Darwin Nunez’s penalty against RB Leipzig brought about a rare moment of generosity from Mo Salah (and handed the Uruguayan plenty of confidence)… but after crucial spot-kick against Man City, there’s no doubt the Egyptian remains Liverpool’s star
- Liverpool beat Manchester City 3-1 in the Community Shield at the King Power
- Mohamed Salah scored a decisive spot-kick to take the lead in the 83rd minute
- His goal was followed by a diving header from Darwin Nunez to make it 3-1
- Nunez has impressed so far – but Salah’s display proved he is still Liverpool’s star
Mohamed Salah’s ability to surprise Jurgen Klopp took an unexpected twist earlier this month when he showed a rare level of generosity.
In a friendly against RB Leipzig, Liverpool won a penalty and rather than march over and plant the ball on the spot, as is customary for the Egyptian, he handed the responsibility for taking the kick to Darwin Nunez to give him the chance for an early confidence boost.
Nunez, obligingly, took possession and squeezed his shot. It was the first of four goals in a 5-0 win and the importance of getting off the mark was not lost on Salah, who five years earlier had got his Liverpool career up and running with a scruffy finish in a 1-1 draw at Wigan.
Mohamed Salah flaunted his goal-scoring talents once again with a penalty against Man City
The Reds winger put in an excellent display as Liverpool won 3-1 to lift the Community Shield
Benevolence, however, only goes so far and in the final seven minutes of the season’s curtain raiser there was no chance of Salah repeating the gesture.
Plenty question whether the Community Shield classes as a ‘proper’ trophy but there was nothing friendly about this clash between bitter rivals.
It’s why Salah stood over the penalty spot in the 84th minute and adopted the same stance and levels of focus as he did when in a similar position in the second minute of the 2019 Champions League final. For all the barbs that came his way from Manchester City’s players, Salah wouldn’t be budged.
Darwin Nunez got off to the perfect start at Liverpool with an important goal off the bench
He paced back purposefully, did that little skip to the side and charged forward, sweeping his penalty into the far corner despite the best efforts of Ederson, who had plunged down to his right hand side, to tip the shot around the corner.
How Salah enjoyed it, racing towards Liverpool’s delighted supporters through plumes of red smoke. He knew, almost certainly, that strike was going to be good enough to settle the fixture and give the club their first victory in this game since 2006.
Nunez, introduced as a substitute, would go on to seal the victory, securing himself instant affection from the traveling Liverpool fans, with a stopping header and guaranteeing he would become central to the headlines.
The Egyptian delivered a scintillating performance for Liverpool, as shown by sofascore.com
The performance of Salah, though, was just as significant on this afternoon, not least as it was the first ‘competitive’ game of the campaign and his first major appearance on these shores since he signed a contract extension on July 1.
Salah, who won the PFA and FWA Player of the Year awards last season, went fractionally off the boil in the closing weeks of the campaign and finished it in tears in Paris as Thibault Courtois pulled off heroics to shut down his intention to take revenge on Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
What was evident in Leicester, however, was the fact that Salah looks primed to begin this season like a bullet from a gun; twice in the opening four minutes, he had given Pep Guardiola palpitations first when ushering Jordan Henderson forward to cross for Luis Diaz, then firing a shot of his own into the side-netting after dashing past Joao Cancelo.
The Uruguayan star joined Liverpool from Benfica this summer for a club record fee of £85m
Fittingly, he was involved in the goal that opened the scoring, nudging a pass back to Trent Alexander-Arnold after he had been found by the outstanding Thiago Alcantara – Guardiola, undoubtedly, will have been furious that Salah was allowed so much time and space .
City were not their usual selves in terms of how they press and try to win back possession but, even at peak form, they would have had their work cut out containing Salah in this form and this performance merely underlined one thing.
For all the reshaping that has been done to Liverpool’s attack, with Sadio Mane leaving and Nunez arriving, the importance of making sure Salah is on board until 2025 cannot be understated. Salah makes a brilliant team world class and produces when it matters.
This penalty and assist will not be recorded in the official record books but try telling anyone that Salah’s efforts on this absorbing afternoon were for nothing. He is ready to go again and City know he will be pushing them all the way once more.