NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 - 3 LIVERPOOL
Newcastle United: Gayle 1’
Liverpool: Van Dijk 38’, Origi 59’, Mané 89’
The end isn’t near, it’s here, and in truth this game doesn’t matter beyond pride. Pride for Liverpool, the chance to close out a historic and very strange 2019-20 season with a victory. Pride for Newcastle, a chance to beat the Premier League champions and ensure they finish 13th, avoiding the risk of dropping to 14th in the final table. So. Not a lot to play for.
And a lineup to match for Liverpool, with Fabinho rested in midfield—and with Jordan Henderson injured—meaning no natural holding player there while Jürgen Klopp gives another starting chance to young Neco Williams and rings in the changes in attack with a frontline consisting of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino, and Divock Origi.
It certainly wasn’t a promising start, as Liverpool fouled Newcastle off the kickoff and the Magpies restarted quickly, playing Dwight Gayle in while Liverpool were standing still and opening the scoring well inside the first minute. After that, you could say that Liverpool settled down but never really looked all that motivated. And neither did Newcastle, with the Reds holding most of the ball but the two sides seemingly moving at half speed.
Not surprising, perhaps, but far from thrilling to watch, and as it limped towards half time it was hard to see where any more goals would come from until Virgil van Dijk nodded home an Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain cross off a scrambled set piece, with the big Dutch defender still high up the pitch, not marked closely enough as Newcastle’s defenders tried to reset.
The second half kicked off with Liverpool looking a little more motivated and uptempo, looking to turn one point into three and close out the season with a victory. An early chance for Virgil van Dijk to get a second off a corner sent the signal, and then in the 59th minute Divock Origi cut inside and curled the ball bottom corner from outside the area. Liverpool were up 2-1 and the game was starting to feel comfortable.
And Klopp responded to Origi’s marker by bringing on all three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané. Perhaps not surprisingly, Liverpool looked energised by the change and played some of their best football of the afternoon. Towards the end that shot of energy waned and the game slumped back towards indifference—two sides with nothing to play for seeing out the clock. At least until Mané put an exclamation mark on the game and season with a beautiful solo effort on the verge of stoppage time.
The end isn’t near, it’s here, and the Reds have ended their strange and triumphant Premier League season with a victory and 99 points. Now a short, well-deserved two-week break for the players and straight back into it as they prepare to defend their title in 2020-21.