Sunday Mirror

REDS BLOW JO OT & COLD

Diogo’s late show puts in­dif­fer­ent Liver­pool top

- By DAVID MAD­DOCK at An­field Sports · UEFA Champions League · Soccer · Jordan · West Ham United F.C. · David Moyes · Liverpool Football Club · Jürgen Klopp · Liverpool · Anfield · Portugal national football team · Portugal · Joe Gomez · Sadio Mané · Diogo Jota · Bob Paisley · Pablo Fornals · Andrew Robertson · Arthur Masuaku · Xherdan Shaqiri

THEY are far from their flu­ent best, but Liver­pool in­evitably still found a way to win here, to reach an­other re­mark­able mile­stone in the club’s glit­ter­ing his­tory.

For the third time in a row here in the Premier League they con­ceded first, and looked dis­tinctly weary against a West Ham side set up bril­liantly by David Moyes to cause max­i­mum dam­age on the break.

But if the legs are not ex­actly will­ing, then the Reds’ re­silience re­mains in­tact.

And Diogo Jota’s third goal in a week was enough not only to put them top of the ta­ble, but also to set an as­ton­ish­ing record.

The win means they have now gone 63 league games un­beaten at this fa­mous old sta­dium – equalling the record held by Bob Pais­ley’s team set be­tween 1978-80.

That puts into star­tling con­text what Jur­gen Klopp has achieved with this side, who must go down now as among the best-ever Liver­pool teams.

And if ever a game showed why this team de­serves such an ac­co­lade it was this one. They have now gone be­hind in ALL their league games here this sea­son, and some­how won the lot. That shows a men­tal strength cur­rently un­matched any­where else in world foot­ball.

Slowly, Liver­pool clawed their way back, and even­tu­ally pro­duced enough to claim a supremely hard-fought vic­tory.

Jota was the hero again, his three goals this week all com­ing at An­field, and in three dif­fer­ent games. The Por­tu­gal in­ter­na­tional’s price tag may have been eye-wa­ter­ing, but his con­tri­bu­tion sug­gests it will be money well spent.

An equally-im­por­tant con­tri­bu­tion came from Nat Phillips, mak­ing his Premier League de­but at the age of 23 – show­ing the com­po­sure and aerial abil­ity to solve Klopp’s de­fen­sive headache at cen­tre half.

He won ev­ery­thing in the air, didn’t panic in the face of West Ham’s swift coun­ter­at­tack­ing and showed his worth at the end, with a tow­er­ing header from the fi­nal cor­ner to re­lieve the pres­sure on his side.

Phillips said: “To have that op­por­tu­nity to play was huge for me and huge for my fam­ily. I’m re­ally happy, and even more so to get a good re­sult.”

His fi­nal header had Klopp fist-pump­ing.

And no won­der. The vis­i­tors are in f form and a real dan­ger, and yet Liverp again found a way to win, even with many play­ers miss­ing.

They were lethar­gic in the first half, p even, and yet again con­ceded from the first shot on tar­get af­ter an er­ror from Joe Gomez in the

10th minute. His weak header went back to the cen­tre of the penalty area and Pablo For­nals fin­ished su­perbly.

For­nals carved out two more glo­ri­ous chances to pun­ish the Cham­pi­ons, when first he shot tamely from close range, and then shot against Andy Robert­son, each time with the goal at his mercy. Liver­pool

BADGE OF HON­OUR Diogo Jota touches the Liver­pool badge af­ter (above) net­ting the late win­ner past

Lukasz Fabi­an­ski huffed and puffed, but they even­tu­ally got back into the game just be­fore half-time, when Arthur Ma­suaku kicked at Salah, who went down in in­stal­ments, and then got up to con­vert the penalty.

It was a foul, but per­haps a slightly soft penalty, but that was bal­anced by an­other strange VAR de­ci­sion, when ref­eree Kevin Friend was asked to look again at what ev­ery­one thought was a win­ner for Jota on 77 min­utes.

The of­fi­cial de­cided Sa­dio Mane had fouled keeper Lukasz Fabi­an­ski in the build-up, though it looked harsh.

No mat­ter, be­cause Liver­pool in this mood are re­lent­less, if lack­ing their usual audacious qual­ity. Jota sim­ply got an­other win­ner as fel­low sub Xher­dan Shaqiri sent him through with an ex­quis­ite ball, that got an equally ex­cel­lent fin­ish.

“On the bench I was al­ways think­ing about what I could do to un­lock the re­sult,” said Jota. “I scored two goals – just one counted – and we got the vic­tory.”

A re­lieved Klopp added: “Foot­ball is al­ways about find­ing the right way, and tonight the boys found it. As for Nat Phillips – wow! I couldn’t be more happy.

“He was awake from the first sec­ond, played his stuff and had a good game.”

 ??  ?? FOR-MIDABLE Pablo For­nals cel­e­brates his early goal for West Ham
MAGIC MO­MENT Mo­hamed Salah fires home a penalty af­ter be­ing fouled (left) by Arthur Ma­suaku
FOR-MIDABLE Pablo For­nals cel­e­brates his early goal for West Ham MAGIC MO­MENT Mo­hamed Salah fires home a penalty af­ter be­ing fouled (left) by Arthur Ma­suaku
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 ??  ?? NAT’S THE WAY Nathaniel Phillips gets a hug from Jur­gen Klopp
NAT’S THE WAY Nathaniel Phillips gets a hug from Jur­gen Klopp

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