Liverpool’s 2022 Carabao Cup final hero Caoimhin Kelleher will be more than happy to stay out of the limelight at Wembley.

The Republic of Ireland international scored what turned out to be the winning spot-kick after a goalless final against Sunday’s opponents Chelsea in an epic shoot-out which finished 11-10 when Kelleher’s opposite number Kepa Arrizabalaga blazed over, the only failure from either side.

It was fitting for the Irishman, who has been Liverpool’s League Cup goalkeeper for the last few seasons, but he would prefer a quieter afternoon this time around.

“To be fair, I was just in the moment. I didn’t even realise it was my go and I looked at the lads and they were pointing at me,” said Kelleher.

“I didn’t have much to think so I just ended up smashing it in.”

Asked whether he had practised his penalties again he added: “I’ve done bits and bobs but I’m hoping we win it in the 90 minutes. I think it’s easier for the fans.

“I have great memories from the cup. I think the clear thing will be the penalty, that is a really nice moment.

“Then after Chelsea missed their penalty, our celebration with the fans and the team was a special moment and one I’ll never forget and hopefully we can recreate something similar on Sunday.

“It was a good experience to look back on but I’m just trying to focus on getting good results.”

Kelleher is set for his longest run in the team as first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who has already missed the last three matches with a hamstring injury, is sidelined until after next month’s international break.

As back-up the 25-year-old has never played more than three consecutive games for the club but, after a similar run in November and December when Alisson was injured, he now has a chance to play a big part in the quest for silverware as the club continue to fight on four fronts.

“It can only help having a run of games as it gets you in a good rhythm and it fills me with confidence playing week in, week out,” he added.

“It’s good for me as I can get that rhythm and that relationship with the team. It can only help.”

Alisson is one of a significant number of absences, which includes Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota and Curtis Jones, with Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Dominik Szoboszlai facing late fitness tests.

Liverpool’s midweek win over Luton showed how much their resources were stretched, with three defenders and five academy players on the bench, but assistant manager Pep Lijnders said there would be no excuses made.

“I think the good thing we always did in the past is look at what we have,” he said.

“It’s also good in life to just accept what you have and don’t look (at) what you don’t have, so that’s what we are trying to do.

“It brought us success in the past, so we try to keep that up.

“This season is a season where we created already three or four new teams in one season – that didn’t happen a lot in the last years.

“It’s a compliment for our squad, it’s a compliment for the academy.”

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk admits the team was probably guilty of trying too hard to compensate for the absence of a host of star players in the 4-1 victory over Luton.

Forwards Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were the latest added to an absentee list, which had grown to 11 senior players and left manager Jurgen Klopp short of options, certainly of match-winners, as his bench comprised three defenders and four academy players.

The likes of Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo, and to a lesser extent Luis Diaz, all struggled up front in the first half, but four goals in an impressive second-half comeback after going behind in the 12th minute re-established a four-point advantage at the top of the Premier League.

Klopp’s side have won now 22 points from losing positions this season, more than any other team.

“First half with the very first chance (for Diaz) we could have changed the game, but we were a bit rushed in the final third,” said Van Dijk.

“Obviously the way we turned it around was credit to the boys.

“Staying calm is the most difficult thing to do, especially in the situation where we are at; everyone wants to show themselves and play their best game ever, and you have to try to stay calm and find the right solution.

“The first half was a bit rushed and that’s why we struggled a little bit in that sense. Being 1-0 down is never nice, but the way we bounced back is good to see.”

Elliott, on his 100th appearance, scored the team’s 100th goal of the season with the late fourth to end his night on a high after coming in for some vociferous criticism from the crowd.

However, Klopp – who remonstrated with a fan who appeared to target Elliott after yet another pass went astray in the first half – defended the 20-year-old.

“Top performance. And Harvey is a top player; 100 games for Liverpool FC in not the worst period of the club’s history, where you cannot afford players who (just) play the position, that’s a proper sign,” he added.

“He had not a great first half. There was a pass with Lucho (Diaz); I saw he wants to play the pass instead of maybe he can go in a one-on-one situation.

“But the reaction in the second half is the main difference, that’s the thing. That made this performance the performance and I’m so happy for him.

“I don’t lose patience in these moments, I know that it’s a challenge for young boys.

“When everything is great, they are super talents. When things don’t go well, you have to show up. And that’s what he’s learning more and more.

