Diogo Jota makes up for lost time with brace as Liverpool win Forest thriller

Liverpool forward Diogo Jota is making up for lost time after his double against Nottingham Forest made it four goals in six days after a year-long barren spell.

However, the 3-2 win was littered with defensive lapses and, after the visitors quickly equalised twice through former Reds defender Neco Williams and Morgan Gibbs-White, it needed the reliable left boot of Mohamed Salah to secure victory.

Even then Liverpool’s progress to within six points of fourth-placed Newcastle was almost when Brennan Johnson lobbed Alisson Becker but was denied by the crossbar.

Jota justified Jurgen Klopp’s decision to name an unchanged side for the third successive game running for the first time since January 2020 as his mini-revival continued.

The Portugal international, who due to injury made just 10 appearances in the first six months of the season, ended his drought with two in Monday’s 6-1 demolition of Leeds and repeated the feat to increase the pressure on fellow relegation strugglers Forest, who have now lost their last six away matches and dropped to second-bottom as a result.

In line with Liverpool’s recent return to form, Trent Alexander-Arnold, in his new hybrid right-back-cum-midfield role, was at the heart of their best work but unlike at Elland Road where he picked apart the naive hosts it was his enduring set-piece quality which created the most danger.

Yet the first half, in which they enjoyed 86 per cent possession but had only a header from Virgil van Dijk tipped over by goalkeeper Keylor Navas and Jota nodding wastefully wide to show for their efforts, gave no indication of the chaos which was to follow after the interval.

Forest, who had to replace the injured Scott McKenna with Joe Worrall on the half-hour mark, had shown little ambition with a 5-4-1 set-up designed to deny their hosts the space through the middle they had exploited so ruthlessly at Elland Road.

But when the breakthrough came two minutes into the second half it was inevitably from a set-piece.

Liverpool’s Diogo Jota
Liverpool’s Diogo Jota scored twice (Peter Byrne/PA)

The lead lasted just four minutes as Forest counter-attacked and Williams blasted home via a deflection off Robertson.

However, Liverpool’s response was instantaneous as Jota exploited a static Forest defence.

Robertson swung over a free-kick and the Portugal international ran from deep to control on his chest unmarked and slot home with the visitors and most of Anfield expecting an offside flag which never came.

Jota was denied a hat-trick when his header was tipped over by Navas but a failure to establish control allowed Gibbs-White to brilliantly volley in the 68th minute and the visiting support could hardly believe it having previously witnessed just five goals in 15 away league matches this season.

Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White celebrates at Anfield
Nottingham Forest’s Morgan Gibbs-White celebrates at Anfield (Peter Byrne/PA)

Still Liverpool failed to close the back door and their former striker Taiwo Awonyi, who scored the winner against at the City Ground in October, saw an overhead kick graze the crossbar before Johnson went even closer.

Seasons can be defined by such small margins and, while it maintain Liverpool’s momentum in their quest for Champions League football, it extended Forest’s dismal run to three points from the last 30 available.

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