Darwin Nunez’s affect was nearly quick. Till his arrival six minutes into the second half, Liverpool have been tepid, usually overwhelmed by Fulham’s power. Uruguay’s pace and simplicity shortly put the rookie staff in a susceptible place. The £85m Premier League participant’s first aim, a intelligent again heel, got here inside quarter-hour of his presentation and likewise performed his half in Mohamed Salah’s equalizer.
Immediately was additionally the property of one other striker. Aleksandar Mitrovic, who scored 43 objectives within the match final season and tried to dent his popularity as missing within the Premier League class, scored twice. The primary was a trademark header, the second a penalty transformed after a foul by Virgil van Dijk, to counsel he and Fulham would possibly belong within the first division in any case.
Charting the season opener, not a lot of his efficiency was disastrous for Liverpool, with Van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold struggling and attacking blunt till Nunez arrived, needs to be a priority for Jurgen Klopp. Jordan Henderson hit the crossbar within the last seconds, however that was nonetheless an escape for final season’s runner-up.
The issue was coming from the opening seconds when Mitrovic was given area and time to shoot into Alisson’s left publish. He ought to have been significantly better however this would not be his final probability. Fulham performed frivolously from the whistle, urgent Liverpool in the midst of the sector. In the meantime their opponents appeared agitated and distracted, and their frustrations have been mirrored by Allison’s livid banging within the basement of the brand new Riverside Suite.
It took Liverpool till the fifteenth minute to launch an assault, and though Luis Diaz shot the ball into the online, he was already judged offside. Salah’s first try to attain on aim despatched him horribly deflected away right into a raucous mockery, having misplaced his instructions within the southwest London solar. Fulham left-back Anthony Robinson was higher than the Liverpool star within the first half, regardless of dropping to Nunez’s aim, which was positioned on the board by an Egyptian cross.
Till the sweeping modifications within the second half, Klopp’s choose was echoing Invoice Shankly’s outdated time period “like final season”, with Firmino the extra central striker and Diaz coming from the left of the Trident. Fulham promotion star Fabio Carvalho joined Nunez on a bench as youth inclusions Stefan Bajcetic, 17, Sepp van den Berg, 20 and Luke Chambers, 18, have been proof of his pre-season harm disaster.
Marco Silva’s model was no totally different. Solely two new signings have been made in Joao Balenha and Andreas Pereira, each of whom are in midfield. This continuity has allowed Fulham to attempt to do what Liverpool did to their championship opponents final season: maintain them off kick-off. It was a courageous technique, nevertheless it had the specified impact. Joel Matip and Van Dijk each underwent heavy workloads by Mitrovic whereas Andy Robertson and Alexander Arnold’s attacking particulars have been curbed by Bobby Decordova-Reid and Neskens Kebanu, and Pereira’s busy and spectacular move. In the meantime, Thiago Alcantara was Harrison Reed’s fixed companion.
Robertson’s bottom wanted to dam a shot from Reed, then Kebanu’s move was shortly turned away as Mitrovic lined up. The Serbian’s first aim quickly adopted, a transfer initiated by Pereira earlier than Reed and Kibanu despatched off Kenny Tite. Alexander-Arnold, on the again publish, didn’t have a solution to the energy and intuition of the goalscorer, and questions in regards to the England participant’s protection can be raised once more.
Liverpool responded, Diaz smashed the ball from the nook with a robust shot, however when Klopp bumped into the dressing room within the first half, he had many issues to resolve. When Thiago paused with a muscle harm six minutes into the second half, he was changed by former Fulham participant Harvey Elliott, whereas Klopp additionally opted to exchange Firmino with Nuñez.
Fulham nonetheless retains placing stress on. Mitrovic’s solo run made the viewers roar in appreciation, heading off Van Dijk as he did so, then Kebanu hit the publish to hit Alison. Fabinho was quickly gone when James Milner’s experiment was offered.
The modifications Klopp made are beginning to have an impact. Tim Ream, who had beforehand featured towards Firmino, struggled with a Nunez transfer, and the striker’s heeled aim was preceded by an analogous try saved by Marek Rodak. A intelligent contact helped Salah internet his second equalizer and sixth consecutive aim within the opening weekend, suggesting the beginnings of a partnership that might quickly make Sadio Mane historical past.
However that got here after Mitrovic lured Van Dijk to the Serb’s penalty foul, on a day when two strikers declared themselves within the Premier League.