“And with 100 games under his belt, we all know he will definitely play another 100, 200, 300 – if you ask him, 500 – for this club.”

Mohamed Salah scored on his Premier League return as Liverpool eased to a 4-1 win at Brentford.

Coming off the bench for his first appearance since injuring a hamstring on duty with Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, he netted his side’s third goal moments after making a brilliant assist for Alexis Mac Allister to make it 2-0.

Darwin Nunez had opened the scoring with a superbly-taken chip to cap a wonderful counter attack in the first half as Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders ensure they would finish the weekend still on top.

Ivan Toney continued his goalscoring form since returning from his gambling ban to briefly give Brentford hope at 3-1.

It was a fleeting moment of optimism, quickly extinguished when substitute Cody Gakpo stroked home Liverpool’s fourth in the closing minutes.

Mohamed Salah will be the Liverpool player to watch as Jurgen Klopp leaves the club, with Stephen Warnock wondering if the superstar winger's sale might represent "an opportunity" in the Anfield rebuild.

Hugely popular Liverpool manager Klopp announced last week this season will be his last at Liverpool, departing after almost nine years on Merseyside.

Klopp's coaching staff are following him out of the club, while sporting director Jorg Schmadtke is to exit at the end of the January transfer window.

The shock announcement of Klopp's decision leaves Liverpool with lots to do before the next campaign, and calls may have to be made around some of the key men who have made the manager's tenure such a success.

For Warnock, who played for the Reds under Rafael Benitez, Salah's situation is particularly interesting.

The prolific winger has previously been linked with a move to the Saudi Pro League, and his contract expires in 2025.

"I think more so Salah than anyone," Warnock told Stats Perform. "Just because of the age, the Saudi interest... what does he now do?

"Who comes into the football club as manager? What do they see this position as? Do they think it's an opportunity to cash in and maybe rebuild a little bit more and add more quality to the quality that's already there?"

Liverpool might consider their options, but the same is true of Salah and his team-mates, who Warnock expects to be "absolutely devastated" by Klopp's announcement.

"There's not many more managers that you'd want to work for," he added. "If you could have a choice of managers to pick the phone up, he's in your top five, isn't he? Of managers in world football, arguably your top two.

"So, when you look at it like that from a player's point of view, they'll be absolutely devastated, because they know they're working with arguably one of the best managers in world football, then who comes in to replace him?"

That is a concern for the end of the season, though, and in the meantime, Liverpool have the opportunity to send Klopp out on a high as they pursue four trophies, including another Premier League title.

"There is a job to be done," Warnock said. "It's not a swansong and just a happy-go-lucky atmosphere. This is you going for a Premier League title.

"But you're also going up against top teams. You're going up against Manchester City, who've got arguably one of the best managers in world football and probably the best squad and team of players.

"So, there's a job at hand to do as well. Whether it inspires the team or not, we'll never know, because they were in the race anyway, but it might just give them that little extra boost that they need."

Liverpool’s assistant manager Pep Lijnders has insisted Mohamed Salah’s commitment should never be doubted after his imminent return from the Africa Cup of Nations to have treatment on a hamstring injury provoked criticism.

The Egypt captain will fly back from the Ivory Coast on Wednesday so the club’s medical staff can take care of his rehabilitation, with the hope he could rejoin the national team should they reach the latter stages of the tournament.

That move has drawn criticism from Egypt’s record caps-holder Ahmed Hassan, who said Salah should have stayed with the team “even if he only had one leg to stand on”, but Lijnders has sprung to the 31-year-old’s defence.

“The one you should never doubt the commitment of is Mo Salah,” he said.

“I never met a guy, a player but also a human being, who is more committed to the life of being a professional football player.

“I know the country is devastated to lose him. We were devastated to hear he got injured.

“He played the first game, scores, assists, (he’s) captain and massively important, of course, but the only reason our medical team and their medical team decided for him to come back is to give the best possible chance to be available if Egypt make the final.

“What I’m really happy about is the medical team of Egypt and Liverpool Football Club worked together, were really in close contact and they made this decision together.

“It is an example of how international football and club football should co-operate to put the player in the centre and not the targets of everyone because it is a conflict of interest.

“All of us made the decision which is best for him and for him the best is having a stable environment, knowing the people and having people who are committed and have the time to focus on his rehab process and we know how it will go here in this facility.”

