Newcastle rather tamely surrendered to Liverpool last night as the Merseysiders ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at Anfield.
Two goals from ex-Mag Craig Bellamy and one for media darling Steven Gerrard cancelled out Dan Agger’s own goal that gave Newcastle an unexpected and probably undeserved lead.
The most disappointing thing for me was the fact that we didn’t try our best. I never expected us to get anything from the game in the first place and I was shocked so many people were predicting wins and draws for us prior to the match. However it doesn’t excuse a lack of effort and application or a failure to do the basics correctly which is what cost us with two of the goals.
Alan Pardew made one change from the team that beat Bolton at the weekend as Haris Vuckic came in for Leon Best which signalled a change from the much maligned 4-4-2 to the much fancied 4-5-1/4-4-1-1 with the Slovenian being the one that was tasked with operating the number ten role behind Demba Ba.
Liverpool started brightly and Newcastle struggled to get a foothold in the game. They struggled to gain possession of the ball, they struggled to string passes together and they struggled to create chances. Despite that though they still looked comfortable and Liverpool never really created too much in terms of chances at goal.
This is when Newcastle landed them with a sucker punch. Ryan Taylor crossed into the box for Yohan Cabaye to flick on towards goal. The resultant flick on hit Dan Agger on the arm and deflected in to the Anfield Road end net to give the visitors an unlikely lead.
Unfortunately that lead only lasted for four minutes and Craig Bellamy restored parity courtesy of being in the right place at the right time to pounce on a Charlie Adam cross that was deflected by Cheik Tiote into the path of the Welshman. He still had a lot to do however as NUFC had men back on the line, but he managed to find the bottom corner of the net and send The Kop into raptures.
Indeed it could have got worse for Newcastle as Bellamy turned provider for their next chance. His corner was glanced wide by Martin Skrtel with Charlie Adam inches away from connecting with the ball at the back stick. That set the tone for the rest of the game and Newcastle rarely threatened although Yohan Cabaye ended the half with a speculative drive that went way over the bar.
Half-time: Liverpool 1-1 Newcastle
The second half started with Liverpool looking threatening, with Stewart Downing in particular looking likely to cause some damage. In fact it was down to him that Ryan Taylor was withdrawn at half time after the Scouser picked up a yellow card and looked likely to pick up another. He was replaced with Davide Santon.
However for Liverpool’s dominance Newcastle were still in the game. We had just started to keep hold of the ball for a bit although we didn’t really do a lot with it. Haris Vuckic looked a little lost and our midfield was overrun by the Liverpool trio of Adam, Spearing and Henderson leaving the young Slovenian often wandering about in no mans land between Demba Ba and the midfield.
The referee played a large part in Liverpool taking the lead after awarding the home side a free kick after a foul by Cheik Tiote – a foul which Tiote won the ball in. Craig Bellamy smashed the resultant free kick towards goal only for Danny Simpson to get in the way of a shot that Tim Krul had control of. The right-back nodded the ball downwards which took it away from the Dutch stopper. 2-1 to Liverpool.
However despite the fact that Newcastle had been woeful they could have still equalised, and would have equalised had it not been for an amazing clearance by Martin Skrtel. Yohan Cabaye played a ball behind the Liverpool defence which Demba Ba got to first and flicked it over Pepe Reina only to see his goalbound effort cleared off the line by Skrtel.
It was game over soon after however when Steven Gerrard raced onto a Jordan Henderson through ball and beat Tim Krul from a narrow angle. Personally I feel that the Dutch stopper could have done a lot better but being honest he was hardly helped by Danny Simpson once more.
From then on it was game over as a contest and Liverpool looked the most likely to score. In fact Andy Carroll went close a few times throughout the game with his closest effort ricocheting off the crossbar.
Full-time: Liverpool 3-1 Newcastle
I’ve used the title ‘collateral damage’ for a reason. It alludes to friendly fire, which is a rather handy way to describe this performance as I fell that we shot ourself in the foot. Don’t get me wrong, we were poor and deserved to lose but the fact that we contributed to our own downfall sticks in my throat. Both Danny Simpson and Cheik Tiote need to know that sometimes the best form of defence is to just hoof the ball out of play.
I’m actually struggling to think of a positive from this match for us NUFC fans to digest. Believe it or not I’ve actually managed to come up with one – Fabricio Coloccini didn’t get booked! If he had have received a yellow card he’d have had to miss a game after picking up five bookings, but as it stands the slate is wiped clean and Colo will miss no games.
Well, he’ll miss no games unless the FA decide to take a look at his elbow on Craig Bellamy which left the Wales striker needing four stitches in the head. It wasn’t deliberate – there is a one foot height difference between the pair and Colo wasn’t even looking at Bellamy. Mind you, it’s no excuse for Bellamy’s mildly racist riposte to Tim Krul as he left the field screaming “Dutch prick” at the Holland stopper. mind you, you come to expect that of Liverpool these days. Perhaps they should have stitched his gob up instead?
Next up it’s Manchester United at St James’ Park on Wednesday night. We’ve won one game in seven although some comfort can be found in the fact that Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool have featured in that run of games.
See you next year folks!
Liverpool: Pepe Reina; Glen Johnson, Martin Skrtel, Daniel Agger, Jose Enrique; Jordan Henderson, Charlie Adam, Jay Spearing, Stewart Downing; Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy
Subs: Alexander Doni, Martin Kelly, Jamie Carragher, Jonjo Shelvey, Maxi Rodriguez, Steven Gerrard, Dirk Kuyt
Newcastle: Tim Krul; Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor; Gabriel Obertan, Cheik Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez; Haris Vuckic; Demba Ba
Subs: Rob Elliot, Davide Santon, James Perch, Hatem Ben Arfa, Sammy Ameobi, Shola Ameobi, Leon Best