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Aleksandr Mitrovic proves he is READY for the Premier League against Liverpool

Aleksandr Mitrovic proves he’s READY for the Premier League with a stunning two-goal performance against Liverpool after embarrassing both Virgil van Dijk and Trent Alexander-Arnold

  • Liverpool came from behind to save a 2-2 draw with Fulham at Craven Cottage
  • Aleksandr Mitrovic produced a stunning performance by scoring twice
  • Darwin Nunez scored on his Premier League debut for Jurgen Klopp’s side
  • Mo Salah scored late to level Liverpool and secure a league point for his side

With just 47 seconds on the clock, you wondered if old habits would be hard to get rid of. Trent Alexander-Arnold had carelessly conceded possession and allowed Aleksander Mitrovic to sneak forward.

Mitrovic was Fulham’s “killer” – a description given to him by captain Tom Cairney – in the championship, scoring 43 goals in their title-winning campaign.

It would be a disservice to his teammates to call him a one-man band, but without him their prospects of playing in the Premier League would have dwindled terribly.

Aleksandar Mitrović came out on top in his fight with Virgil van Dijk .  from Liverpool

Aleksandar Mitrović came out on top in his fight with Virgil van Dijk . from Liverpool

Fulham's Aleksandar Mitrović towers over Trent Alexander-Arnold and scores in the 39th minute

Fulham’s Serb towers over Trent Alexander-Arnold to open the scoring against Liverpool

However, the Premier League was a challenge for the Serb. Last time he was here with Fulham, he scored three goals in 27 appearances.

It would have been better in 2018-19, with a total of 11 in 37 games, but not enough to suggest he would be a burden to top defenders.

So in that first minute, when he charged at Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker, you wondered what would happen – a death shot or ammunition for those who want to call him ‘puzzle’, in the sense that he falls apart in a box ? A scraped toe-poke wide suggested the latter.

Maybe it was the nerves. In the opening half hour he had given no indication to Virgil van Dijk or Joel Matip that they would be taken out of their comfort zone; an opportunity was turned down in the 24th minute, a terrible pass in the 28th minute took the sting out of a counterattack.

Darwin Nunez scores to get one back for Liverpool with a neat finish in the 64th minute

Darwin Nunez scores to get one back for Liverpool with a neat finish in the 64th minute

Nunez started on the bench but came into play at halftime to score a goal for the visitors

Nunez started on the bench but came halftime to score on his Premier League debut

Most glaring of all, he failed to make contact with a cross from the great Neeskens Kebano, whose ball had been whistled into the six-yard area and demanded a finish.

Mitrovic grimaced when the opportunity came and went. His manager Marco Silva looked desperately at the sky.

Another déjà vu? Not a little. It was like that last moment flipped a switch on the next attack, it felt like everyone in Craven Cottage was “Mitro’s On Fire!” sang. after hitting the back post in another great ball from Fulham’s right, this one delivered by Joao Palhina.

On an afternoon when few had given Fulham much of a chance, there was an exciting change of direction here.

From here you could tell he was visibly confident and the impact it had on his team was huge – they didn’t play feeling inferior to Liverpool and went from head to toe.

No one embodied this approach more than Mitrovic, who stepped up a gear in the second period.

A sign of how much he was enjoying things came in the 56th minute when he bounced on Jordan Henderson and then turned Van Dijk around before putting his team back at bay.

Mo Salah scored 10 minutes before time to save Liverpool a point in their league opener

Mo Salah scored 10 minutes before time to save Liverpool a point in their league opener

It seems awkward to question a player whose goal record at international is 46 in 74 games, but skeptics wanted to see evidence that there would be no famine for the 27-year-old, who once wanted Fulham boss Silva to sign for Everton.

Watching him fight Van Dijk and become a focal point for Kebano to take off will convince everyone at his club that he can be their talisman and prove that those who expect to be relegated in May will make it to have the wrong end.

Every point and goal will be vital and Mitrovic’s penalty – awarded after VAR found Van Dijk tripped him in the 72nd minute – was executed expertly.

For a moment it looked like he would be the match winner, but Mohamed Salah had other ideas.

So a shame for Mitrovic, but this indicates that even better days will come.

This must be the Launchpad for a season where it’s talked about as prolific, not riotous.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was forced to make changes at half time with his team behind it

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was forced to make changes at half time with his team behind it

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