Mohamed Salah was in the stands to watch Egypt scrape into the last 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations with a breathless 2-2 draw with Cape Verde.

The striker stayed on to watch his countrymen in their crucial final Group B match before flying back to Liverpool for treatment on a muscle injury.

He will have feared the worst with the Pharaohs staring at an early exit after falling behind to a goal from Gilson Tavares for the surprise group winners.

But substitute Trezeguet hauled them level and Mostafa Mohamed fired them ahead at the start of stoppage time.

The Blue Sharks then rocked Egypt by equalising through Bryan Teixeira, but Ghana being pegged back 2-2 by Mozambique meant the Pharaohs clung on to second place.

With Cape Verde having already topped the group, Egypt were hoping they might not play with the same intensity that brought them two wins out of two.

Cape Verde goalkeeper Vozinha saved from Mohamed and Omar Marmoush while Zizo fired narrowly wide.

But in first-half stoppage time and with Cape Verde’s first real opportunity, the surprise package took the lead.

Ryan Mendes headed the ball into the path of Tavares, who turned sharply before crashing his shot low into the net.

Trezeguet should have equalised moments after coming on as a half-time substitute but he blazed his shot over the crossbar.

But the Trabzonspor midfielder made his mark three minutes later when he played a brilliant one-two with Ahmed Hegazy before lashing an angled shot past Vozinha.

Trezeguet almost immediately put Egypt ahead but drilled his shot across Vozinha and wide.

Mohamed had a golden chance from Trezeguet’s cross but agonisingly lifted his effort over the top.

But two minutes into stoppage time Mohamed chased on to a ball over the top and lifted it over Vozinha.

A dramatic victory seemed to have been secured but there was still time for Teixeira to fire an equaliser in the ninth minute of added time, although somehow Egypt could still celebrate qualification in the most nail-biting circumstances.

Egypt captain Mohamed Salah was forced off with an injury before his side twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with Ghana in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Egypt and Liverpool fans face an anxious wait to discover the extent of the problem after the 31-year-old was forced off in the last minute of the first half of a thrilling Group B contest.

Salah slumped dejectedly to the ground with an apparent muscle injury and, after briefly being attended to by Egypt’s medical staff, handed over the armband to defender Ahmed Hegazi as he was replaced by Mostafa Fathi.

To add insult to injury, moments later West Ham forward Mohammed Kudus broke the deadlock in brilliant fashion as he held off the attentions of three defenders before drilling a left-footed shot into the bottom corner.

Salah, who scored a stoppage-time equaliser from the penalty spot as Egypt drew 2-2 with Mozambique in their first group game, had earlier been involved in a furious row with referee Pierre Atcho after Omar Marmoush went down in the area.

Salah appeared to be appealing for a penalty despite a free-kick being given against Marmoush and the former was perhaps fortunate not to be shown a yellow card for his vehement protests.

Despite the loss of Salah, Egypt started the second half well and had a goal disallowed for offside in the 51st minute before the impressive Marmoush was gifted the chance to equalise.

The 24-year-old pounced on a woeful backpass from Inaki Williams and calmly rounded goalkeeper Richard Ofori before sliding the ball into an empty net from a narrow angle.

Parity lasted just two minutes however, Kudus receiving a pass from Denis Odoi in the area and seeing his left-footed shot take a slight deflection off the unfortunate Mohamed Abdelmonem and beyond goalkeeper Mohamed El Shenawy.

The breathless action showed no signs of slowing and Egypt equalised for the second time just three minutes later, with Ghana again guilty of contributing to their own downfall.

Osman Bukari was dispossessed by Trezeguet on the right-hand side of his own area and the Trabzonspor midfielder drove to the byline before pulling the ball back for Mostafa Mohamed to stab home.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp admitted he would be happy for Mohamed Salah and Wataru Endo’s international absences to be kept to a minimum as his side begin their fight on three fronts in January.

Salah is away with Egypt in the African Nations Cup, while Japan captain Endo is at the Asian Cup and both players are expected to go deep into the respective competitions.

That could mean a return in the second week of February but Klopp said he sent them on their way this week without wishing them too much success.

“I said if I wish you good luck it would be a lie,” he said ahead of the FA Cup tie at Arsenal.

