Football Features

Aleksandar Mitrovic shows Haaland how to pass the ‘Welcome to the Premier League’ test as Fulham earn Liverpool draw

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 14:47, 6 August 2022

In a dynamic afternoon of football, Fulham held Liverpool to a pulsating 2-2 draw at Craven Cottage.

The star of the show was undoubedtly Aleksandar Mitrovic, the Fulham striker who scored both goals and dominated Virgil van Dijk to mark his return to the Premier League in style.

Things felt different from the start of the game as Mitrovic fizzed a shot just wide in the opening minutes and was pressing and pressing Liverpool players like a prime Luis Suárez from the very first minute. He was a sheer nuisance, but looked dangerous too.

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The Serbian scored 43 goals last season and has 81 goals in 107 Championship games for Fulham, with just 15 in 70 when in the Premier League. He has so often looked unable to perform in the top division – but not anymore.

Mitrovic rose powerfully at the back-post to posterize Trent Alexander-Arnold as he thumped Fulham into the lead with a delightful header. And for his second he nervelessly dispatched a penalty that he won by skinning Virgil van Dijk.

And it was Virgil van Dijk who was Mitrovic’s primary victim, not just for the penalty but for getting Cruyff-Turned by the Serbian striker earlier in the game during yet another Fulham attack that flowed through Mitrovic.

Today’s game marked the first time Van Dijk had been dribbled past and conceded a penalty in a single Premier League game. Mitrovic was the man responsible for both moments of dominance, which speaks volumes to the level of his quality.

Last week Virgil van Dijk delivered a “welcome to the Premier League” message as he dominated Man City’s new signing Erling Haaland, at least that was according to former City man Sergio Aguero.

Well, this week it seems as though Mitrovic has turned the message around and delivered it to Van Dijk himself.

“A massive influence on this game from an attacking point-of-view,” said Jermaine Jenas as he awarded Mitrovic the man of the match. And honestly, who could argue with the decision to award the Serb with that honour?

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Well, maybe Mohamed Salah? The Egyptian is a fiend for the opening day and walked away with a goal and assist. His assist set-up Liverpool’s first equaliser and his snapshot buried their second and made it 8 goals on the opening day for Salah, meaning no one else has more than him. It’s also the sixth straight opening day in which Salah has scored. which is also a record.

There’s also Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan forward who came off the bench to transform the tie in Liverpool’s favour. From Darwin’s introduction on 51 minutes until the end of the game, the Reds were the dominant force and Fulham’s defenders had absolutely no idea nor ability to handle Darwin’s overpowering presence. He set-up Salah’s goal with a nice run and scored the Reds’ first with a delicious backheel flick. This boy is serious business and the Premier League has been put on notice.

But even with honours even, the day belonged to Aleksandar Mitrovic and Fulham.