Roberto Firmino wasn’t even supposed to play much for Liverpool on Saturday.
Once he entered the game, it was essentially over for Newcastle United.
Firmino was everywhere in Liverpool’s 3-1 win, earning a wonderful assist and controlling the proceedings at Anfield.
“He is a very important player for all of us,” said Virgil Van Dijk of the 37th minute sub. “I know how difficult it is for a defender when the striker drops his position and he is making life difficult for any defender in the world, I think. He is so good and I am very happy he is on my team.”
[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle ]
Manager Jurgen Klopp agreed, and explained that Firmino’s status on the bench wasn’t even about the upcoming UEFA Champions League match at Napoli.
“You don’t want to leave Bobby out, but from time to time you have to be sensible especially after long trips but of course he came on and helped,” Klopp said.
Klopp said Liverpool needed 20-25 minutes to get into the game, saying the Reds can’t set the tempo if Newcastle wants to sit back.
That said, even with an early concession to Jetro Willems, Klopp said life was pretty cozy from Moment No. 1.
“In the box, around the box, we had crosses, but not the tempo we wanted. That was a big threat always, the two quick boys in behind and in this case Willems. And then we started. Once we changed the rhythm, it was immediately much better and we deserved the three points.”
Liverpool visits Napoli on Tuesday before heading to Chelsea on Sept. 22.