“From a personal point of view, I would be happy if they go out in the group stage but that’s probably not possible. They can go on and win it.

“So it was ‘good luck and come back healthy’. We have to deal with it and we will deal with it. I am pretty positive that we will find a way.”

It is impossible to have a like-for-like replacement for Salah as he is one of a kind but Klopp does not really have a suitable player in the right-winger mould to take his place.

Midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai was touted as a potential option but he has been ruled out for at least two matches with a hamstring injury sustained in the New Year’s Day win over Newcastle.

“I can confirm it’s not a potential injury – it is an injury. Muscle, hamstring. But now we have to see,” added Klopp.

“Dom is very positive, doesn’t have a lot of pain but we have to wait a little bit. So, no chance obviously for Sunday, not for Wednesday (the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg at home to Fulham).

“And then we will see. After that, hopefully he might be back but we don’t know.”

Nevertheless Klopp was confident Liverpool could fill the hole left by Salah, even if he could not hope to replicate the Egypt international’s goal involvement.

“I think we played against West Ham (in last month’s Carabao Cup quarter-final) without Mo on that side and Harvey Elliott played there,” he said.

“We have different offensive options who can all play that wing in a different way.

“Nobody else can play like Mo, it is not possible – we just have to use the boys with their skills.

“Do we want to play without Mo? No. In the past we didn’t have to do it often but we always found a way.

“But we play Arsenal and you can lose to Arsenal with Mo Salah so it’s possible to lose to them without him.”

Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo admitted it was difficult to leave Merseyside for the Asian Cup just when he had started to really find his form.

The Japan captain, a £16million signing from Stuttgart, started the last six matches as he deputised for the injured Alexis Mac Allister and that regular rhythm undoubtedly helped the 30-year-old find his feet after a tough introduction to English football.

But the New Year’s Day win over Newcastle – that extended Liverpool’s lead at the top of the Premier League table to three points – was Endo’s last game for a month as he flies out to Qatar to begin preparations for the tournament which begins next Friday.

 

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A post shared by 遠藤 航 (Wataru Endo) (@endowataru)

 

Unlike Mohamed Salah, who is now away with Egypt at the African Nations Cup, when he returns, Endo will have lost his place to Mac Allister, who has been first choice in the holding role all season, and will have lost the momentum he built up.

“Of course I want to stay here but as a national team player it is important for me as I am captain. I am now focused on the national team and just doing my best,” said Endo.

“I want to have good results at the Asia Cup, but that’ll mean I have to stay longer in Qatar.

“But Macca has come back now, so I can just stay focused on the national team. I’m sure we (Liverpool) will play well, 100 per cent.

“I want to come back with the Asia Cup title. I’m confident Liverpool can do well in the absence of me and Mo.”

Endo’s late arrival in mid-August meant his integration into the side took longer and, as a result, he was mainly restricted to starts in the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

However, Mac Allister’s injury and a heavy December workload meant manager Jurgen Klopp had little option but to play him every week and that made a significant difference.

“It has been the toughest Christmas and New Year in my life but to play football is amazing so I’ve enjoyed it also,” Endo added.

“It’s a very tough schedule but I needed to keep playing. Playing the games is the most important way for me to improve.

“We have so many injured players. I was thinking, I am a very important player on the pitch so I needed to show why I came here.

“I think the team played well and I also played better than before and we are now top of the table so I feel I did my job. I feel like I’ve got to grips more with playing in England.

“Confidence is a big thing also. The manager has shown a lot of faith in me. The other players know me better now as well, that’s also important for me to play better.”

Liverpool have recalled 20-year-old James Balagizi from his loan spell at Wigan, where he made just seven appearances – only three of which were in League One.

Premier League clubs will lose key players to international duty over the next few weeks.

The Asia Cup in Qatar runs from January 12 to February 10, while the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in Ivory Coast from January 13 to February 11.

Here the PA news agency looks at how those tournaments could impact domestic football during a busy time of Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup action, and discover who are the big winners and losers.

Oh Mo, Salah’s away

Study the stats and it is easy to see why Liverpool fans have every right to be concerned. Mohamed Salah tops the list for Premier League goal involvements with 22 – 14 goals and eight assists. Salah registered a 150th Premier League goal for Liverpool with a brace in the New Year’s Day win over Newcastle, and his absence comes with the Reds top of the pile, in the semi-final of the Carabao Cup and ready to get their FA Cup campaign underway. Just for good measure, Liverpool will be without Japan midfielder Wataru Endo over the next few weeks.

