Liverpool, United Kingdom, Sep 14 – Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool maintained their 100 percent start to the Premier League season by coming from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield on Saturday.
The European champions have a history of starting slowly in early kick-offs under Jurgen Klopp and only arose from their slumber after the Magpies took a shock lead through Jetro Willems on seven minutes.
Mane turned the tide before half-time with a sumptuous finish into the top corner before profiting from an error by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for his second.
Dubravka redeemed himself after the break with a string of fine saves to keep the final score down, but was helpless when Salah finished coolly from Roberto Firmino’s cute backheel.
Klopp’s men open up a five-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the table, but the champions can cut that gap back to two with victory at Norwich later on Saturday.
Newcastle sprung a huge surprise by claiming their only win of the season so far at Tottenham three weeks ago. They followed the same script as they frustrated the hosts in the early stages before stunning Anfield by going in front.
Willems turned inside Trent Alexander-Arnold before drilling a fierce shot past the helpless Adrian.
– ‘Need to start quicker’ –
“We didn’t start the game the way we wanted to and to be fair to Newcastle they started brightly and scored a hell of a goal,” said Liverpool defender Andy Robertson. “That gave us the wake-up call we needed and afterwards I think we kicked into gear and were too good for them.
“We need to be quicker getting back into our rhythm (after international breaks) or against teams in the top six we might struggle to get back into the game if we give away a goal.”
Liverpool trailed at home for the first time since March, but quickly rallied to record a 14th straight Premier League victory.
Mane was furious with Salah after being substituted in a 3-0 win away to Burnley before the international break, accusing the Egyptian of being too greedy in his eye for goal.
But Salah suggested any feud had been forgotten before kick-off by posting a doctored video with the two players’ faces superimposed onto a viral video of two boys hugging.
And Mane was certainly in a happier mood once he equalised by arrowing into the far corner from Robertson’s pass to get Liverpool back on level terms.
Firmino had been rested from the start after travelling to the United States with Brazil during the international break, but he was soon called into the action as Divock Origi limped off injured.
And he made an instant impact as his pass forward was spilled by Dubravka for Mane to roll into an empty net.
Liverpool had only one scare once they were in front as Emil Krafth blasted over a great chance to bring Newcastle level again at the back post.
However, it was only a matter of time before the Reds made the game safe as Dubravka saved brilliantly from Robertson and twice denied the excellent Firmino, who was named man-of-the-match despite only coming on eight minutes before half-time.
“We were relieved when he was on the bench but then he came on and made all the difference,” said Newcastle manager Steve Bruce.
“Liverpool were just incredible in the second half. It was just attack after attack. Firmino drops into those areas that no one else can.”
The Brazilian bagged another assist when his flick freed Salah, who took his time before leaving Dubravka grounded and placing the ball into the far corner.
Mane was denied his hat-trick and Firmino a triple of assists by the offside flag, but Liverpool cruised through the final stages with one eye already on the start of their defence of the Champions League away to Napoli on Tuesday.