On one hand, the Reds collected a challenging three points away, and from a direct rival to one of the top four spots. Liverpool also kept a clean sheet, and credit for that goes largely to the keeper himself; Alisson, who probably should be my man-of-the-match but isn’t, made a couple of remarkable reflex saves, showing yet again why he is the best keeper in the world. It was also nice to have Van Dijk back in the lineup. His calmness, added to his spotless positioning, always causes opponents to take just a wee bit more difficult of an action, and in a game at these levels, that’s all it takes to stop what would otherwise be a sure goal.
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He isn’t my MotM either, but he wasn’t excellent today.
On the other hand, Liverpool should have roasted and gobbled up the Zebras leaving nothing but a gleaming skeleton behind after Nick Pope forgot where he was and got sent off twenty minutes in (thereby also losing his spot in the upcoming cup final). It wasn’t the first time in the game that he got himself into that kind of trouble, either; Darwin almost nicked a ball off him earlier on in similar circumstances. Instead, Newcastle kept creating decent chances and should have scored. Then again, the same goes for Liverpool, and in the end, the game could have easily ended, as is more typical of this particular rivalry, 4-3.
The two early goals were brilliant, too. Darwin’s control and finish were sublime on that Trent assist, and Gakpo’s were just as good on Salah’s a few minutes later. This kind of passing and finishing is a lot more of what we’ve grown to see and love from this team, so I ended up a bit disappointed when we failed to convert clear-cut chances the rest of the game. Jota, in particular, isn’t quite sharp yet. He certainly finds himself in the right places at the right time, but he still needs to shake off some rust from his long spell on the sidelines. Salah also seems to have lost his magic first touch.
Let’s hope he finds it again soon.
Speaking of Trent, who is in fact my MotM, he was on fire today. His passing was crisp and visionary, and he could have easily ended with a hat-trick of assists. But even more impressive was his defensive display. He likes playing next to Van Dijk, and it shows. He was consistent and reliable, didn’t open up any crazy gaps, and stopped a number of dangerous offensives in their tracks. This is relative, of course, since Trent will never be the kind of fullback that opponents fear, but considering how the season up to now has been going, this was a breath of fresh air.
It’s a good time for Liverpool to build momentum, and perhaps Real Madrid has to reconsider just how weak of a lineup they can afford to put up. Even having hope for the tie seemed like a stretch a month ago, so I suppose there’s no emotional conflict after all.
Let’s just keep stringing wins together.
Up the Reds.