Liverpool did what has been virtually impossible for them this season and beat a team who started the day in the relegation zone.
In what somehow ended up being a thriller of a match, the Reds prevented 19th-place Nottingham Forest from doing the league double over them, eking out a 3-2 victory to keep faint hopes of Champions League qualification alive.
A sleepy first half gave way to fireworks in the second period, with dead ball goals being the name of the game as none of the five scores came from live play. A second straight brace from Diogo Jota helped Jurgen Klopp’s men twice take the lead despite equalizers from former Red, Neco Williams and Morgan Gibbs-White.
Mohamed Salah displayed his trademark strength to hold off his marker and poke home what ended up being the winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s 70th minute free kick, although the Anfield crowd were forced to weather the visitor’s furious fight back in the final 20 minutes.
Liverpool’s new shape that sees Trent Alexander-Arnold take on the trendy inverted full back role was unable to provide the defensive solidity of recent weeks. Forest used the long throw to cause chaos in the back line, utilizing it to score both of their goals and spamming the tactic in their quest for a third equalizer until Reds supporters were begging for their defenders to put the ball anywhere but the sideline.
Klopp agreed after the match that it was a hard-fought victory and that the long throws had been a real issue.
“They made us work hard for that,” the Liverpool boss admitted. “Especially when the ball was out. That’s when the game really started. The throw-ins created a proper mess for us.
“You can prepare a lot in football, but for this, we weren’t prepared well enough. We are prepared now!”
“I’m really happy. We showed a lot of things I wanted to see. We needed to score to change the way Forest played, if we don’t score then they just sit deep.”
Overall, the German was proud of the fight showed by his side, as the Reds struck back within five minutes after each conceded equalizer in a season where they have too often crumbled when challenged.
“We reacted twice, our goals were super smart,” Klopp continued. “But we could have controlled the game better.
“I liked that we stayed in the game and all this chaos around the throw-ins which you have to try to avoid. Too many situations, we couldn’t clear properly but apart from that I am really pleased with a lot of things.”
It remains an uphill battle for the Champions League places. Liverpool are in seventh in the table, but eighth-placed Brighton have two games in hand and only a point behind. Aston Villa, a point ahead in sixth, were held today against Brentford, while Tottenham and Newcastle are three and six points ahead respectively but also with games in hand.
“I told the boys at half-time that we’d had this kind of game hundreds of times,” Klopp said. “We have to fight for the moment to decide it. We needed three [goals to win], but that’s fine. To show consistency we have to keep going, it’ll be a tough game vs West Ham [on Wednesday]. We have to be ready.
“Honestly top four at the moment, we have nothing to do with it we will see about that in a few weeks. The rest we have no influence.
We take it game by game and we have West Ham next which is really tough and then we go from there but it will be tough again, but I am happy we got all three points again.