Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah credits shoe swap for turnaround

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Mohamed Salah moved level with Erling Haaland in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot by scoring twice in Liverpool’s 4-2 win against Newcastle United after changing his boots following a first-half penalty miss.

Salah’s two goals, including a second-half penalty, took the Egypt international to 14 league goals for the season in his final game for Liverpool, who moved three points clear at the top of the table, before flying out to Ivory Coast for the Africa Cup of Nations.

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But after seeing Newcastle keeper Martin Dúbravka save his first-half penalty, Salah said that he ditched his boots at half-time to avoid the miss “playing with my head” for the remainder of the game.

“Yes I did,” Salah told Sky Sports when asked if he had changed his boots. “The other ones I missed the penalty with. It’s not superstitious because I play with many boots, but when I feel it’s going to play with my head, OK, out, change the boots!

“But I don’t like to go in the second half of this game thinking ‘I didn’t score with this.’ So I just made my mind calm and focused on the game. We have to stay calm. I missed the pen. At half-time I was like, ‘Do you want to leave for the national team with that performance?’ Not really!

“So I had to really focus, step up and make the difference and I managed to do so.”

Salah has now missed four of his past 10 penalties for Liverpool, but he said he had no intention of standing aside when referee Anthony Taylor awarded a second penalty following a Dúbravka trip on Diogo Jota on 86 minutes.

“I’m calm, I try to do my job and I always practice,” Salah said. “The first one I was confused because the goalkeeper was moving and he was waving and I thought, ‘OK let’s go in the middle.’ He managed to save it very well.

“The second one I did what I did in training and did my thing.”

Liverpool’s second penalty was contentious, with Jota seeming to continue running before a delayed fall in the six-yard box. And Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said that the penalty decisions by Taylor left him “confused.”

“It shouldn’t be given,” Howe said. “Martin has pulled his hand away. He [Jota] had two steps before going down. For me it’s not a penalty. Even the first one the contact was so minimal. We feel hard done by. I’m still confused over the penalties we conceded.

“We’re battling to get our best levels back. The effort and determination was there. As long as we continue to see that we’ll be fine. The most important thing is we’re fighting. We’re missing a lot of players. We’ve had a lot of tough fixtures in a congested December.”



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