Nunez, Salah combine in Liverpool 2-2 tie at Fulham
And so it begins. Summer break is over and the Premier League is officially back!
Liverpool kicked off the 2022-23 campaign with a trip down to sunny London to face off with Fulham, the winners of the 2022 EFL Championship. The Reds were forced to settle for one point in the season opener, tying Fulham 2-2 on Saturday.
From the jump, it was all Fulham. The hosts at Craven Cottage were generating attacks and forcing errors out of the Jurgen Klopp’s squad early. It took 15 minutes or so before Liverpool was able to respond with a few attacks of their own, but the Reds continued to look extremely shaky defensively.
That vulnerability came to a head (literally) around the 32-minute mark. Kenny Tete sent in a cross ball from the right for Aleksandar Mitrovic to head home over the top of Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The Reds simply looked sloppy the majority of the first half. The defense was extremely spotty, the midfield was absent, and the offense looked rushed and ineffective. Their closest chance at an equalizer came from a shot off the woodwork from Luis Diaz, but there were few other positives to write home about for Liverpool at halftime.
Despite the abysmal first half, Klopp decided not to make any changes to the squad during the break, but that was short-lived. Thiago Alcantara came off in the 51st minute with an apparent hamstring injury, prompting Klopp to send on Harvey Elliot in his place and Darwin Nunez on for Roberto Firmino.
Unfortunately for the Reds, it didn’t seem to make a difference for a bit, with Fulham getting numerous chances to snag at second in the following 10 minutes or so.
Finally, a glimpse of hope came on a cross from Mohamed Salah to Nunez at close range, but Nunez’s flick was dealt with by Rodak. Moments later, they tried the same play again, but this time Nunez was able to get the ball in the air over the arm of Rodak to equalize.
From there, the floodgates opened, finally. Liverpool were getting more chances and looked more organized than they had in the first hour of play.
Fulham retook the lead off a penalty kick, but the celebration for the hosts didn’t last long. Salah combined with Nunez again to level the game again for the Reds with a tap-in, scoring his sixth consecutive opening match in the Premier League.
The Reds pushed to take a lead late, with Jordan Henderson even finding the crossbar from about 30 yards out, but were forced to settle for a tie with their newly-promoted opponents.
Well, the season is officially underway, with all the emotions and ups and downs that come along with it. Next up, Liverpool will be back at Anfield for their home-opener on Monday, Aug. 15 against Crystal Palace.
Alisson Becker – 6
Alisson handled most of the pressure of the first half relatively well but could have made a better effort on the Mitrovic goal that kicked off the scoring. Dove the right way for Mitrovic’s penalty kick but couldn’t quite reach it. He had much less to do as the game went on.
Trent Alexander-Arnold – 5
Alexander-Arnold struggled from the jump on Saturday. In the first half, the Scouser lost the ball a number of times and didn’t put up nearly enough of a fight to get the ball which resulted in Mitrovic’s goal.
Joel Matip – 7
Matip was one of the brighter spots of the defense in the first half, remaining calm and finding a number of important clearances, and even went on an adventure or two. He finished the game with four clearances, two interceptions and one blocked shot.
Virgil van Dijk – 6
Van Dijk was decent defensively, racking up three won aerials, two tackles, and six clearances. However, van Dijk’s soft contact foul led to Fulham taking a 2-1 lead in the second half off a penalty kick.
Andy Robertson – 6
Robertson had one of the few bright defensive moments of the first half for Liverpool, blocking a shot from Harrison Reed. Robertson finished with two tackles and two clearances.