Lovren 12’, Salah 47’ (pen), Shaqiri 79’, Fabinho 85’
There’s really not that much to say today that isn’t accompanied by joyous shouts. Liverpool are sitting pretty on top of the league after Christmas, six points clear of second-place Tottenham and seven points clear of an increasingly troubled Manchester City. To add to the general good feeling of the day, FiveThirtyEight have just bumped Liverpool up in their Global Club Soccer Rankings. To first place.
The Reds performance against Newcastle was sublime and worthy of their place (at least for now) at the top of the world. Liverpool began the game strong and never really lost momentum for the entire 90 minutes, much to the glee of a very loud, very happy Anfield.
Newcastle’s start was as bright as Liverpool’s, with a header that was just off target. Unfortunately for Benitez’s side, things went downhill from there. Liverpool’s first goal came from a poor clearance by Newcastle captain, Jamaal Lascelles, that landed the ball at Dejan Lovren’s feet. Lovren, who now has a bit more proof that he is in fact the best defender in the world, drove the ball into the top of the net.
The rest of the first half was mostly punctuated by brilliant attempts on goal from Liverpool. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Xherdan Shaqiri all seemed to have room to run and try their hands (and feet) at sending the ball home. After watching attempt after attempt fail (and only some the result of excellent saves from Newcastle’s Dubravka), it’s fair to assume that we need a post-Christmas investigation of a Kop end forcefield. Either that or we need to spend money on a finishing coach.
Liverpool wrapped up the first half far more comfortably than the 1-0 scoreline implied, with brilliant performances (if not brilliant finishes) from everyone on the pitch.
Then came the onslaught.
Immediately after the second half began, Paul Dummett prodded Salah, who immediately went down in the penalty box. In what can only be described as a Boxing Day miracle, a penalty was awarded to Liverpool at Anfield. There’s already been enough discussion on whether or not the call was justified (probably not) and whether Salah went down too easily (he did), so we really don’t need to talk about it any more. Liverpool were on course to win the game either way, and honestly, it’s nice to have a penalty called in our favour for once.
Salah, of course, converted the penalty with a low drive that passed Dubravka, and Anfield rang with the voices of thousands of hungover Reds.
Confident of a victory, and presumably comfortable with how well Liverpool were continuing to press, Klopp was able to rotate players and brought Fabinho on for Wijnaldum and Sturridge on for Firmino.
Liverpool were finally able to slot in one of their chances when Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass found Shaqiri, who tapped in Liverpool’s third. The fourth goal of the night came from substitute, Fabinho, who headed in a corner at the 85th minute. Alisson was tested very few times throughout the game, but did manage to save a late effort from Sean Longstaff to keep another clean sheet at home.
If Anfield weren’t already singing in joy when the final whistle blew, they certainly were after learning about Leicester City’s late second goal against Manchester City over at King Power Stadium. Elsewhere in the league, United continued their much-improved form under new coach Ole Solskjær and Spurs moved to second after a ridiculous 5-0 win against Bournemouth.
So there it is. Liverpool with a deserved win, where the only complaint any fan could have is that the scoreline was only 4-0. Newcastle didn’t stand much of a chance against Klopp’s side who remain utterly unmatched in the League so far this season.
The Reds will have two days of rest before they face Arsenal in the last game of 2018.