Well that was certainly something! It looked like Liverpool were headed to a disasterclass early on with Trent Alexander-Arnold misplaying a ball that lead to a Newcastle goal and then Virgil van Dijk being sent off for denial of a goal scoring opportunity. The Reds never stopped battling, however, and Darwin Núñez scored a late brace to steal a win at St. James Park.
Below, we take a look at some winners and losers on the night, and attempt to disentangle narrative from fact.
A lot of people thought Darwin Núñez would get the start against Newcastle, but he was left on the bench until the 77th minute. Núñez didn’t wait long to make his presence known, scoring just 5 minutes after entering the fray. He got a lucky bounce or two off of Sven Botman to let the ball run through to him, but Darwin made no mistake with his finish to the far post.
The Chaos Himbo wasn’t finished, however. Two minutes into extra time, he broke forward yet again, this time being played in with a sublime pass from Mohamed Salah. Núñez again left no doubt with a good finish to the far post to steal a win for Liverpool.
While Núñez will rightly be lauded for the brace to win the match, Alisson should receive equal billing for making shore Liverpool did not lose. The Brazilian netminder made a sensational save off of a powerful volley by Miguel Almiron to keep Newcastle from taking a two goal lead just after Virgil van Dijk was sent off. Alisson went on to make several more important stops, and showed strong hands to make sure there were no rebounds that leaked out to attackers. He finished with 7 saves for the match.
The Hungarian midfielder wasn’t quite as influential with Liverpool playing down a man for over 60 minutes, but he again showed off a massive engine to influence the match on both ends of the pitch and was really the only bright spot outside of Alisson for much of the match. Per whoscored.com, he finished with 1 key pass, 2 shots, 3 dribbles, and 3 tackles. He also put some fantastic service into the box from set piece situations.
The 20 year old center back made his Premier League debut, entering in the 77th minute with Liverpool down a man and down a goal. Quansah slotted in and didn’t look out of place. He made a couple of key interventions, including a big tackle.
Jota doesn’t have the speed of Mo, the flash of Luis Diaz, or the chaos vibes of Darwin Núñez, but Liverpool often just look BETTER when Jota is involved. Down a man, the Portuguese striker came on in the 57th minute and helped solidify the left flank. His smart movement on and off the ball created problems for Newcastle, and created some pockets of space for others to exploit.
Virgil van Dijk
You can debate all day long whether you think Virgil should have been called for a foul (I’d have been braying bloody murder if it went uncalled for Liverpool), but if the foul is called, it will always be a red card for denial of a goal scoring opportunity.
Oof. It was a rough start for the Liverpool right back. He was blatantly shoved in the back by Anthony Gordon, but no foul was given and Trent threw the ball about 5 yards onto the field. It wasn’t much, but the silly automatic “delay of game” emphasis meant he was shown a yellow card in just the 6th minute. Just a minute later he put his arm up to the shoulder of Gorden as the former Everton player tried to run past him, and Gordon predictably did a dead fish impression to try and draw a second yellow. A card wasn’t produced, but John Brooks made it clear that Trent was walking a tight rope. After that, the right back looked like he was in his own head. He sent several passes horribly astray, and then he lost his concentration and had the ball run under his foot as Gordon ran through to collect it and score in the 25th minute.
Dissecting The Narrative
Yet again, much of the narrative around the match was around the refereeing. Most of the discussion will be around John Brooks showing Virgil van Dijk a straight red card for a denial of goal scoring opportunity foul outside the box on Alexander Isak. While Liverpool fans won’t like to hear it, that was the correct call. Virgil made a legitimate attempt to play the ball, but he clearly clipped Isak’s leg before poking the ball away. A lot of people are pointing to special cases where a red card would NOT be shown for a DOGSO foul, including an player attempting to play the ball.
It is important to note that these cases only occur if the foul happens in the box and a penalty is awarded. Just above that language is the important bit in this case. A red card must be shown if the foul occurs outside the box when:
- denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent whose overall movement is towards the offender’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick
It’s a much lower bar than the case in the box. I’m honestly more frustrated by Brooks allowing Joelinton to be given a warning for persistent fouling midway through the first half, and then continue to make another 15 or so fouls without a booking.
What Happens Next
Liverpool will return home to host Aston Villa next Sunday as the Reds look to extend their 14-match unbeaten streak. In the interim, we’ll have the distraction of the transfer window closing on Friday, so that should be fun.