LONDON — New boys Fulham held Liverpool at Craven Cottage in a delightful topsy-turvy clash on the opening weekend of the new season.
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Aleksandar Mitrovic twice gave Fulham the lead but Liverpool fought back as Darwin Nunez scored one and set up Mohamed Salah for another.
This is not the start to the season Premier League title hopefuls Liverpool would have wanted but Marco Silva and Fulham will be delighted with grabbing a point.
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What we learned from Fulham vs Liverpool
Maybe Aleksandar Mitrovic can do it in the Premier League? He powered home a trademark header for his first and slotted home a penalty for this second (after his fancy footwork bamboozled Virgil van Dijk, of all people) and he has two goals in his first Premier League game this season. He had three in 27 appearances the last time Fulham were in the top-flight. After breaking the Championship single-season scoring record last season (43 goals) many believed Mitrovic just isn’t up to playing in the PL. He still had a few dodgy moments in the run of play (his mistake lead to the attack where Liverpool made it 2-2) but in terms of putting the ball in the back of the net, Mitro was indeed, once again, on fire.
Darwin Nunez inspires sloppy Liverpool
Early in the second half Darwin Nunez jumped off the bench and Liverpool’s attack sparked into life. He scored one and set up another as his presence in the penalty box caused Fulham so many problems. The Uruguayan made a huge impact and it seems that Roberto Firmino’s days as a starter are surely numbered.
Fulham’s new signings make big difference
Marco Silva has bemoaned Fulham’s lack of transfer activity so far this summer and mistakes from Tosin and Tim Ream proved his point about needing a few more center backs. However, Andreas Pereira and Joao Palhinha were excellent in midfield with the former making surging runs forward and the latter plugging gaps expertly. With Bernd Leno to come in too, if Fulham can add a center back of real quality, this will have been a really good window with quality over quantity the main aim.
Fulham’s intensity in the first half totally blew Liverpool away and the Reds struggled to recover. They still created big chances but Luis Diaz hit the post in the first half and their final pass or finish was just off until Darwin Nunez came on. Nunez coming on sparked Liverpool into life in attack and rescued a point for them. For Fulham, Palhinha was dominant in midfield and Pereira didn’t give Fabinho a moment of peace as he surged forward time and again to support Mitrovic. Fulham’s energy was incredible but they couldn’t keep it up for the entire game. However, if they keep playing with that kind of intensity in the first 45 minutes this season, few teams will be able to live with that.
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Stars of the show
Joao Palhinha: Fantastic energy in midfield and great positioning to break up Liverpool’s rhythm. The new signing from Sporting Lisbon looks like a bit of a bargain.
Darwin Nunez: Jumped off the bench to score and assist and scared the you know what out of Fulham’s defense. He looks so hungry and will surely start Liverpool’s next game.
Fulham head to Wolves next Saturday, Aug. 13, while Liverpool host Crystal Palace on Monday, Aug. 15.