Liverpool have struggled but Mohamed Salah's still having a season! Winners & losers as Egyptian King combines with Diogo Jota to see off Nottingham Forest

Comments (0)
Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2022-23
Getty Images
Salah's 183rd Reds goal was the difference at Anfield, and moves him level with Robbie Fowler on the club's all-time scoring list.

Liverpool may still be nowhere near as convincing as they would like to be, but boy do they have a special player in Mohamed Salah.

The Reds' Egyptian King, as he has been so often, was decisive at Anfield here, his 70th-minute goal enough to finally see off Nottingham Forest and keep Liverpool's Champions League qualification hopes flickering. It also moves Salah level with Robbie Fowler on the club's all-time scoring list.

With a scoreline of 3-2, this game was as nervy as it sounds. Liverpool led twice through Diogo Jota, whose goalscoring resurgence continues, but Forest twice hit back through deflected strikes, first from ex-Red Neco Williams and then from Morgan Gibbs-White.

But with Anfield tense, up popped Salah, steering home a Trent Alexander-Arnold free-kick in front of the Kop. Goal No.183 of a quite remarkable spell on Merseyside, and enough to give his team a precious, and hard-fought, three points.

GOAL breaks down the winners & losers from Anfield...

  1. WINNER: Mohamed Salah
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Mohamed Salah

    It had to be him. Had to be.

    We've become used to Salah making history at Liverpool. He does it on an almost weekly basis, and now he's busy taking records off another Anfield great, Robbie Fowler.

    At Leeds he became the Premier League's all-time leading scorer of left-footed goals, surpassing Fowler's record of 106, and here he moved level with the former Reds' No.9, the man they call 'God', as the sixth highest goalscorer in the club's history.

    Fowler was a magnificent centre-forward and a clinical finisher, but his 183 strikes came in 369 matches - Salah's have arrived in 298, and been accompanied by 69 assists and every major trophy possible. If that doesn't speak to his greatness, nothing will.

    Most importantly, for Salah and for Liverpool, his goal here delivered three precious points in their push for a top-four finish. The Reds were pretty ordinary for much of this contest, but in Salah they have a quite extraordinary goalscorer, one who has powered their charge for the last six years, and who is showing little sign of slowing down any time soon.

  2. LOSER: Liverpool's defence
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Liverpool's defence

    At half-time here, you'd have gotten good odds on this game ending up as a five-goal thriller.

    'Sterile dominance' might be the best way of describing the opening 45 minutes, Liverpool boasting more than 80 percent possession but testing Forest only through set-plays, with the visitors seemingly content to sit and sit and sit, waiting for something to fall their way.

    It was different after the break. Jota broke the deadlock - a set-piece, of course - but the goal didn't settle Liverpool. Instead, they lost their composure, and their way, pretty badly. Their centre-backs, Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk, were unnerved by Taiwo Awoniyi's physical presence, and Forest were able to cause chaos by getting Orel Mangala to launch a series of quite remarkable long-throws into the Liverpool box. Rory Delap eat your heart out.

    Forest got a bit of luck with their goals, deflections off Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold doing for Alisson Becker, but Jurgen Klopp will be concerned, to say the least, at the way in which a struggling side, one that had scored only five away goals all season prior to today, was able to rattle his team on their home turf.

    A dominant defensive display this most certainly was not. Fortunately, the forwards did their job.

  3. WINNER: Diogo Jota
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Diogo Jota

    Insert standard line about London Buses here, hey?

    Having waited more than a year for a Liverpool goal, Diogo Jota has four in the space of five days now, following up his brace at Leeds with another here.

    Different goals, too. A striker's goals. There was a poacher's effort to break the deadlock, heading in from close range after Fabinho had nodded the ball goalwards, and then a top-class second, controlling Andy Robertson's free-kick before swivelling to volley home low across Keylor Navas. Fowler-style, that one.

    Amazing what a goal can do for a player's confidence, isn't it? Jota looked lost for half an hour at Elland Road, but his perseverance has brought rewards, and the standing ovation he got here when substituted said it all.

    Liverpool's No.20 is back, and that should bring a big smile to Klopp's face.

  4. LOSER: Newcastle and Spurs
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Newcastle and Spurs

    All eyes on St James' Park Sunday, then.

    Liverpool remain very much outsiders for Champions League qualification, but they have at least kept up the heat on those ahead of them in the race. Back-to-back wins, something of a rarity in this campaign, mean the Reds are up to seventh in the table, and only six points behind fourth-placed Newcastle.

    The Magpies, then, go into their game with Tottenham, fifth, under a little bit of pressure. They know that Liverpool have history when it comes to digging out a strong finish to a league season, and any slip up on Tyneside now could be costly, with only seven games remaining after this weekend.

    For Liverpool, four of those are at Anfield, a significant factor, perhaps, in the run-in? They're chasing again, and you know what happens when Klopp's side get the bit between their teeth...

  5. WINNER: Neco Williams
    Getty Images

    WINNER: Neco Williams

    Liverpool will be glad to see the back of a pair of Anfield old-boys after today's game, that's for sure.

    Taiwo Awoniyi never made a competitive appearance for the Reds, despite being on the club's books for six years, but he led the line superbly well for Forest here. So strong and so powerful, the Nigerian caused all kinds of issues for Ibrahima Konate and Virgil van Dijk, his hold-up play allowing Morgan Gibbs-White, in particular, to flourish in the second half.

    Neco Williams played 33 times for Liverpool before joining Forest last summer, and he too delivered a typically gutsy, high-energy performance down the right flank, one he capped by scoring his first Premier League goal.

    The Welshman needed a bit of luck, of course, but still it was reward for his willingness to get forward and try his luck. And to Williams' credit, he defended well too for the most part, competing doggedly against Cody Gakpo, Andy Robertson and, latterly, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez.

    He lingered a little longer at the final whistle to applaud his former supporters, who warmly applauded back. There were plenty of hugs and high fives as he made his way to the Forest bus, as old friends caught up with a lad who spent 15 years as a Liverpudlian.

    He'll always have friends at Anfield, even if he gave some of them a tough time today.

  6. LOSER: Forest's away form
    Getty Images

    LOSER: Forest's away form

    Steve Cooper may well take heart from elements of his side's performance here, but the fact remains that Forest are not a particularly good Premier League side, especially on their travels.

    In 16 away league matches this season, Cooper's team have picked up only one win and only six points in all. Not good enough at any level, is it, and a simple explanation as to why they find themselves in the relegation zone with six games remaining. How they expect to survive defending set-plays as they did here is anyone's guess.

    It is their form at the City Ground that is giving them any kind of hope, and how they need a positive result on Wednesday, when they welcome in-form Brighton.

    After that comes a trip to Brentford on Saturday, where their set-piece weakness will be tested to the full, you would expect. Cooper and his supporters, at least, will hope to see the kind of fight they witnessed here in the second half. Forest need all the help they can get.