THIS time Jetro Willems was not at the centre of mistakes that proved costly; not that the Dutchman was in the mood to point any fingers after Newcastle United suffered defeat at Premier League pacesetters Liverpool.

That is not to say there weren’t any, in fact a few proved as costly as the error he was involved in on the opening weekend against Arsenal. The European champions, in front of their own crowd, didn’t need a second invitation to make the Magpies pay.

There are too many good players in the top-flight to let little blunders go unpunished.

Against Liverpool, intent on winning the title this season with, arguably, the most dangerous front three in world football right now, it was always going to be hard enough to record a clean sheet. The fact there were lapses in concentration would almost guarantee defeat.

Willems’ stunning opening goal in the seventh minute may have raised hope for Newcastle, but there was far too much time to keep Newcastle at bay after that.

Emil Krafth was guilty of allowing Andy Robertson in down the left to tee up Sadio Mane for the equaliser in the 28th minute, while Mane was allowed to score his second five minutes before the break after two more mistakes. Christian Atsu was robbed of possession first, before Martin Dubravka should have gathered Roberto Firmino’s through pass but lacked conviction.

Even then Newcastle could have equalised after half-time when Krafth, left in acres of space when he was picked out by Atsu in the area, fired high into the Kop from inside 12 yards, and that miss proved costly because Liverpool added the third through Mo Salah.

There is no disgrace in losing to Liverpool on their own patch, and Newcastle actually performed reasonably well on Merseyside, but such mistakes were never going to deliver another surprise three points like those secured at Tottenham last month.

Having been at the centre of the storm at the beginning of August, when he was introduced in the wrong position against Arsenal before switching and then allowing the Gunners to break and hit the winner, Willems knows only too well how errors will be punished.

Willems said: “It was not a mix up over the position, it was a miscommunication with me and to me in that game. That can happen. After that we kept going. It’s football. Mistakes can be made.

“You have to learn from them. People make mistakes and mistakes make people. That is the most important thing. It is disappointing if you lose a game after scoring early like we did at Liverpool and this defeat is down to two more mistakes.”

On the evidence of Willems’ individual display he has certainly learned from his frustrating start on Tyneside. He displayed a willingness to attack from the start and got his reward with the opening goal and his first for Newcastle since arriving on loan from Eintracht Frankfurt.

When Divock Origi lost possession in the visitors half, Newcastle broke. Atsu picked up possession and spotted Willems in plenty of space down the left. He cut inside and his clever little flick turned him inside Trent Alexander-Arnold. His weaker right foot did the rest, firing high and beyond Adrian in the Liverpool goal.

“It was a nice goal. I think maybe the nicest of my career,” said Willems.

Clearly the problem with scoring so early against a team possessing Liverpool’s quality is that Newcastle had 83 minutes to hold on. They withdrew, retreated, however you want to describe it, and from that moment on Jurgen Klopp’s side bossed possession.

Newcastle were doing a reasonable enough job defensively to keep them at bay but they had still lost their advantage by the time the flow of the game changed with the introduction of Firmino eight minutes before the break.

The equaliser came when Robertson burst down the flank beyond Krafth. A pass inside to the unmarked Mane was controlled and then powered high inside Dubravka’s top left corner. It was a brilliant finish but the ball should not have been allowed to get to him.

Willems said: “The first half, the first 20 minutes, I think we did quite well. One touch football here and there, searching for space in behind the defenders. We tried to keep going but the two mistakes, two against Liverpool after we scored early, is going to make it difficult. I think we showed we can do some things nice though. Against Liverpool, if you score once then it will be difficult because they do score a lot of goals and they will chase it.”

That second mistake was the costlier one. Firmino had only been on the pitch moments, replacing the injured and less effective Origi, when he was given the ball deep in the Newcastle half following Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain swarming round Atsu and robbing him.

Firmino’s pass in behind should have been comfortably gathered by Dubravka but he ended up bouncing the ball off his knee, hitting Mane, who then had the simple task of tapping into the empty net with five minutes remaining in the half.

After the restart, and Krafth’s miss, Newcastle withdrew further. They rarely worked their way into the Liverpool half and were indebted to Dubravka for making a number of stops when the defence in front of him was carved open. Unlike at Tottenham, where Paul Dummett and Co held firm, they couldn’t deliver a repeat at Anfield.

That said, though, very few defences could have prevented the third. Salah and Firmino combined on the edge of the Newcastle area, with the latter cleverly flicking a return pass into the path of the Egyptian to round Dummett and then slot beyond Dubravka. It was Playstation stuff from two players clearly on the same wavelength.

Newcastle fans, without a league win to celebrate at Anfield since Rob Lee and Andy Cole scored in 1994, can only dream of such football right now, but this was not a defeat or a performance to leave them too downhearted ahead of Saturday’s visit of Brighton to St James’ Park.

“We don’t have to worry too much about this because this was a defeat against a Champions League winner. We can be satisfied with the first half,” said Willems. “We need to believe and keep working, trying. We are capable and we have shown that. We need to keep believing.”