• Thomas Barnes

Newcastle dent Liverpool’s Top 4 hopes despite VAR controversy




After a week of controversy off the pitch, Jurgen Klopp insisted he was fully focused on his side’s encounter with Newcastle in the bid to go into the Premier League’s top 4.


A 95th Equaliser from Joe Willock cancelled out Mo Salah’s early strike after another controversial VAR decision denied Callum Wilson moments before, leaving Liverpool with a mountain to climb to secure Champions League football next season.


Liverpool started the game very bright, and their efforts were rewarded in the fourth minute. Positive play by Mané saw the ball loop into the air for Salah to emphatically trap the ball down and fire past Dubravka from close range.


After going behind, Newcastle didn’t let their heads drop and tried to threaten Liverpool’s backline. A smart run by Longstaff in behind the Liverpool defence resulted in the midfielder being denied by Alisson.


Thiago then arrowed a pinpoint pass into the feet of Salah who cleverly laid it off for Jota, whose shot blazed over the bar from the edge of the box.


The Portuguese international had another chance to double Liverpool’s lead, a brilliant pick out by Mané found Jota in the box but he can’t direct his volley past Dubravka.


Allan Saint-Maximin, unsurprisingly Newcastle’s biggest threat, looked to exploit Liverpool at any given moment. He picked out Joelinton through on goal in acres of space but Almiron steals the ball away from the striker and the two cross paths to waste a huge chance to get back on level.


Newcastle played into the hands of The Reds from their own goal kick as the Hosts capitalised on a sloppy pass by Paul Dummet which allowed the ball to fall to Diogo Jota who dragged his effort wide from six yards out. Liverpool should’ve been two to the good.


Firmino won the ball back from Murphy who took too long on the ball and picked out Mo Salah who went through on goal with just Dubravka to beat, but he couldn’t lift it above the Serbian.


The chances kept on coming for the home side as Firmino was at the heart of the action again once more as he picked out Jota with an eye of the needle pass through a crowd of bodies but Dubravka got down well to his right.


Moments after, Liverpool wasted another chance after Salah found space behind Newcastle’s defence and picked out Mané who seemed to have a simple tap in but the Senegalese forward over complicated it and allowed Dubravka to gather the ball.


Liverpool’s tenth chance landed on the 43rd minute of a half that was dictated by the quality of Thiago Alcantara. The Spaniard began the move with a pass that broke the lines of Newcastle and the ball found its way out to Trent Alexander-Arnold who put in a trademark cross, but Mane was unable to divert his effort on target.


The second half offered much fewer chances but Alisson showed his worth early on, denying Joelinton on two occasions. The striker managed to get in behind the Liverpool defence, but Alisson managed to come off his line quickly to clean up any potential danger. Joelinton then managed to wriggle past Kabak and Fabinho before seeing his effort denied by Alisson.


Liverpool then went down the other end and it was their Brazilian forward who had a chance to double Liverpool’s lead but Dubravka did well to deny the Brazilian.


On the hour mark, Andy Robertson, who probably had his best game in a Liverpool shirt for a while, ignored options ahead of him and opted to strike from long range. The Scottish Captain’s effort arrowed narrowly wide.


More sloppy play around their own box from Newcastle allowed Salah to break but the Egyptian could only find the side netting.


Alexander-Arnold came to life in the second half, and he connected so well with a lovely set by Thiago, but the Englishman’s effort cannoned just wide of the post. What a goal that would’ve been.


From a similar position to Alexander-Arnold, Milner tried his luck on the volley. This time it is on target but Dubravka got down well once again.


Steve Bruce thought his side’s late pressure was rewarded with a Callum Wilson equaliser. However, VAR controversially denied the forward after the ball seemed to connect with Callum Wilson’s arm before tapping home into an empty net.


Moments later, after it seemed there was no way Newcastle would score, justice seemed to be done as Joe Willock’s strike deflected off Fabinho into the Liverpool goal in the 96th minute! The celebrations told a story that they believe they have potentially secured safety as they go 9 points clear of the drop zone.


Ratings


Liverpool


Alisson (6), Trent (6), Fabinho (6), Kabak (7), Robertson (7), Thiago (8), Wijnaldum (6), Jota (5), Mané (6), Firmino (6), Salah (7)


Subs: Milner (6), Jones (6)


Newcastle


Dubravka (7), Dummet (6), Clark (6), Fernandez (6), Ritchie (6), Murphy (7), Shelvey (7), Longstaff (6), Almiron (6), Saint-Maximin (7), Joelinton (6)


Subs: Gayle (6), Willock (8), Wilson (7)


Man of the Match: Thiago Alcantara

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