Liverpool strolled to a remarkably straightforward 3-0 win at home to Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon.
Forest arrived with the aim of hitting their hosts on the break but conceded three goals from Liverpool counter-attacks. Each member of the Reds’ attacking triumvirate found the net, with Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez all but deciding the contest in the first half before Mohamed Salah stroked in a third.
Jurgen Klopp’s ‘Liverpool 2.0’ is taking shape, with an eighth consecutive victory at Anfield moving the Reds three points behind league-leading Tottenham Hotspur.
How the game unfolded
Forest boss Steve Cooper hailed Liverpool as “right up there as one of the toughest tests you can get” and duly set his side up with that wariness built in. The visitors were coiled in a passive 5-4-1 waiting to spring forward on the counter. Yet, a combination of Liverpool’s well-drilled high line and Anthony Elanga’s lesson on the offside law from Pippo Inzaghi limited Forest’s threat.
On the rare occasions that Cooper’s side stepped out of their own defensive third, Liverpool provided a brutal example of how to properly strike in transition.
At the end of a blistering first-half counter, Salah slid Nunez behind Forest’s befuddled backline, teeing the Uruguayan up for a strike which Matt Turner parried into Jota’s path. In celebration of his tap-in, Jota held up Luis Diaz’s shirt as a nod to the personal struggles currently endured by his teammate.
Salah was again at the sharp end of a surgical spear through the heart of Forest just four minutes later. Dominik Szoboszlai combined with the playmaking Egyptian before drilling the ball on to Nunez’s outstretched foot.
Forest know how fragile a two-goal lead can be – the Tricky Trees have lost after boasting that advantage twice already this season – but Liverpool showed few signs of buckling.
Turner was forced into a flurry of saves before the break but Liverpool deliberately dialled down the tempo in the second half, content to run down the clock by keeping the ball.
Szoboszlai is never one to rest on his laurels and spotted Salah at the breakdown from a long throw for Forest. Turner completely misjudged the bounce of Szoboszlai’s booming pass, briefly considering punching the ball away while stood well outside his penalty area. Forest’s keeper thought better of it, letting the ball roll through for Salah to score in his fifth consecutive league appearance at Anfield.
Elanga clattered Liverpool’s crossbar in the dying embers, while Cody Gakpo had a goal ruled out for offside, but the visitors could not find a consolation goal which their performance didn’t warrant.
GK: Alisson – 6/10 – Not overworked but always alert to rush off his line.
RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7/10 – Capable of dictating play from the base of midfield, even dropping between his centre-backs at times, and surging up the wing.
CB: Ibrahima Konate – 5/10 – All elbows and knees. Even when he won the ball, Konate invariably made contact with the Forest player.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – 9/10 – Skated around the pitch without breaking a sweat, dispossessing opponents with such ease he could have slipped his business card into their sock.
LB: Kostas Tsimikas – 5/10 – Solid if unspectacular.
CM: Dominik Szoboszlai – 8/10 – Playing with a swagger and strut, Szoboszlai dovetailed devilishly with Salah down Liverpool’s right flank.
CM: Alexis Mac Allister – 7/10 – Sprayed the ball around with ease from the base of midfield. Doesn’t look out of place when given so little defensive work to do.
CM: Ryan Gravenberch – 6/10 – Faded as the match wore on, perhaps weary from his starring role against Toulouse.
RW: Mohamed Salah – 8/10 – Leaning into a more withdrawn role, sliced through Forest’s rearguard with a glut of razor-sharp, often one-touch, passes.
ST: Darwin Nunez – 7/10 – Captain Chaos was more controlled – relatively – directing his special brand of bedlam towards Forest’s goal.
LW: Diogo Jota – 7/10 – A well-rounded display earned Jota his customary goal against Forest, taking his tally to six in five games.
SUB: Harvey Elliott (59′ for Gravenberch) – 5/10
SUB: Cody Gakpo (59′ for Jota) – 5/10
SUB: Wataru Endo (80′ for Nunez) – N/A
SUB: Joe Gomez (89′ for Alexander-Arnold) – N/A
Subs not used: Caoimhin Kelleher (GK), Adrian (GK), Luke Chambers, Joel Matip, James McConnell
Jurgen Klopp – 7/10 – Forest helped Liverpool out but Klopp’s ruthless attacking machine was perfectly poised to pounce when the opportunity arose.
GK: Matt Turner – 3/10 – A chaotic display slipped into calamity. Nothing that Turner attempted – or achieved – was carried out with certainty or security.
RWB: Serge Aurier – 5/10 – Limited as a forward threat by Liverpool’s unrelenting waves of attack.
CB: Willy Boly – 4/10 – Despite towering over Jota, Boly was still bullied by the forward.
CB: Moussa Niakhate – 5/10 – The beleaguered middle member of Forest’s back-three could only snuff out so many fires.
CB: Murillo – 4/10 – Unnervingly cocky bringing the ball out from the back, impishly nutmegging Salah at one point, but it was Murillo’s run into Mac Allister which led to Liverpool’s opener.
LWB: Ola Aina – 3/10 – Spellbound by Salah’s shuffling feet in the buildup for Liverpool’s second goal of the afternoon.
RM: Morgan Gibbs-White – 5/10 – Shunted out wide, Forest’s creator-in-chief was starved of the ball.
CM: Ibrahim Sangare – 3/10 – Took an almighty blow to the head when blocking Alexander-Arnold’s shot but played in a fog of indecision on either side of the whack.
CM: Orel Mangala – 4/10 – Hassled and harried without much consequence.
LM: Nicolas Dominguez – 4/10 – Drifted centrally in search of more touches but didn’t find many.
ST: Anthony Elanga – 3/10 – Constantly haring behind Liverpool’s high line but too eager with his bursts, time and again getting flagged offside.
SUB: Taiwo Awoniyi (69′ for Dominguez) – 5/10
SUB: Ryan Yates (69′ for Boly) – 5/10
SUB: Harry Toffolo (69′ for Aina) – 5/10
SUB: Andrey Santos (83′ for Mangala) – N/A
SUB: Neco Williams (83′ for Gibbs-White) – N/A
Subs not used: Odysseas Vlachodimos (GK), Nuno Tavares, Joe Worrall, Cheikhou Kouyate
Steve Cooper – 3/10 – A painfully passive approach wasn’t even compact. Once behind, Cooper altered Forest’s shape in-game before making a triple change to form a back-four. Nothing worked.