The defensive unit faltered, but Darwin Nunez was impressive on debut as Liverpool held Fulham to a 2-2 draw in their opening Premier League fixture.
Liverpool came into the contest as the resounding favourite to clinch an opening weekend win over Fulham at Craven Cottage. But Fulham, who had troubled Liverpool considerably in their most recent Premier League campaign, took the game to their visitors, controlling the proceedings for most of the match’s opening quarter.
But Liverpool slowly started to ebb away at Fulham, with Luis Diaz posing the greatest threat for his side. That is when Fulham struck, as Kenny Tete crossed the ball in for Aleksandar Mitrovic, who overpowered Trent Alexander-Arnold to break the deadlock just after the half-hour mark.
The hosts successfully kept Liverpool at bay for the following half an hour and started the second half strongly. But Liverpool got back on level terms through Darwin Nunez, who had looked bright upon his introduction in the 51st minute. However, while the Reds were on top by now, Fulham went ahead for the second time against the run of play when Virgil van Dijk fouled Mitrovic inside the box.
The Fulham striker stepped up to take the resulting penalty and made no error in converting from the spot. That is where Fulham’s influence in the final third ended, with Liverpool throwing the kitchen sink to level the scores again. And the visitors reaped the rewards of their efforts when Mohamed Salah, whose snapshot from Nunez’s controlled ball made it 2-2.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 6, 2022
Liverpool tried to find the equaliser in the final ten minutes, but Fulham shut the gates superbly with clever substitutions. The Reds dropped two points in the end, but the Cottagers deserved the draw after a dogged performance. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jurgen Klopp’s men.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Alisson endured a frustrating afternoon as he could not have done anything to keep out either of Aleksandar Mitrovic’s efforts. Otherwise, the Liverpool goalkeeper barely had anything to do, with Fulham not testing him much.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 4/10
Alexander-Arnold was far from his best on Saturday as he struggled against the trickery of Bobby Reid. To make matters worse, Mitrovic overpowered him when the Serbian striker put Fulham ahead in the first half. The English international finally started to grow into the game when Reid shifted to the right flank, and his floating ball opened the play sufficiently for Salah’s equaliser.
Joel Matip: 6/10
Matip was the best Liverpool defender on the day, although that does not say much as he had his struggles against Mitrovic at times. But the veteran defender held his own, completing numerous defensive actions while playing out from the back efficiently in the face of the relentless Fulham press.
Virgil van Dijk: 4/10
Virgil van Dijk played his part in Liverpool conceding twice, as he fouled Mitrovic to concede the penalty that the Serbian striker converted with consummate ease. Liverpool might feel that the call from the referee was harsh, but the Dutchman had got a touch on the Fulham attacker. Other than that moment, van Dijk endured a mixed bag of a game as he struggled against the Fulham press but was imperious in the air.
Mitrovic is the FIRST player to dribble past Virgil van Dijk and cause him to concede a penalty in a Premier League game ? pic.twitter.com/qVVrJk1k3f
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) August 6, 2022
Andrew Robertson: 4/10
Robertson seemed to struggle due to the harsh conditions hampering England all summer. But there is no excuse for the Scottish international constantly giving too much space to either Tete or Neeskens Kebano on his flank. And on one such instance, Tete crossed in for Fulham’s opener. His output on the ball also left a lot to be desired as he barely created a chance from his side.
Jordan Henderson: 6/10
Henderson endured a frustrating game on Saturday, as Mitrovic troubled him by dropping deep to help Fulham with the press. But the Liverpool captain relentlessly looked to push Liverpool forward and played a joint-game-high two key passes. Henderson also came closer to scoring with a long-range effort in the second half, but his strike hit the crossbar.
Fabinho was not at his best as he lost the ball carelessly a few times while struggling to cover the backline efficiently. But the Brazilian was at his best when he defended from the front, although he needs to put in a lot of work before getting back to optimum levels.
Thiago Alcantara: 5.5/10
Thiago endured a game to forget as Fulham’s press frustrated him and forced him to play well within himself. But to make matters worse, the Spanish international became the latest Liverpool player to sustain an injury, taking the Reds’ roster troubles into double digits.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
Salah has been directly involved in 13 Premier League goals on the opening day of the season.
Another opening day, another Salah goal & assist. pic.twitter.com/wIofGEMqAj
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 6, 2022
Salah had a game of two halves as he was sluggish in the opening period, with Antonee Robinson containing him superbly and pinning him to the right flank. But the Liverpool talisman started to grow into the proceedings after the break before setting up Darwin Nunez for the first equaliser. He saved the best for last as he scored in the opening weekend for a record-extending sixth year in a row to earn Liverpool a point.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Firmino started ahead of Darwin Nunez against Fulham, but the Brazilian attacker was well off his best. He barely got into the Fulham box, and dropping deep did not have the same effect he intended apart from adding bodies in the middle of the park. He might be on to the bench next week.
Luis Diaz: 7/10
Diaz was a bundle of energy throughout his outing against Fulham. The Colombian international looked like the only player who might produce something of note for Liverpool and came excruciatingly close to scoring in the first half. On another day, he would have celebrated a brace.
Darwin Nunez: 8/10
Liverpool didn't have a shot on target against Fulham until Darwin Nunez was subbed on.
From his introduction, the Uruguayan was directly involved in all of Liverpool's shots on target (4) vs. Fulham.
1 goals & 1 assist. ? pic.twitter.com/od78PuFzh6
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) August 6, 2022
Nunez made an immediate impact off the bench, although he was a tad-bit sloppy in the first few minutes. But there was no stopping the Uruguayan striker once he found his feet, as he came close to scoring with a cheeky backheel flick before finding the back of the net with the same routine. Nunez then set Salah up inadvertently when he brought the ball down before Salah netted the equaliser.
Harvey Elliott: 7/10
Elliott replaced the injured Thiago in the 51st minute, and he produced an energetic display versus his former club. The ex-Fulham prodigy showed some nice movement while opening up play nicely with a few passes. Elliott was also involved in the second Liverpool goal.
James Milner: 7/10
Milner was efficient in his performance as he circulated possession smartly. While Fulham’s press troubled him at times, the veteran midfielder helped calm things down when the hosts threatened to run away with a win.
Fabio Carvalho: N/A
Carvalho did not play enough to warrant a rating. But it is worth noting that he started the move that ended with Salah scoring the equaliser late in the game.