Manchester City were expected to cut the Reds lead to a point by winning at Norwich, but the Champions were upset by the newly promoted side, a result that left the red side of Liverpool dreaming of their first Premier League title in 29 years.
The Champions League winners went behind to a 7th minute goal from Jetro Willems at Anfield, before Sadio Mane scored twice in the first half and Mohamed Salah as normal service was resumed.
The first match back after an international break is always a difficult one for sides, and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was happy to see his side gran all three points without playing particularly well.
We can’t only perform on the best days in our life. If there is an average day, you still have to win. We have to learn from the game and that’s how it is. The challenge after international breaks is always to find a common rhythm again. Before we had that obviously, but then the boys played for different countries in different ways. Then somebody gives us one-and-a-half days to work on that, that’s not too much and then you need to use the game actually to come in. Yes, we had to do that plenty of times and that’s why I’m not happy or whatever. We have to. The boys did and that’s good, but we needed longer. It was not 1-0 and now click, we are now here. We needed really longer and that’s OK. As long as we don’t concede, then there’s always a chance for us to come back in the game. Of course, it helps that we know that.
Liverpool struggle until Roberto Firmino, wasn’t even supposed to play much against Newcastle, came on as a substitute and dominated the game, earning a wonderful assist and controlling the match.
“He is a very important player for all of us,” said Virgil Van Dijk of the 37th minute sub. “I know how difficult it is for a defender when the striker drops his position and he is making life difficult for any defender in the world, I think. He is so good and I am very happy he is on my team.”
Manager Jurgen Klopp agreed, and explained that Firmino’s status on the bench wasn’t even about the upcoming UEFA Champions League match at Napoli.
“You don’t want to leave Bobby out, but from time to time you have to be sensible especially after long trips but of course he came on and helped,” Klopp said.