Spurs without Son

Tottenham have maintained their unexpected title bid despite a lengthy injury list, but can they cope without talismanic skipper Son Heung-min? The South Korea captain heads to the Asia Cup with Spurs fifth in the Premier League, a point behind neighbours Arsenal and Manchester City and six adrift of Liverpool. Son’s importance is underlined by his 12 league goals – only Salah and Erling Haaland have scored more – while Spurs will also be weakened by AFCON-bound midfielders Pape Sarr and Yves Bissouma.

Premier League losers

If Liverpool and Tottenham are missing headline acts, there are plenty of other losers. Manchester United will be without their first-choice goalkeeper, Cameroon’s Andre Onana, and Turkey international Altay Bayindir is set to make his debut in his absence. Wolves will also feel the loss of South Korea’s Hwang Hee-chan, their 10-goal top scorer, while Antoine Semenyo (Bournemouth), Yoane Wissa (Brentford), Nicolas Jackson (Chelsea), Jordan Ayew (Crystal Palace), Alex Iwobi (Fulham) and Mohammed Kudus (West Ham) are among high-profile AFCON players, while Nottingham Forest have no less than six players at the tournament.

Burnley boost

South Africa striker Lyle Foster will miss AFCON as he focuses on his well being. Foster has received specialist care for his mental health this season and did not play for eight weeks before returning last month. Burnley boss Vincent Kompany said Foster was not ready to travel to represent his country. But he will be available for the Clarets, and that spells good news as the 23-year-old scored his first goal since his return to action at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Champions City and Newcastle unaffected

As well as Burnley in their battle against relegation, champions Manchester City and Newcastle do not have any players away on international duty. Pep Guardiola’s City will hope to take advantage of a Salah-less Liverpool, as Arsenal cope without Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny and Japan defender Takehiro Tomiyasu. Aston Villa have only lost Burkina Faso’s Bertrand Traore. Newcastle boss Eddie Howe will be relieved his squad has not been weakened further as he seeks to engineer a New Year revival on Tyneside amid worrying injury issues.

David Moyes was frustrated at not being able to pick Mohammed Kudus for West Ham’s goalless draw against Brighton.

Ghana forward Kudus, arguably West Ham’s best player this season, was unavailable due to his forthcoming participation at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yet Egypt’s Mohamed Salah was able to play for Liverpool against Newcastle 24 hours earlier, scoring twice in a 4-2 win before the deadline for players to link up with their countries.

In a thinly-disguised dig at the Premier League’s schedulers and the decision to move this match for television a day later, Moyes said: “It feels a bit strange that we’re playing on the second of January.

“Could we not have played on the first and allowed our African players to be allowed to play yesterday, because they can’t play today?

“I feel that’s something which isn’t correct. I just think why couldn’t we have our African players the same as everybody else?

“Brighton might have had players at the Asian Games – I know (Kaoru) Mitoma’s injured I think – but they might have the same feeling.

“It’s nothing to do with the performance, Brighton were without lots of good players and we were without lots of good players.

“But I don’t see at this point why you would play a game and be disadvantaged by some of your players not being able to play. I’m not saying any more.”

The decision to move the match for television looked even more baffling as two weary teams fought out a lifeless goalless draw.

Given that it was West Ham’s ninth game in a month, and Brighton’s eighth, the managers would probably have shaken hands on a draw before kick-off and gone to watch the darts instead.

Tomas Soucek stabbed West Ham’s best chance wide but Brighton were the better side after the break, with Hammers keeper Alphonse Areola making fine saves to deny Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana.

“Overall we’ve had a brilliant Christmas period on the points front,” added Moyes, whose side began the year inside the top six. “I’m thrilled to win three, including Arsenal and Manchester United, and draw one. From a points point of view we’ve done really well.

“It’s the first time this season we’ve looked really jaded and tired tonight but all the boys have done a brilliant job. Brighton have been our bogey club in recent years and we’ve taken four points off them this season. But I want it to be better and I know it has to get better.”

Seagulls boss Roberto De Zerbi had little doubt what was missing from his side.

“A goal,” was his simple response.

