Liverpool managed to close the gap on 4th placed Man City to just 4 points with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle, reigniting their quest for Champions League football. For John Carver and his team it is now their 5th straight loss and although relegation is unlikely, there is still a great deal of concern for Newcastle fans.
After having to watch everyone play this weekend, Liverpool were eager to get back to winning ways and came out the traps quickly following a 1 minute silence to mark the 26th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
Raheem Sterling found the back of the net after just 9 minutes, cutting inside Ryan Taylor and firing a quick shot past Tim Krul. Liverpool looked rampant from here, but they squandered a host of chances which could have ended the game well before half time.
Newcastle had shown warning signs in the opening period which caused some concern for Liverpool fans, and the visiting team felt particularly aggrieved when Dejan Lovren clumsily swung and took down Ayoze Perez inside the box. It looked a stonewall penalty, but referee Lee Mason decided otherwise. This fired up John Carver’s team, who then almost equalised just before the break with Mignolet making a fine save from Perez’s header.
The start of the second half saw continued pressure from a Newcastle team that were growing in confidence, and again it was Mignolet who came to his sides rescue after punching away a dangerous looking cross from Remy Cabella.
Liverpool were then given a golden opportunity to put the match to bed after Taylor failed to deal with Henderson’s cross, but Sterling somehow put his effort wide from 6 yards. His blushes were saved by Joe Allen 10 minutes later, who scored a rare goal with a well taken half volley that left Tim Krul no chance.
The introduction of Newcastle’s Jonas Gutierrez in the 67th minute saw Anfield rise to its feet to applaud the midfielder, who returned to football in recent weeks after beating testicular cancer.
The second goal took the wind out of Newcastle’s sails and their frustration soon began to show. Sissoko was given his marching orders after 2 yellow cards in just 5 minutes, punctuating a miserable night for John Carver who will now have more selection problems on his hands when his team face Spurs at the weekend.
An important 3 points for Liverpool also saw them return to winning ways, and with City’s current form there is now some belief that the Reds can qualify for Champions League. It was not all smiles at Anfield however, as Liverpool were again unconvincing in front of goal and sorely missed the presence of Daniel Sturridge. They were also lucky not to let Newcastle back in to the game with a penalty, but they will now be focusing on their F.A Cup semi final clash with Aston Villa on Sunday before travelling to West Brom the following weekend.
5 straight league defeats for Newcastle adds to their woes in what has been a season to forget. John Carver will be aggrieved about the penalty appeal, and his side showed signs of life in large periods of the match, but Newcastle will need to play with this intensity for the remainder of the season if they are to change their fortunes and pick up points.
A Liverpool win rounded off another intriguing round of Premier League action, and with 6 games to go there are still likely to be plenty of twists and turns as the 2014/2015 campaign comes to a close.