Salah strikes but Liverpool held by impressive Cottagers

Liverpool twice came from behind against newly-promoted Fulham, as a late Mohamed Salah goal saw the Reds avoid a first Premier League (PL) opening day defeat since 2012 at Craven Cottage. 

The hosts dominated the first half, as Aleksandar Mitrović poked wide from the edge of the area and Harrison Reed also struck tamely at Alisson Becker. In fact, it wasn’t until midway through the first half, when Marek Rodák denied Andrew Robertson and a curling Luis Díaz effort was ruled out for offside that Fulham were reminded of their opponents’ attacking quality. But the newly-promoted side pushed on, undeterred and brave, as their gung-ho approach got its reward. Mitrović climbed highest to outjump Trent Alexander-Arnold at the back post and head home a cross from Kenny Tete in trademark fashion. A moment of brilliance almost pulled Liverpool level, as Díaz shifted the ball onto his left, creating an inch of space to find a wicked shot that hammered off the post, but Fulham stood tall and deservedly led at the break. 

The introduction of new-signing Darwin Núñez brought a spark to Liverpool’s play in the second half, but Fulham should have had a second when Neeskens Kebano thundered an effort against the post. Instead, Núñez made Fulham pay when he flicked home a cross from Salah to expertly equalise with his second goal in two competitive matches for Liverpool. The Uruguayan international might have had a second had Tim Ream not been alert to clear the ball off the line, but it was Fulham who restored their lead. Virgil van Dijk conceded a PL penalty for the first time since 2018 after a clumsy challenge, with Mitrović on hand to convert from 12 yards. 

An opening day victory looked on the horizon for Fulham, but Liverpool’s quality told when Salah tapped home from close range late on, and Jordan Henderson was later inches away from a winner when the Liverpool skipper struck the crossbar in stoppage time. Having been relegated in each of their last three top-flight campaigns, Marco Silva’s outfit showed this season could be different by more than holding their own in the West London sun. Fulham and Mitrović are back in the PL, and Liverpool, despite the late chances, were lucky to leave with a point.

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