Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah were on target as Liverpool edged Premier League strugglers Nottingham Forest 3-2 in a riveting clash at Anfield on Saturday to climb to seventh in the table.
All the goals came in an action-packed second half, with Jota heading in the opener from a corner in the 47th minute, before Forest drew level when former Liverpool fullback Neco Williams ran on to Morgan Gibbs-White’s pass to send a deflected shot past Alisson.
Jota restored Liverpool’s lead with a sharp finish on the turn in the 55th minute but Liverpool were pegged back again when Virgil Van Dijk’s clearing header fell to an unmarked Gibbs-White.
Both Forest goals came from long throw-ins and Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was pleased with the result but frustrated by his side’s shaky defensive performance against a team who have the second-worst attacking record in the league.
“It was a difficult game against a low block,” Klopp said. “All this chaos around the throw-ins you have to try to avoid.
“Too many situations, we couldn’t clear properly but apart from that I am really pleased.”
Liverpool sealed the win three minutes after Forest’s second when Trent Alexander-Arnold picked out Salah with a low free kick and the Egyptian striker held off Remo Freuler before side-footing past Keylor Navas.
Forest twice came agonisingly close to snatching a draw when Taiwo Awoniyi sent an acrobatic effort over the bar and substitute Brennan Johnson hit the crossbar with a delicate chip, but Liverpool clung on to take all three points.
Liverpool went into the match in high spirits after crushing Leeds United 6-1 earlier in the week but struggled to break down a packed Forest defence in the opening period.
“I think it was really important to win and follow up the last win,” said Jota, who now has four goals in two games after failing to score in his previous 32 appearances for the club.
“We need to improve defensively but offensively we were almost perfect.”
Steve Cooper set up Forest with a flat back five, looking to contain Liverpool, and the strategy worked in the first half, though the visitors rode their luck at times.
Alexander-Arnold carved out Liverpool’s first clear chance in the 26th minute when he found Van Dijk with a free kick that the Dutchman headed goalwards only to be denied by a sharp save from Navas.
The Liverpool fullback has come in for criticism for his defensive performances this season and Klopp’s solution has been to move him into midfield when Liverpool are on the ball, a role Alexander-Arnold seems to be relishing.
He found Cody Gakpo from a corner on the half-hour mark but the forward’s first-time effort was cleared off the line by Williams and he also picked out Jota with a free kick that the striker headed into the side netting as the scores stayed level at halftime.
It was Alexander-Arnold’s corner that led to Liverpool’s opener soon after the restart, setting them on their way to their fourth unbeaten game in a row as Klopp’s men moved on to 50 points, one behind sixth-placed Aston Villa.
Defeat saw Forest drop to second-bottom in the table.