Newcastle United 0 - 2 Liverpool
Liverpool: Núñez 9’, Gakpo 17’
Virgil van Dijk makes a very welcome return to the backline after a miserable seven games on the sideline with injury. Having him on the team sheet definitely increases the confidence going into this game. They need to win this game, especially with Chelsea losing earlier in the day.
Newcastle starts off the match quickly, forcing Alisson into an early save to deny Almiron. For the first 9 minutes, Newcastle appears to be in control, but it is Liverpool who strike first.
Trent Alexander-Arnold can add another assist to his growing tally, this time finding Darwin Núñez storming into the center of the box. Núñez brings it down with his chest and strikes it right into the goal.
And just like that, the game changes completely on its head. Cody Gakpo scores Liverpool’s second after 16 minutes, connecting to Mohamed Salah’s brilliant first touch pass into the box.
It gets a bit dicey for the Reds moments later when Fabinho earns a yellow card for a late tackle. However, that pales in comparison to the straight red presented to Newcastle goalkeeper Nick Pope for handling the ball well outside the box in order to deny Salah on the break.
Alisson does really well to palm away a blistering shot by Saint-Maximin, who confounded Andy Robertson on the left to get the shot off.
Somehow, despite the blistering first 20 minutes and being a man up, Liverpool can’t take advantage of the situation. In fact, it’s Newcastle who look the most dangerous. 40 minutes in, Trippier heads the a corner straight onto crossbar, just a few centimeters from halving the deficit.
In stoppage time, Joe Gomez does well finding Salah’s run into the box. However, Salah’s touch to bring the ball down is too strong, and he sends it right out of bounds for a goal kick.
The weather has turned in Newcastle to start the second half, with the rain pouring down. The changed condition of the pitch is evident early when Núñez slides into Trippier and takes them both out in the process. The Liverpool player comes out the worse for it, rubbing a bruised shoulder.
Jürgen Klopp makes four substitutions before the 60 minute mark to reinvigorate his team. The most important is Núñez, who has a shot blocked by substitute goalkeeper Dubravka and then falls again clutching his previously injured shoulder.
It’s Núñez, Jordan Henderson, Gakpo, and Stefan Bajcetic off and Harvey Elliott, Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota and James Milner on in their places.
Meanwhile, for Newcastle, Joelinton strains a hamstring but really does not want to come off of the pitch. It takes a bit of coaxing for the manager to convince him to exit, probably with an eye towards the League Cup final.
At 73 minutes, Liverpool have made it 3-0 and put the game away, but Salah couldn’t quite connect on Robertson’s clean pass into the box.
If you would have told me at 25 minutes in that the rest of the game would have been this flat, I would have laughed in your face. Yet, here we are. Liverpool are ahead by two and likely to win this game with less than 10 minutes of normal time to go. However, they have had to do far too much desperate defending to keep that scoreline in this half.
Jota nearly seals it deep into extra time, but he takes one too many touches to line up the shot, and ends up giving the defense enough time to regain their footing and defend against it.
While the match didn’t end up being the shellacking it looked set to be early on, Liverpool still kept their clean sheet and earned another three points in the league, putting them in eighth place. Slowly they are starting to crawl out of the hole they dug themselves into. Hopefully that continues when they play their game in hand against Wolves.