Liverpool beat Newcastle 3 – 1 as Trent scores a stunner. Without Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho because of suspected positive coronavirus tests, Jurgen Klopp’s team went behind early on to their struggling opponents when Jonjo Shelvey scored against his former club following a quick break.
Mohamed Salah scored his 22nd goal of the season as Liverpool closed the gap on Premier League leaders Manchester City with a hard-fought win over Newcastle.
Two goals in the space of four minutes, however, put Liverpool in charge. Diogo Jota’s equaliser had an element of controversy about it, as it came when Isaac Hayden was down in the six-yard box with a head injury, but the Portuguese took advantage by tucking in on the rebound following Martin Dubravka’s initial save.
Shelvey then undid his positive start by gifting a backpass to Sadio Mane, who drew another save from Dubravka before Salah lashed home.
Shortly before Salah’s goal, which meant he equalled Jamie Vardy’s record of scoring or assisting in 15 successive Premier League games, Allan Saint-Maximin wasted a chance as he was denied by Alisson.
Eddie Howe’s team improved after the break as the hosts eased off, and went close via Jacob Murphy and Shelvey, but Trent Alexander-Arnold’s late strike from 25 yards ended the game as a contest, and Liverpool now sit a point behind City.
Newcastle remain 19th in the table, three points from safety, and their task to avoid relegation does not get any easier when they host Pep Guardiola’s league leaders on Sunday.
Salah and Alexander-Arnold turn on the class
Following two 1-0 victories – courtesy of a 90th-minute winner against Wolves and a debated penalty against Aston Villa – Liverpool’s 2,000th top-flight win was a more confident affair, even though they were affected by coronavirus prior to kick-off.
Losing Van Dijk and Fabinho made little difference to a blistering first half, in which Jota and Salah both should have had two goals each.
Despite Newcastle choosing to sit deep and break on the counter attack, Jordan Henderson and Alexander-Arnold were able to keep their opponents on the back foot with an array of lofted passes a tour golfer would have been proud of.
But it was a mistake from Thiago, which led to Shelvey’s surprise opener, when his clearance fell to the Newcastle midfielder, who clipped passed an unsighted Alisson from 20 yards.
It did not deter Liverpool, as they ruthlessly punished the prostrate Hayden before Salah continued his remarkable form with a 22nd goal from 23 appearances this season.
With Newcastle left-back Jamal Lewis withdrawn because of a hamstring injury, Salah found himself up against Matt Ritchie until he was replaced by Roberto Firmino after 74 minutes.
And he took advantage with some clever combinations with Alexander-Arnold, with one pass with the outside of his foot leaving fans drooling.
Liverpool kept their opponents at bay in the second half as their own pace dropped, but as Jota and Mane both missed chances, and Newcastle introduced Callum Wilson from the bench in search of a late equaliser, Alexander-Arnold’s goal was welcomed by the home support.
A fine evening’s work was helped by Everton’s draw at Chelsea, meaning Liverpool extended their advantage over Thomas Tuchel’s third-placed team to three points. In Sunday’s 4-0 defeat at Leicester, Howe said he did not understand how the hosts were awarded a penalty that led to the opening goal.
And he might have a case to complain about Liverpool’s equaliser too.
Hayden appeared to clash heads with a team-mate as the ball was crossed into the area, but referee Mike Dean waved play on, which led to Jota taking advantage.
It ruined a brilliant start for the visitors, who rested top scorer Wilson, Miguel Almiron and Joe Willock and opted for a 4-5-1 formation, seeking to counter attack at pace.
That approach helped create Shelvey’s opener, even if it came from Thiago’s mistake, and the midfielder sprinted the length of the field to celebrate with away fans after his first goal since February.
It was a welcome boost for Howe’s side, who had another chance to score via Saint-Maximin but the forward again demonstrated his recent capacity for making the wrong decision at a vital point.
Newcastle, who have conceded more goals than any other Premier League side this season, showed their defensive fragility by losing two goals in quick succession and they struggled to make many clear-cut opportunities to draw level, although they appealed for a penalty when they believed Ryan Fraser was brought down by Alexander-Arnold.
They firmed up in the second half, however, and Howe’s tactics looked as if they might yield a point before Alexander-Arnold’s strike took the game away from the visitors. The sight of Saint-Maximin hobbling off to be replaced by Wilson was a concern too.
Source – BBC News