BOURNEMOUTH (Agencies): Mohamed Salah’s glaring penalty miss helped Bournemouth climb out of the relegation zone after an excellent win which damaged Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
The Reds were brought back down to earth after last week’s 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United as the Cherries, who started the weekend bottom, did their survival chances a power of good. Liverpool were punished for poor defending when the unmarked Philip Billing struck from eight yards for his sixth Premier League goal of the season after fine work by Dango Ouattara.
Virgil van Dijk had a header cleared off the line at 0-0 and substitute Diogo Jota was denied by Neto’s fine save before Liverpool won a penalty when the Portugal forward’s header was handled by Adam Smith. But Salah, who became Liverpool’s all-time top Premier League scorer with 129 goals last week, blazed the penalty wide much to the delight of Bournemouth’s fans.
While the win ensured Bournemouth finished the day 17th, Jurgen Klopp’s side missed the chance to go fourth for the first time this season after a lethargic display. “This game was a massive knock,” said the Reds boss. “You know how it is with knocks, you have to take them and see how big the scars are and go from there.”
Having scored seven times in their last match, the Reds failed to register a goal against the worst defence in the Premier League. Liverpool have made strides in recent weeks but this was a step backwards for a team who face a mountainous task to stay in the Champions League when they go to European champions Real Madrid on Wednesday, looking to claw back a 5-2 deficit.
Their patchy away form – just three wins in 13 league games on the road – continues to hold them back. “Concerned? Yes, I see it,” added Klopp on his side’s away performances.
“In the home games we are in the top four but in the away games we are not even in Europe, there is always a reason and our away results is for sure [the reason].” With next week’s home game with Fulham postponed due to the London club’s involvement in the FA Cup followed by the first international break of 2023, this was Liverpool’s last game on the Premier League stage for three weeks. They face back-to-back away games at Manchester City (1 April) and Chelsea (4 April) when they return, followed by a home match with leaders Arsenal (9 April).
Klopp will hope his side have washed this defeat out of their system by then.
Bournemouth show they are up for fight
The last time these two teams met, Liverpool won 9-0 at Anfield and Scott Parker was sacked. This was only Bournemouth’s second win – and first at home – since Gary O’Neil was made permanent manager in November after a spell as interim boss.
The Cherries deserve enormous credit for bouncing back after last weekend’s emotionally-draining game at Arsenal when they led 2-0 before conceding a winner in the 97th minute.
“To concede the late goal at Arsenal and show what they are made of, I was asked if they would have any hangovers from what happened at Arsenal – that [performance] was your answer,” said O’Neil. “The stuff that has gone against us recently, we were due for something to go our way, definitely.” Bournemouth still have work to do if they are to avoid a quick-fire return to the Championship following last season’s promotion, but this performance will give the team a huge confidence lift.
The Cherries were strong at the back and caused problems going forward with Ouattara a real threat.
There was another huge positive for the home fans in the shape of David Brooks.
The Wales winger was back on the bench for the first time since being diagnosed with cancer in 2022.