Mane masterful as Liverpool ease past Newcastle
Liverpool recovered from an early setback to comfortably win 3-1 against a Newcastle side that didn't quite have enough defensive nous to protect an early lead against constant pressure, with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino the stars for the home side.
Despite going behind early on, there was no air of panic about Liverpool, and their patience was rewarded with two quick goals to seize control of the game. Fans will also be purring over the superb displays of Mane and Firmino.
With a Champions League tie away at Napoli just three days away, Jurgen Klopp might be a touch concerned with the slow start his side made, and despite getting back on top of the game relatively quickly, the Reds were by no means at their free-flowing best against a dogged Newcastle outfit.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Klopp rotated his side with two changes following the international break, and his side dealt well with a Newcastle side that sat deep from the off.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Adrian, 6 -- The stand-in Liverpool keeper had very little to do apart from pick the ball out of his net following Jetro Willems' rasping drive for 1-0. He may well find himself a little busier in Naples next week, though.
DF Trent Alexander-Arnold, 6 -- Didn't cover himself in glory for Newcastle's opener when he made it all too easy for Willems to cut inside and fire in a superb goal. Always a threat going forward, however, and was denied a second-half goal by a good Martin Dubravka save.
DF Joel Matip, 6 -- Played his part in Liverpool's second when winning a midfield 50-50 to release Firmino in the final third, and was largely untroubled at the back.
DF Virgil Van Dijk, 6 -- A regulation afternoon for the imperious Dutchman, but may feel a bit disappointed that his defensive line wasn't quite on point in the build up for Newcastle's opener.
DF Andrew Robertson, 7 -- A typical driving run opened up the space for Mane to curl in a delightful equaliser, and the Scot's influence grew as the game went on. Somehow denied a great goal in the second half by an alert Dubravka in the Newcastle goal.
MF Fabinho, 6 -- One or two sloppy touches in midfield early on, but enjoyed a comfortable afternoon once Liverpool's attack wrestled back control of the game.
MF Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, 6 -- Covered plenty of ground and showed some neat touches, but wasted a couple of promising attacks when a better final ball was needed, and poor defending led to a huge Newcastle chance to equaliser. Subbed off for James Milner with just over 15 minutes to go.
MF Georginio Wijnaldum, 6 -- Almost scored a contender for goal of the season with a dipping volley from just inside the penalty area. Not his most impactful display, before coming off for Xherdan Shaqiri in the closing stages.
FW Mohamed Salah, 6 -- A peripheral figure for much of the game, before stepping things up several notches to glide past a haggard Newcastle backline and slotting home to put the game to bed with 20 minutes to go.
FW Sadio Mane, 8 -- A sublime finish from the corner of the penalty area hauled his side level just before the half-hour, before a fumble from Newcastle goalkeeper Dubravka laid his second on a plate.
FW Divock Origi 5 -- Occupied a wide left role in Liverpool's attack and looked a little rusty early on with some sloppy touches, before injury ended his day just before half time
Roberto Firmino, 8 -- Made an immediate impact after replacing the injured Origi, gliding in a lovely pass in behind the Newcastle backline for Mane's fortunate second goal. He didn't stop there, providing a glorious backheel to set Salah on his way for 3-1, and the Brazilian could well have had a couple of goals of his own had it not been for some good shot-stopping.
James Milner, N/A -- On for Oxlade-Chamberlain with the game won.
Xherdan Shaqiri, N/A -- Came on for Wijnaldum on 84 minutes.