Clinical Liverpool punish 10-man Newcastle United at St James’ Park
Liverpool’s pursuit of a top-four Premier League finish gathered further momentum at the expense of Newcastle United’s similar ambitions with a crucial win at St James’ Park.
Jurgen Klopp’s side, who secured their first league win of 2023 in the Merseyside derby against Everton on Monday, took control with two early goals from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo.
Newcastle’s miserable night worsened with a first-half red card for goalkeeper Nick Pope, ruling him out of next Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester United at Wembley.
Nunez powered home the opener from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s pass after 10 minutes, then Gakpo scored for the second successive match seven minutes later, pouncing on Mohamed Salah’s piece of creation to beat Pope.
The Newcastle keeper then left referee Anthony Taylor with no option but to send him off after 22 minutes when he misjudged a dash from goal in an attempt to challenge Salah. He slipped and had to handle to stop Liverpool’s Egypt forward from racing clear.
Ironically, Pope’s replacement Martin Dubravka is cup-tied for Wembley having played for Manchester United in an earlier round, leaving former Liverpool keeper Loris Karius as the most likely contender to face Erik ten Hag’s side.
Newcastle were unable to overcome the handicap as they went down to only their second league defeat this season, the first also coming against Liverpool at Anfield in August.
It capped a disappointing build-up to Newcastle’s first Wembley final since the FA Cup in 1999, but they still showed plenty of spirit despite their numerical disadvantage, Liverpool keeper Alisson turning Allan Saint-Maximin’s shot on to the bar, while Dan Burn also rattled the woodwork with a header. The Brazilian also saved well from Miguel Almiron and Callum Wilson.
Klopp will have left Tyneside highly satisfied after desperate away defeats at Brentford, Brighton and Wolverhampton Wanderers as Liverpool now stand only six points behind fourth-placed Newcastle with a game in hand.