Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah believes his side can win the Premier League title after his inspirational display handed the Reds 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 ahead at the top.
It was his final game before joining his national team 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.”
When 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 spoke after the game:
“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.”