Mohamed Salah struck on the opening weekend for the sixth straight season and Darwin Nunez netted on his Premier League bow as Liverpool rescued a 2-2 draw against an Aleksandar Mitrovic-inspired Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Mitrovic, who plundered a record 43 goals in the Championship last term, set the tone when he toe-poked an early effort wide of target before making his mark just past the half hour when he rose above Trent Alexander-Arnold to head home Kenny Tete’s magnificent cross.
Liverpool looked subdued for large spells but Luis Diaz almost levelled before the break when he sizzled a shot against the crossbar from the left side of the area.
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Jurgen Klopp did not waste time in making a double change early in the second period with Nunez coming on to make an instant impact.
The £64m Uruguayan went close on two occasions before finally getting his reward by flicking home Salah’s low cross to level matters.
Fulham weathered further pressure and then regained the lead on 72 minutes when Mitrovic claimed his second of the afternoon after winning and converting a penalty.
However, Liverpool responded again and Salah claimed what is almost an obligatory opening day goal when he touched in Nunez’s pass nine minutes from time. Jordan Henderson almost won it deep into stoppage time but saw his thumping strike come back off the crossbar.
Next up, Liverpool host Crystal Palace on Monday August 15 while Fulham visit Wolves on Saturday 13th.
Rusty Liverpool avoid shock defeat. The Merseysiders are many pundits’ tip to win the title this season but they were second best for long spells here.
Indeed, it wasn’t until Klopp turned to Nunez that the Reds began to pose a greater threat in the attacking third and the former Benfica striker’s display will bolster Kopites’ belief that he can go on to have an excellent career at Anfield. There is already evidence of a good understanding with Salah and you can expect him to start from now on.
Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez
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Liverpool may have nicked it at the death but that would have been harsh on Fulham. The Cottagers have been relegated at the end of their last three PL campaigns but this performance suggests Marco Silva and his squad could change the narrative this time around.
They pressed high and were the better side up until the hour mark with Mitrovic showing he could be the man to fire the goals to help keep them up.
It’s very, very early days but Fulham will come out of this game with plenty of positives while Liverpool know there are still various areas to improve going forward.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH – Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
The Serbian carried on where he left off in the Championship with the type of centre forward display that really caught the eye. He led the line brilliantly, took his chances and even bamboozled the usually unflappable Virgil van Dijk to win his side’s second-half penalty.
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FULHAM: Rodak 7, Tete 8, Ream 8, Adarabioyo 8, Robinson 8, Reed 8, Palhinha 8, Pereira 7, De Cordova-Reid 7, Kebano 7, Mitrovic 9. Subs: Solomon 7, Cairney n/a, Duffy n/a.
LIVERPOOL: Alisson 6, Alexander-Arnold 6, Van Dijk 6, Matip 7, Robertson 7, Fabinho 6, Thiago 6, Henderson 6, Salah 8, Diaz 7, Firmino 6. Subs: Elliott 6, Nunez 8, Milner 7, Carvalho 6.
02’- FULHAM CHANCE! Mitrovic is gifted the ball 30 yards from goal and drives into the left side of the area before toe-poking a rushed effort wide of the far post.
31’- FULHAM CHANCE! The hosts carve the Reds open down the left. It's delivered into the middle of the box where Harrison Reed arrives on cue but sees his goal-bound strike well blocked.
32’ – GOAL! – FULHAM 1-0 LIVERPOOL. The home side break the deadlock and it's a deserved opener. They work it well down the right and Mitrovic climbs above TAA at the far post to easily node home a delicious Tete cross.
39’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Diaz shimmies past his man on the left but sees a superb strike crash back off the crossbar.
57’- FULHAM CHANCE! Reed lays the ball into the path of Neeskens Kebano who sees his thunderous strike from the right cannon back off the inside of the post.
62’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Alexander Arnold and Salah carve Fulham open down the right. Nunez attacks a low cross with an extravagant flick that Rodak does well to block.
64’ – GOAL! – FULHAM 1-1 LIVERPOOL. Nunez scores on his PL debut as he flicks Salah's low cross into the back of the net.
69’ – LIVERPOOL CHANCES! Nunez is proving to be a real handful. He's almost in again but sees his low effort cleared off the line. Liverpool come again and the Uruguayan nods down Milner’s cross but Diaz’s volley is deflected wide.
72’ – GOAL! – FULHAM 2-1 LIVERPOOL. Mitrovic dusts himself down before stepping up and rifling a low spot kick beyond the dive of Alisson. The penalty was awarded after the Fulham forward was tripped I the box by van Dijk.
81’ – GOAL! – FULHAM 2-2 LIVERPOOL. Salah tucks in Nunez's touch back after Fulham had made a mess of defending a probing ball from the right.
90+5’– LIVERPOOL CHANCE! Henderson almost wins it for Liverpool but slams a shot against the woodwork.
Liverpool have gained 115 points from losing positions under Jürgen Klopp in the Premier League, the most of any side since the German took over in October 2015.
Núñez is only the third player to score and assist from the bench on his Premier League debut after Sergio Agüero (2011-12) and Álvaro Morata (2017-18).
Liverpool ended a run of 51 Premier League matches without giving away a penalty, which was the longest ongoing run in the competition. Virgil van Dijk conceded a penalty in the competition for the first time since October 2018 vs Manchester City.
Mitrovic has scored 45 goals in 45 league matches since the start of last season.
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