“Today we deserved to win but we played an amazing game, one of the best in my time.

“West Ham are very good in counter-attack and we played a smart game. I can’t say anything about my players because I’m delighted with the performance.

“We have injuries but we have great character and great spirit.”

Liverpool captain Virgil Van Dijk will not entertain talk of a Premier League title race unless the team can get to March in a similarly-strong position.

A 4-2 victory over Newcastle extended their advantage at the top of the table to three points over Aston Villa but, more significantly, ensured they stayed out of reach of Manchester City five points back, with their match in hand.

January is a significant month for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they do battle on three fronts, starting with an FA Cup third-round tie at Arsenal at the weekend followed by the first tie in a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final at home to Fulham.

Due to the winter mini-break there are actually only two more scheduled league matches before February and that could help their primary aim of adding to the Premier League title they won in 2019-20 as it lessens the impact of the absence of Mohamed Salah, who signed off with two goals before heading to the African Nations Cup with Egypt.

But Van Dijk said they were not looking as far ahead as that.

“I’m not going to speak about any of this, I never did and I won’t do it now either,” he said when asked about the title race.

“It’s far too early to do that. We are at the start of January, we have players leaving now, we have players coming back from injury so let’s see what it brings.

“If in February/March we are still up there, obviously we have to get the last push going and see if we can squeeze it out, but for now we just focus on the game ahead, don’t look at others and try to improve ourselves.

“That’s always been the experience and it brought us one success over the last six years to win the Premier League and hopefully we will see what happens at the end of the season.”

Salah’s departure – having racked up 14 league goals and eight assists – will undoubtedly be felt but it is Klopp’s job to lessen how much.

He does at least have Diogo Jota fit again after a month’s absence, while midfielder Alexis Mac Allister’s return after a six-game absence will offset the loss of Wataru Endo to the Asian Cup.

“Obviously we are going to miss Mo and his qualities, his leadership qualities as well. The situation is how it is and the same goes for Wataru,” added Van Dijk.

“Other players have to step up and stay fit and it was good Jota came back, Macca came back and everyone has to be ready for a big game at the weekend in the FA Cup and then the Carabao Cup and then hopefully a little break again.

“I think December was already a very big month and the way we coped with that was very good in my opinion.

“Now we are going to play in three competitions, we have a chance to go to Wembley if we go through the Carabao Cup and to the next round of the FA Cup but how we approach it is game by game.

“It could be a good month but we will take it game by game and see.”

Mohamed Salah believes Liverpool can win the Premier League after his inspirational display fired the Reds to a crucial yet hard-fought win over Newcastle.

Salah recovered from a first-half penalty miss to score twice and set up another as Jurgen Klopp’s side won a New Year’s Day thriller 4-2 at Anfield to move three points clear at the top.

It was his final game before joining up with Egypt ahead of the upcoming African Cup of Nations.

Salah told Sky Sports: “It’s a great result for us. The game was very intense and we managed to pick up three points and now we are top of the table. We need to stay calm and win every game.”

Asked about his side’s title chances, he added: “We believe a lot. We need to work hard and express ourselves on the field. If we manage to do that and work hard then we can keep winning.”

Salah was pleased not to be signing off from club duty on a low note after seeing a spot-kick – the first of two he had during the game – beaten away by impressive Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

He said: “I missed the pen – I didn’t want to leave with national team with that performance.

“The first one I was confused because the goalkeeper moved, but the second one I did like I did in training.”

Salah opened the scoring with a tap-in early in the second half. That effort was quickly cancelled out by Alexander Isak, but Liverpool took control through Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo.

Sven Botman pulled another back, but Salah wrapped up the win the hosts – who racked up 34 shots – deserved after a foul by Dubravka on Diogo Jota.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said: “Nobody should be really surprised that Mo can change a game. The more goals you have, the more you are used to missing chances and understand what you have to do to keep going and improving, and that was what Mo did.

“It was a super game from start to finish, super high intensity. I loved so many aspects of the game except the goals we conceded.

“It was an unbelievable game with and unbelievable atmosphere.”

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe admitted his side were fortunate to get in goalless at half-time, but he had issues with both spot-kicks given against them.

“I’m still confused over the penalties we conceded. The second one especially didn’t look like a penalty,” he said.

