as Liverpool saw out another priceless victory.
TIA Man of the Match: Sadio Mane
Referee: Graham Scott
Next Match: Porto (H) – Champions League Last 16 – March 6
* Additional reporting by ISNTV.