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Monday, March 4, 2024

Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4: How Jota and Nunez laid on a finishing masterclass

Liverpool march on.

Jurgen Klopp’s side moved five points clear at the top of the Premier League table after an emphatic win at Bournemouth extended their unbeaten run in the competition to 14 games.

They have played a match more than second-placed Manchester City but this was another test impressively overcome by Liverpool as they prepare to try and book a trip to Wembley on Wednesday in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.

We dissect the big talking points at the Vitality Stadium.


Deadly Jota and Nunez make the difference

Jurgen Klopp describes Diogo Jota as a “smart” footballer, “one of those players who really understand the game on a different level”.

His decision-making and the speed of his reactions proved the difference as he set up the first goal and scored the next two in what was ultimately a convincing win.

The lay-off for the opening goal, four minutes into the second half, was perfect both in conception and execution, as was the finish from Darwin Nunez.

Key: 5: Konate, 17: Jones; 20: Jota: 9: Nunez

Jota’s first goal was a snapshot that took Neto by surprise at the near post, his second an illustration of his instincts and his reaction speed as, having initially miscued the ball, he lashed a shot past the Bournemouth goalkeeper while others were wondering where the ball had gone.

Jota’s defining qualities are very different to those of Nunez, but the latter also had a highly productive afternoon, scoring the first goal — his 100th in his senior career — and then putting the icing on the cake with a smart finish from a Joe Gomez cross in the closing stages.

Having scored just once in the previous 16 matches, Nunez left the pitch with two goals and a huge grin, his confidence on the rise again.


Darwin Nunez now has 101 career goals (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Another slow start shaken off

A curious aspect of Liverpool’s title challenge is how often they have started games slowly, only to come good in the second half.

This was their 21st Premier League game of the season. Only seven times have they led at the interval. Sometimes inspiration has come from the substitutes’ bench. On this occasion, it came from a steady improvement after a sluggish start.

Most half-time leads in PL this season

Clubs HT leads

Manchester City

11

Aston Villa

9

Tottenham Hotspur

9

West Ham United

9

Brighton and Hove Albion

8

Arsenal

7

Liverpool

7

Newcastle United

7

Jurgen Klopp said he could not find the words to describe just how much he had welcomed the break in Liverpool’s schedule — such were the demands of an intense programme over the Christmas period.

But his team were slow out of the blocks at the Vitality Stadium, inviting some heavy Bournemouth pressure in the early stages, including two corners in the first 60 seconds. Only gradually, with Alexis Mac Allister bringing some composure in midfield, did they find a foothold in the game.

It was an awkward assignment against a Bournemouth team who have been in excellent form of late. Klopp will be delighted by the way his team dug in and took control, even if the opening 20 minutes were perhaps the sloppiest of their season so far.

The Bournemouth vs Liverpool match dashboard


Bradley’s day to remember

There are more daunting places for a Premier League debut than the Vitality Stadium, but this, against an in-form team on a windswept south coast, was a real test for Conor Bradley, who spent last season on loan at Bolton Wanderers in League One.

Luis Sinisterra is a tricky opponent, and for the opening 20 minutes or so he enjoyed himself against Liverpool’s young full-back. But Bradley grew in confidence and stature the longer the game went on.

It looked as if Bournemouth were targeting both Liverpool full-backs while the game was still in the balance: Bradley making his Premier League debut at right-back and Joe Gomez out of position on the left, continuing to deputise for the injured Andy Robertson and Kostas Tsimikas. Forty-nine per cent of Bournemouth’s attacking touches in the first hour came down the right-hand third of the pitch and 33 per cent down the left.

It is very different to the sight of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Robertson playing at full pelt from full-back, but Bradley and Gomez both got settled into the game and Bournemouth’s threat was quelled.

Bradley left the pitch in the closing stages to receive a bear hug from Klopp, making way for another Premier League debutant: 21-year-old left-back Owen Beck, who was recently recalled from a spell loan to Dundee.

By that stage, with Liverpool 3-0 up, it certainly looked like a comfortable situation in which to make your first appearance on the Premier League stage.


What did Jurgen Klopp say?

The Liverpool manager was thrilled by another fine second-half performance from his players.

“I’m more happy after the first half because it was a tough one,” he said. “We didn’t play good football. The message at half-time was that it’s still 0-0 so let’s try to be great and the boys were.

“People might write a story about the half-time changes working again, you can write as well about why you have the first line-up from the beginning. It was obvious we needed to change something. We did and it worked much better.

“In the moment we still have solutions and now the boys should come back step by step. We play in three days, then three days, then three days later. So we better be good otherwise we have a problem.”


What next for Liverpool?

Wednesday, January 24: Fulham (A), Carabao Cup, 8pm GMT, 3pm ET

Avoid defeat and Liverpool will reach their 14th League Cup final, extending their record (Manchester United have reached the second-most finals, with 10).


Recommended reading

(Top photo: David Horton – CameraSport via Getty Images))



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