Mohamed Salah dared to step up to the penalty spot for a second time in Liverpool’s 4-2 win over Newcastle on Monday, after already having a spot-kick saved by Martin Dubravka in the first half. The visitors at Anfield had set up a nervy finish when Sven Botman’s header brought them within one goal of their dominant opponents, but Salah sent Dubravka the wrong way from 12 yards on his second visit to seal a vital three points – perhaps thanks to Anthony Gordon.
Gordon had set up Alexander Isak to score Newcastle’s first goal, shortly after Salah had broken the deadlock in the second half to atone for his earlier penalty miss. The England hopeful was moved to the left flank and immediately made an impact, playing the ball through for Isak to finish past Alisson.
But in the closing stages of the game, Gordon may have also played his role in another goal when Salah stepped up after Liverpool were awarded a controversial penalty. Diogo Jota was adjudged to have been tripped by Dubravka and after a lengthy VAR check, the on-field decision stood.
Salah could have been forgiven for handing over the penalty to one of his team-mates, having already missed once. But this time he sent Dubravka the wrong way from the spot, placing an effort to the Egyptian’s left – the opposite side to where his first attempt was saved.
Whether Dubravka was always going to go to his left is unknown, but he may have been convinced by Gordon pointing in that direction behind Salah. The former Everton winger felt that he noticed an indication of where Salah was going to shoot based on his run-up, and was left red-faced when Dubravka took on that advice but went the wrong way.
Salah was visibly delighted during his celebrations as he was able to sign off with two goals before jetting off to the Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast with Egypt. He had missed four of his previous 10 penalties before netting Liverpool’s fourth goal, thanks to Gordon but also perhaps a change of boots.
Sky Sports commentator Peter Drury noted that Salah had a different pair of boots on for the second half. They appeared to his scoring boots as he came alive in the second period after an inspired half-time team-talk and a potential helping hand from Gordon.
“The ones I missed a penalty with, I just trained with them yesterday,” Salah said when asked about his footwear. “It’s not superstition but I wanted to change them. I just changed them and it made my mind calm.
“The players spoke in the dressing room. We have to stay calm. I missed the pen. I didn’t want to leave with the national team with that performance.”