“There are two ways to look at it: the challenge on Sean Longstaff (in the second half) was a pen for me and that changes the game massively and then they go up the other end and it wasn’t (a penalty).”

A fifth defeat in six league matches, and one win in 12 away games, has left Newcastle struggling to stay in reach of the top four.

“We have to do everything we can to protect that confidence so that is why I think we need not to over dramatise things,” Howe added.

“It was a really good performance from Liverpool, they made it very difficult for us – we did well to come in 0-0.

“Take away the penalty moments, the goals we conceded were disappointing.”

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp faces a hugely-significant January without talismanic top scorer Mohamed Salah but is confident he can find an acceptable solution among the attacking options at his disposal.

Salah will leave for the African Cup of Nations after Monday’s visit of Newcastle, the first of at least six matches which includes an FA Cup tie at Arsenal and a two-legged Carabao Cup semi-final with Fulham.

The 16-goal forward, second behind only Erling Haaland in the Premier League goalscoring stakes with 12 in the top flight this season, will link up with Egypt as they head to the Ivory Coast next week and will potentially be away for over a month.

Klopp has had to deal with it in the past and remains confident his side will do so again as they seek to maintain their place as Premier League leaders.

“It is not the first time, it is a really at least very average situation that you lose your goalscorer but we had it even worse in the past when Sadio (Mane) and Mo left,” he said.

“We came somehow through it and traditionally one of them went pretty far in the tournament, which made it worse.

“We knew the Africa Cup of Nations from time to time appears and Mo has to go and we have (Wataru) Endo as a participant of the Asia Cup (played at the same time) as well, so it is like it is. We have to deal with it and we will.

“Each long-term plan I could have had depends massively on who is available so why should I think in October who I can use when Mo is away when I have no clue who is available?

“We would have solutions today, I hope we have that after the Newcastle game as well.”

The timely return of Diogo Jota after a month out injured is a boost as the Portugal international scored a comeback goal against Burnley on Boxing Day.

Jota’s versatility means he can operate across the forward line, as can Cody Gakpo, while Harvey Elliott has played in Salah’s position even though he is more of a midfielder in Klopp’s system.

“The return of each of the boys is super-important but Diogo especially. Everybody was quite positive about our five options, but I don’t think we had it that often to be honest,” added Klopp.

“Especially with the amount of games we play it is so important these boys can rotate and now with Mo leaving and Endo leaving we need everyone to get back.”

On Jota’s return, Klopp said: “The game is blessed with some of these players who really understand the game on a different level and he is one of them.

“It gives him the chance to see the situations slightly earlier, to adapt to different things the opponent is doing a little bit quicker. On top of that, he is both-footed, a great finisher.

“For these last few games, even when the results were not always outstanding, we found a good rhythm, good fluidity, which is really important.

“It gives you a good feeling, you’d probably call it momentum, and for that you need to be connected and be together in the right moment.”

It is not all good news, however, with left-back Andy Robertson’s recovery from a dislocated shoulder likely to keep him out now for the whole of January.

The Scotland captain, sidelined since October, was expected to return next month but that now may be delayed.

“Robbo still needs more range in his shoulder. Obviously it was a big surgery. (He is) still not even close to team training or whatever,” said Klopp.

“For sure, I think, the full January he has to get closer and closer.”

What the papers say

Mohamed Salah remains a target for clubs in the Saudi Pro League but they will have to wait beyond January, according to the Daily Mirror. Liverpool are not expected to agree to a mid-season sale for the 31-year-old forward with bids expected to come in the summer.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is likely to concentrate on loan deals in January, reports the Daily Mirror. The club needs to offload players before making any signings with reinforcements on the cards after a string of injuries.

Steve Cooper has emerged as a potential option as manager at Crystal Palace after his sacking at Nottingham Forest, according to The Daily Telegraph. Roy Hodgson’s future in charge of the club is uncertain.

Crystal Palace are interested in Paris St Germain striker Hugo Ekitike, 21, reports the Evening Standard. Palace have also been linked with Sunderland’s 21-year-old French midfielder Pierre Ekwah.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Dan Gore: Borussia Dortmund are keen on Manchester United’s 19-year-old English winger, reports Football Insider.

Serhou Guirassy: Manchester United, Tottenham and AC Milan are interested in the Guinea striker, 27, who is preparing to leave Stuttgart in January, according to Gazzetta dello Sport in Italy.

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