Liverpool secured a massive result with a 2-0 win over Newcastle, as last year’s league runners up signaled to top four rivals that their season ought not be written off just yet.
The Reds weathered an early flurry from a Newcastle side backed by a raucous St. James’ Park, managing to surgically pin their hosts back by two goals before sending them down to 10 men—all within the opening 22 minutes.
Big money summer Darwin Nunez signing took down a delightful long ball from Trent Alexander-Arnold before volleying past Nick Pope to open the scoring. Seven minutes later, January signing Cody Gakpo latched onto Mohamed Salah’s clipped pass to score and make it two goals in his past two matches after going scoreless in his first six outings in red.
Only four Premier League players - Haaland, Rashford, Kane, Salah - have more non-penalty goals in all competitions this season than Darwin Nunez, as per @JamesPearceLFC— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) February 18, 2023
A now muted home crowd were then stunned into silence when Pope handled the ball outside of his area after misjudging the flight of a long ball over the top, forcing referee Anthony Taylor to send the Magpie keeper off with a straight red card.
Curiously, with Pope suspended and backup keeper Martin Dubravka cup-tied due to having played for Newcastle’s opponent in next week’s Carabao Cup final, Manchester United, Eddie Howe faces the prospect of starting winter signing and ex-Red Loris Karius in the club’s first cup final since 1999.
Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool are mostly just glad that they got the result on the day, however, with the Reds needing Alisson’s world class shot stopping and some last-ditch tackles from James Milner to weather a spirited second half comeback attempt from the reduced Newcastle.
“In the end, with our situation, someone told me the last time we had a clean sheet away from home was in April, so I’m happy,” the Reds manager said speaking to BBC after the match.
“The goals we scored were perfect against 11. We played really well, but then against 10 we lost for a moment the grip and couldn’t get it back. But we still had our moments where we should have scored more in the second half.”
“We had to fight because of the situation we are in. We had to fight together until the end and that is what we did,” Klopp continued speaking later to Sky Sports.
“There is still room for improvement, and we have to show consistency. We have to keep going. When you are in the position we are in, there is no alternative to consistency to get out of it.”
One of the few negatives was what appeared to be an injury to Nunez’s shoulder after a hard tackle, with Klopp quickly taking the Uruguayan off ahead of Tuesday’s crucial Champions League first leg round-of-16 against Real Madrid.
“Darwin has a problem with his shoulder,” Klopp said. “We have to see how serious that is—hopefully it’s not too bad.
“We will see. He had to go off with a shoulder issue. We need further assessment. At the moment, it’s painful. Hopefully it is just painful.
“Real Madrid, now that is a tough test. But it’s Anfield and I can’t wait.”