Liverpool's winners, losers and ratings as Nunez delivers but Mitrovic rattles Van Dijk

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Darwin Nunez Liverpool 2022-23Getty Images

Liverpool had to come from behind twice to secure a 2-2 draw with newly-promoted Fulham in their first Premier League game of the season.

Mohamed Salah’s late strike rescued Jurgen Klopp’s men at Craven Cottage, after the home side had twice led through Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Darwin Nunez marked his league debut with the Reds’ first equaliser, having come off the bench early in the second half, but Liverpool were far from their usual selves all afternoon and lost the influential Thiago Alcantara to injury to make matters worse.

Jordan Henderson almost won it for the visitors in stoppage time, but saw his 25-yard effort come back off the crossbar as Fulham began life in the top-flight with a deserved point.

  • Mohamed Salah 2022-23Getty

    The Winners

    Aleksandar Mitrovic

    He scored only four times in his last Premier League campaign, but after 43 goals in the Championship last term, all eyes were on Mitrovic to see whether he could carry that form into the new season. 

    He could, needing a little over half an hour to open his account with a towering back-post header. 

    His tail up, he remained a menace thereafter, worrying Virgil van Dijk into conceding a penalty 19 minutes from time, which he then stepped up to convert coolly.

    Other than that, this was an accomplished performance from the Serbia international, who ruffled Van Dijk and Joel Matip throughout and led the line superbly for Marco Silva’s side.

    Darwin Nunez

    It hasn’t taken long for the Uruguayan to show what he is all about. Having scored off the bench in last weekend’s Community Shield win over Manchester City, Nunez was at it again here.

    Replacing Roberto Firmino early in the second half, the 23-year-old immediately brought a threat that had been previously lacking. He grabbed Liverpool’s equaliser, albeit in somewhat fortuitous fashion, and then got the assist for Salah’s late strike.

    His ability to create chaos in and around the penalty area is already clear. He can tidy himself up, for sure, and will need time to read his team-mates’ moves and tendencies, but Nunez’s potential is huge.

    Liverpool needed him here.

    Mohamed Salah

    Another day, another record, for this relentless goalscoring machine. 

    For the sixth year in a row, Liverpool’s Egyptian King marked the opening day of the Premier League season with a goal.

    Fulham may have thought, with some justification, that they had handled Salah pretty well for an hour, but you can’t keep the Reds’ No.11 quiet for long, and by the time the final whistle came, he had written his name all over another game.

    He set up his side’s first goal, sliding in a perfect cross for Nunez to - eventually - force home at the near post, and then picked up one for himself, a poacher’s effort after Nunez’s touch fell to him in the box.

    Whatever Liverpool achieve this season, Salah will have a huge role to play again.

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    The Losers

    Jurgen Klopp

    Another game, another injury. That’s 10 first-teamers on the sidelines for Liverpool now, with Thiago Alcantara the latest to fall. 

    Klopp’s squad, when all are available, is extremely strong, but at the moment it looks wafer-thin, which does not bode at all well ahead of such a gruelling campaign. 

    The bench here, for example, contained three players - Sepp van den Berg, Luke Chambers and Stefan Bajcetic - without a single minute of Premier League experience. 

    Klopp says, as things stand, there are no plans to dip into the transfer market before the window closes, but his side already look stretched, and August is barely underway.

    Virgil van Dijk

    There haven’t been too many games like this for the Dutchman, since his move to Anfield four-and-a-half years ago.

    But Van Dijk, normally so cool and composed, was given a hell of an examination from Mitrovic here, and came off second best.

    It was his dangling leg which led to the penalty from which Fulham won the game. A piece of defending we rarely associate with the 31-year-old, who was far from his usual self throughout.

  • Aleksandar Mitrovic Trent Alexander-Arnold Fulham Liverpool 2022-23Getty Images

    Liverpool Ratings: Defence

    Alisson (5/10):

    Could he have done better for the opening goal? It certainly looked that way. Otherwise had little of note to do, until he was beaten well by Mitrovic from the penalty spot.

    Alexander-Arnold (5/10): 

    Nullified as an attacking threat in the first half, and exposed at the back post by Mitrovic for the opening goal. Better in the second half, and his ball brought about the second Liverpool equaliser, but overall he was far from his best.

    Robertson (6/10):

    Important block to deny Reed, and Liverpool’s threat in the first half came mainly from him and Diaz. Less effective after the break.

    Matip (6/10):

    Forced into some important blocks and headers in the opening stages, he caused problems when stepping into midfield initially but his distribution faded in the second half.

    Van Dijk (5/10):

    Tested by Mitrovic’s physicality and work rate, the Dutchman’s trademark diagonals were not to there usual high standards, and he conceded the penalty from which Fulham’s No.9 made it 2-1.

  • Thiago Alcantara Liverpool 2022Getty

    Midfield

    Fabinho (5/10):

    Not given time and space in a hectic midfield, the Brazilian looked ill at ease and couldn’t influence the game at either end.

    Henderson (5/10):

    Sloppy in possession and looked leggy. Lucky to stay on as long as he did, in truth, though he almost won it for his side in stoppage time with a stunning strike which hit the bar.

    Thiago (6/10):

    Making his 50th Premier League appearance, the Spaniard tried to inject some tempo into Liverpoo’s play, but succumbed to an injury early in the second half. Worrying, to say the least, given Liverpool’s already-large absentee list.

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23Getty Images

    Attack

    Salah (7/10):

    Pretty quiet for an hour but woke up after Nunez’s arrival, creating chances for the Uruguayan and then reacting instantly to prod home for 2-2 late on.

    Diaz (6/10):

    The liveliest of Liverpool’s attackers in the first half, rattling the woodwork and getting stuck into the battle. Denied a goal at 1-1 by a good block, and was replaced by Carvalho.

    Firmino (4/10):

    Selected ahead of Nunez, he drifted on the periphery and didn’t see enough of the ball in the first half. Was replaced early in the second half by Nunez, and it was no surprise. 

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    Subs & Manager

    Nunez (7/10):

    Got the call early in the second half, and immediately made a difference, unsettling defenders and getting into dangerous positions. Had two chances before his flick brought Liverpool’s equaliser, he then helped Salah make it 2-2.

    Elliott (6/10):

    Replaced Thiago early in the second half, he helped get Salah into the game.

    Milner (6/10):

    Brought on to help his side compete in midfield, and stood up one fine cross to the back post for Nunez. Added energy.

    Carvalho (6/10):

    Came on against his former club to make his Premier League debut for the Reds, and immediately had a chance to score with a volley from a corner. 

    Klopp (6/10):

    Went for Firmino over Nunez, but otherwise had little room for manoeuvre with his selection. Liverpool were poor in the first half, bullied physically and unable to get into any kind of rhythm. Made his subs early in the second half, albeit one of them forced through Thiago’s injury, and they largely made things better.