Goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were enough to make Rafael Benitez's return to Anfield a trip to forget.

By 90Min
March 03, 2018

Goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane were enough to make Rafael Benitez's return to Anfield a trip to forget, as the Reds displayed their dominance throughout the match in order to cruise to a comfortable 2-0 victory.

Rafael Benitez's return to Anfield was always going to be an exciting encounter, with the Spaniard having written himself into Liverpool folklore in his six year stint at the club between 2004 and 2010.

The hosts were overwhelming favorites going into the fixture, with the Reds having picked up 23 points from their last 10 games - a favorable comparison to the struggling Magpies who had accrued 14 in the same amount of matches.

The match got off to a fairly routine start for the home side, with Jurgen Klopp's men looking comfortable maintaining possession and looking to wear down the Newcastle defense.

Rafa Benitez, being undefeated against his former club, seemed wise to the Reds' attacking prowess, setting his defence up in an organised manner in order to attempt to stifle the infamous attacking triumvirate of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.

The first real opportunity of the game came just after the 10 minute mark with Andy Robertson finding himself in space on the left flank and firing a cross in towards Salah. The Egyptian met the cross with a powerful volley however, the shot was closed down and blocked by the visitors' defense.

Liverpool came close to breaking the deadlock just before the half hour mark when Dejan Lovren met a sumptuously placed corner with his head, although it was cleared off the line my Mikel Merino, with the Spaniard fortunately maintaining the deadlock.

After a long period of dominance and patience it was Liverpool who broke the deadlock, with a charging run forward from deep and a smart pass from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain being rewarded as Salah once again added to his goal tally for the season.

The 'Egyptian King' found himself one-on-one with Martin Dubravka, and with the Reds hotshot bearing down on goal there was only one outcome as he coolly finished between the keepers' legs to make it 1-0 to the hosts.

To their credit however, Newcastle didn't let the opening goal affect their game plan and they continued to make life difficult for Liverpool, testing the Reds late in the first half, culminating in a Mohamed Diame shot testing Loris Karius, forcing the German keeper to make an acrobatic save, pushing the ball out for a corner just before the end of the first period.

Upon the resumption of the game the hosts continued their run of dominant play, with Newcastle being put through their paces by a confident Liverpool side.

There were some penalty shout lodged against Benitez's men on the 50 minute mark after a Salah shot was blocked by the Jamaal Lascelles. However, the shouts were quickly dismissed by the ref who deemed that any perceived handling of the ball was neither deliberate nor avoidable.

Despite initial frustrations, it wasn't long before Klopp's men doubled their advantage, as a brilliant passage of passing play resulted in Mane breaking clear of the opposition's defense and firing a powerful shot into the right hand side of the net at the Kop end. 

Following the Liverpool goal, Newcastle began to impose themselves upon the game a bit more, seeing them put together a prolonged stint of possession. Although, despite their control over the ball, they were unable to breach the stalwart opposition defense.

Going into the closing stage of the game, Liverpool looked to slow down the tempo of the game and see out the win, with the creator of the opening goal, Oxlade-Chamberlian, giving way for vice-captain James Milner.

Despite making seemingly defensive substitutions, Liverpool continued to impose their dominance on the visitors' defense late into the match, with a number of ventures towards the opposition goal being thwarted by the stubborn Newcastle defense.

Mohamed Salah was denied a late penalty after he was seemingly challenged from behind when one-on-one with Dubravka however, the referee wasn't interested in awarding the Reds a chance to extend their lead late on and the game ended with Liverpool claiming a comfortable 2-0 win.

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