Wow. A 95th minute equaliser from super sub Joe Willock hands Newcastle United a huge point at Anfield – just moments after VAR denied Callum Wilson in extra time!
We thought we’d grabbed a point with a couple of minutes to play when Wilson bundled home, however the video assistant chalked it off for a ‘handball’.
A bitter blow and tough one to swallow, highlighting the pathetic nature of these new rules, but it mattered not moments later when Willock latched onto a loose ball and smashed home with just seconds on the clock.
Mo Salah scored just three minutes into the game and Liverpool had a host of huge chances, however we never gave up, had opportunities of our own in both halves and ended up fully deserving our point in the end.
The result takes us NINE clear of third bottom Fulham and up to 36 points ahead of next Sunday’s clash with Arsenal, with this a bonus point for Bruce in our game in hand on Scott Parker’s side.
Bruce went with an unchanged line up. Some might say rightly so to reward the team that beat West Ham 3-2 last weekend, however it felt like we missed a trick leaving both Callum Wilson and Joe Willock on the bench – two players capable of hurting a Liverpool team that had lost SIX of their last seven Premier League home games.
As for the hosts, Klopp went with his awesome foursome for only the third time this season, handing starts to Salah, Mane, Firminio AND Jota.
The game kicked off and it only took three minutes for one of the above to find the net.
After Mane was given too much time to hang in a cross, his high ball into the box wasn’t dealt with and Mo Salah beat Ritchie to the bounce, took a brilliant touch inside and lashed the ball past Dubravka. 1-0 Liverpool and a disastrous start, giving ourselves a mountain to climb.
We were sitting too deep in the early stages, offering so little on the break when we turned over the ball. It was immediately clear we were relying on Saint-Maximin to do everything on the counter, with him often having so few options ahead of him when he got the chance to drive forward.
He showed his destructive dribbling by bursting through the Liverpool midfield and drawing Kabak into a cynical foul that got him in the book, but that was our only real moment of note until our biggest chance of the first half arrived.
Sean Longstaff made a bursting run in behind and was picked out perfectly by Shelvey. He was well on side and only had Alisson to beat, but never looked confident, took too long to get the ball under control and saw his tame shot blocked by the big Brazilian in the end.
Two half chances then fell to Jota – one being blazed over and the other deflected into the arms of Dubrakva.
We were growing into the game after a slow start and beginning to impose ourselves on the game a little more in the final third. Saint-Maximin looked at it, Murphy was dangerous whenever he got down the line and Almiron’s energy on the break was threatening to cause problems.
Minutes later and we looked set to get in behind again after some good work from Saint-Maximin, only for Almiron and Joelinton to get in each others way to spoil what looked like a very promising break at one stage.
On the subject of cock-ups, Clark then did his best to gift Liverpool a second when a scuffed pass across was easily intercepted. The ball then fell to Jota, but the former Wolves star bobbled a shot wide.
30 minutes in and it was hard to believe there’d been only one goal. We’d spurned chances of our own and grown into the game, however we looked an accident waiting to happen at the back, with Clark sloppy and Fernandez walking a tightrope after an early yellow card.
Another explosive run from ASM arrived and we were a pass away from getting Sean Longstaff in behind again. Frustratingly, Joelinton got the ball caught under his feet and the chance was gone. Big Jo had been much improved in our last two home games, but he was letting us down in this one.
Two more huge chances then arrived for the home side. First Salah was clean through and saw a shot blocked by Dubravka after taking a poor touch, then the Egyptian – who was being given FAR too much space – put it on a plate for Mane. He looked all set to make it 2-0 but he too was smothered by the Dubravka after failing to get his shot away.
Thiago was being given too much space to pull the strings, we never got close enough to Salah and the entire front four were creating chances at will. We had opportunities of our own and were regularly hurting them when Saint-Maximin got on the ball, but were fortunate to go in at the break just 1-0 down in the end.
A game so wide open was crying out for one man – Callum Wilson. His pace, presence and quality in the final third could get us back into this.
Sadly, it took 15 minutes of the second half to see him introduced, with this coming after Joelinton hit a big chance straight at Alisson after doing so well to burst past Kabak and Fabinho.
Wilson’s introduction was followed by Willock soon after. The Arsenal loanee replaced Ciaran Clark – an ‘interesting’ move considering it saw Jonjo Shelvey slot in at centre-back!
With Wilson, ASM, Willock and Almiron now all on the pitch there was no reason why we couldn’t get back into the game. That said, Klopp’s move to bring on Milner at Jota’s expense helped shore up a previously open Liverpool midfield, making it tougher for us to get Saint-Maximin running at their defence.
15 minutes on the clock and we did our best (once again) to gift Liverpool a second, this time via a careless Sean Longstaff pass that ended in Salah smashing into the side netting.
Almiron pulled up with cramp and Gayle came on. Time was running out, but we were pushing for an equaliser and thought we’d got it in extra time.
Wilson broke clear, bundled the ball past Alisson and tapped in on the line. A huge goal that all but sealed our survival, until VAR ruled it out for an accidental handball…for this.
A complete joke that showed up the flaws in VAR, but justice was done seconds later.
Willock arrived in the box as he does so well, latched onto a Gayle knockdown and his deflected shot flew past Alisson to hand us a late point!
Absolute scenes at Anfield and huge celebrations between the players and Steve Bruce!
Next up, Arsenal at St James’ Park a week tomorrow.