Jota scores on home debut as champions beat Arsenal at Anfield

Diogo Jota marked his home debut with a goal as Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield on Monday night.

A 25th-minute opener against the run of play from Alexandre Lacazette left the champions with work to do if they were to make it three wins from three Premier League outings this season.

They rose to the challenge with aplomb, though, and had taken the lead within nine minutes of Arsenal’s goal thanks to strikes from Sadio Mane and Andy Robertson.

Alisson Becker made a pair of excellent saves in quick succession to deny Lacazette after the interval, but the Reds’ authoritative performance thoroughly deserved the three points that were wrapped up by substitute Jota’s fine volleyed finish late on. 

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Joe Gomez returned at centre-back, enabling Fabinho to be redeployed at the base of the hosts’ midfield. Thiago Alcantara missed out due to a minor fitness issue.

First half

There was an urgency about Liverpool’s early work and the pressure they exerted yielded a first clear sight of Arsenal’s goal with a quarter of an hour gone.

Mane darted into space inside the area and met Trent Alexander-Arnold’s low cross cleanly on the half-volley, but his attempt was straight at a grateful Bernd Leno.

Leno could only stand and watch as Alexander-Arnold’s sweetly-struck, first-time drive from just outside the box deflected up off a defender and onto his crossbar, before Georginio Wijnaldum scuffed his shot after the Reds had squeezed possession from the visitors high up the pitch.

It felt like a matter of time until the champions made the breakthrough, but a Gunners counter led to them hitting the front through Lacazette, who hooked a finish over Alisson after Robertson had mis-controlled Ainsley Maitland-Niles’ delivery from the left.

Jürgen Klopp’s team were unperturbed by that setback, however, and drew level 147 seconds later.

Naby Keita found Mohamed Salah, with the No.11 duly surging beyond Kieran Tierney and firing at goal. Leno could only parry Salah’s attempt and Mane was on hand to tap home the loose ball from close range.

Equalising did not quench the Reds’ thirst and their supremacy finally became accurately reflected on the scoreboard in the 34th minute. 

Salah and Roberto Firmino linked up down the right and were ably backed up by Alexander-Arnold. The right-back dug out a cross that was a touch too high for Mane but ideal for Robertson, who had ghosted in unmarked at the back post and had time to chest the ball down before lifting it neatly over Leno.

Gomez then athletically and impressively cleared Willian’s threatening cross away in the closing stages of a first period dominated by Liverpool.

Second half

Mane drilled a left-footed effort over the bar soon after the restart as Klopp’s side reasserted themselves immediately, although Liverpool would require two moments of class from Alisson to preserve their lead.

Twice Lacazette sprang in behind the champions’ backline and bore down on goal – and twice the Reds’ No.1 won the duel as he stood tall on both occasions to repel the forward’s finishes. 

The irrepressible Mane fashioned another opportunity by flitting inside and playing a one-two with Firmino, but the No.10 angled his shot just wide after twisting his body to strike on his left. 

Klopp sought fresh legs with 10 minutes remaining and summoned Jota and James Milner from the bench, the duo replacing Mane and Keita.

Jota needed little time to get up to speed with the high-tempo rhythm and could have scored earlier, when Salah sped inside from the right and threaded a wonderful pass into the No.20’s feet, only for his lofted shot to hit the side-netting. 

But the Portugal international would have his goal, as he controlled David Luiz’s headed clearance on his thigh before sending a low volley in off the post to apply the gloss to a powerful Liverpool display.