Fulham 2 - 2 Liverpool
Fulham: Mitrovic 33’, 72’ (PEN) ’
Liverpool: Núñez 64’, Salah 80’
A very comfortable and familiar starting line-up kicks off the 2022-23 campaign. Klopp picked his typical back five. Thiago Alcantara, Jordan Henderson, and Fabinho made up the midfield, while Luis Díaz, Mohamed Salah, and Roberto Firmino started up front.
The home team started stronger, keeping the majority of possession and looking like the most dangerous. Newly-promoted Fulham clearly recognized the occasion, while Liverpool seemed slower to wake up in the early stages.
13 minutes in, Liverpool get their first burst of inspiration, charging down the pitch in a counterattack. However, though Díaz scored, Andy Robertson was offside in the run-up so the goal didn’t count.
The game went from end to end without either team finding that first goal. The two teams were well-matched, which is good for Fulham but not great for Liverpool. Now surprisingly, it’s Fulham that got first blood. Mitrovic leaped over Trent Alexander-Arnold and scored a header in the 33rd minute.
Dīaz looked the most likely Liverpool player to score the whole first half, and he nearly tied it up five minutes after the opening goal. His curling shot out wide clanked off the far post and bounced back out instead of into the net.
Liverpool looked in desperate need of a wake up by the time the halftime whistle blew. Hopefully Klopp had the right words to say in the locker room to get the team performing at the level we know they’re capable of.
There were no changes for either team as the second half kicked off, however Darwin Núñez was warming up on the side. The teams had five substitutes, and the Reds were forced into an early one when Thiago worryingly clutched his hamstring only minutes after the restart.
A double change took place on 50 minutes with Harvey Elliott replacing the injured Thiago and Núñez coming on for Firmino.
Elliott got a very lucky break. He lost his footing on the grass and had the ball taken off his toes by a Fulham player. However, the break came to nothing, with Alisson easily snatching the ball.
Fulham continued their domination, easily intercepting Liverpool’s passes and stopping any momentum the Reds tried to gain. Kebano nearly made it 2-0 for the London team, but his shot ricocheted off of the inside post, saving Alisson.
Fabinho made way for James Milner, making the midfield an all-English affair with him, Henderson, and Elliott.
Finally, finally, finally Liverpool manage their opening goal. Their first attempt ended with the goalkeeper saving it. Moments later, they attempted the same maneuver. It began with a perfectly timed movement, first from Salah, who got the ball into the box to Núñez. Núñez nudged the ball into the goal with a clever back heel.
I can’t say it was a long time coming, because Liverpool haven’t looked on the pace today, but it was still good to see them get off the mark.
The euphoria of that comeback only lasted a few minutes however. On the other end, Virgil van Dijk conceded a rare, very soft penalty against Mitrovic. The player took it himself and slotted it right under Alisson, who moved the right way but wasn’t fast enough. Once again, Liverpool were up against it.
Díaz made way for Fabio Carvalho to make his Premier League debut for the Reds as they continue to search for another equalizer.
80 minutes in, they find it again. Alexander-Arnold sent a searching ball into the box. It hit the head of a defender, straight to Núñez, who flicked it onto Salah. The Egyptian made no mistake and guided it into the back of the net.
It was very nearly glory for the captain, but Henderson’s 25 yard shot slammed against the crossbar with less than two minutes left to go.
It’s not the start that anyone wanted, but the good news is that when Liverpool did come alive at the end of the second half, we saw glimpses of the team we expect them to be. Liverpool and Fulham split the points at Craven Cottage.