Alexander Isak's already shown one thing at Newcastle United after Jurgen Klopp's assessment
Newcastle United, according to Jurgen Klopp, are the Premier League’s "most improved team” – and Alexander Isak can make them even better.
That was clear after Isak, signed last week for a club-record £60million fee, scored a stunning goal on his debut at Anfield tonight.
Eddie Howe's side, without injured trio Bruno Guimaraes, Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson, deservedly led at the break through Isak’s 38th-minute strike, but the second half was a different story, and United spent much of the last 30 minutes camped inside their own half after Firmino equalised.
And Liverpool – who had beaten Bournemouth 9-0 last weekend – won 2-1 thanks to a 98th-minute strike from Fabio Carvalho. Howe and his staff were furious at the additional time added on by referee Andre Marriner.
But the performance of the team – and especially Isak on his first appearance – will hearten Howe.
Howe had made four changes to the team which came from behind to draw 1-1 with Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday.
The most significant was the decision to hand Isak – who had been a frustrated spectator at Molineux after his work permit failed to come through in time – his full debut. Jamaal Lascelles, Matt Targett and Ryan Fraser also came into Howe’s team at Anfield.
Newcastle pressed Liverpool high in the opening stages, and caused problems on the counter-attack through the pace of Fraser down the left.
Isak, with his pace and movement, caused problems for the home defence, and Fraser shot over after a clever turn on the edge of the box in the 18th minute.
Liverpool had been 3-0 up against Bournemouth by the half-hour mark, and as news of a first-half Erling Haaland hat-trick for Manchester City filtered through at Anfield, the home fans were getting frustrated at a lack of a breakthrough for their team.
Klopp’s side probed away, but time and again they were frustrated by United. On the one occasion they got in behind their visitors, Luis Diaz – who had rounded Nick Pope – but put the ball over the net.
Isak, however, didn’t spurn the next opportunity to come his way. After a turnover, Newcastle broke down the right through Miguel Almiron and Kieran Trippier.
Trippier aimed a short pass at Isak just outside the area, but it was cleared to Sean Longstaff. Longstaff played Isak in with a clever pass into the box, and the Sweden international beat Alisson with a powerful shot.
The 22-year-old celebrated in front of United’s travelling fans in the Anfield Road End as Klopp turned and signalled his frustration to his bench.
Klopp, however, was celebrating at the hour-mark after Roberto Firmino equalised with a simple finish after a move down the right involving Mo Salah.
Howe responded by replacing Isak and Fraser with Chris Wood and Jacob Murphy, and United competed ferociously for the ball as Liverpool pushed for a winner.
Elliot Anderson was sent on for the last six minutes, and he had a chance before Carvalho scored at the other end of the pitch.
NEWCASTLE UNITED: Pope, Trippier, Lascelles, Burn, Targett, S Longstaff, Willock, Joelinton, Almiron (Anderson, 84), Fraser (Murphy, 63), Isak (Wood, 63). Subs not used: Darlow, Botman, Schar, Ritchie, Lewis, Manquillo.