Update: SBS Sport website to
become home
of all our sport
content on 09/08/2021.

Late Willock strike dents wasteful Liverpool's Champions League hopes

0:00

Newcastle United scored an injury-time equaliser as they took a crucial step toward Premier League safety by drawing 1-1 with Liverpool.

In a game characterised by wasteful finishing from Jurgen Klopp's men, Mohamed Salah's third-minute strike looked enough to move them back into the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.

But, after seeing a Callum Wilson equaliser harshly ruled out for handball by VAR at the death, the Magpies finally got their goal as Joe Willock thrashed home late on.

Newcastle now sit nine points clear of the relegation zone as a result of a recent recovery that looks certain to preserve their top-flight status.

The hosts wasted little time in stamping their authority on proceedings, with just three minutes having elapsed before Salah powered a shot beyond Martin Dubravka after brilliantly controlling Ciaran Clark's attempted clearance inside the box.

In scoring, the Egyptian became the first Liverpool player to reach 20 Premier League goals in three consecutive seasons, and joined Dick Forshaw in 12th on the club's all-time top scorers list with 123.

But the forward-thinking formation named by Klopp hinted that he did not expect his players to grind out a 1-0 win from there, and that is certainly how things played out.

Sean Longstaff forced a save from Alisson Becker after a fine ball in behind from Jonjo Shelvey soon after, and Newcastle had the ball in the net from the subsequent corner only for Clark to be flagged offside.

The Magpies failed to make the most of some promising counters off the back of those opportunities, while Liverpool were also wasteful in their finishing.

Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota all produced hesitant finishes when handed simple chances before the end of a half that saw them take 12 shots for just a 1-0 lead.

The second half began in similar vein, with Brazilian duo Joelinton and Roberto Firmino drawing saves from Alisson and Dubravka shortly after the restart.

With his players failing to make the most of an open game, Klopp looked to tighten things up in midfield as he introduced James Milner in place of Jota just before the hour mark.

And that substitution appeared to have helped bring about a more sedate final half hour in which Liverpool sealed three crucial points.

But, after a VAR review denied Wilson an injury-time equaliser for an unavoidable handball, Willock grabbed one anyway, powering a deflected strike in after the ball had fallen to him in the box.

What does it mean? Klopp needs more from forwards

In an attempt to remedy his side's recent struggles in front of goal, Klopp called on all four of his striking options from the start in this one.

But Liverpool were just as frustrating as ever as they failed to make the most of chance after chance - a problem that now looks likely to have cost them any hopes of a top-four finish, with West Ham and Chelsea having the chance to take control of the race when they meet later on Saturday.

Dubravka deserves more

While the hosts' finishing was partly to blame for Newcastle staying in the game so long, their goalkeeper Dubravka also deserves great credit.

The 32-year-old pulled off eight saves - some of them excellent - across 90 minutes to give the visitors a chance of pulling off their late smash-and-grab.

Jota misses the mark

No one player could be held solely responsible for Liverpool's first-half profligacy, but Jota was certainly the worst offender.

The Portuguese's 58 minutes on the pitch saw him fail to find the back of the net from any of the four shots he took, all of which could be considered presentable chances.

What's next?

Liverpool's next outing sees them travel to the home of their bitter rivals Manchester United hoping to keep their slim Champions League hopes alive. Newcastle, meanwhile, will look to take a step closer to safety when they host Arsenal at St James' Park.

Source Omnisport