Liverpool Beat Newcastle: Klopp's Quad Squad Get The Job Done At St James' Park

This wasn't Liverpool at their best, but it was a symbol of how good they can be even in second gear
14:50, 30 Apr 2022

The key to winning titles is emerging victorious even when you are not playing well. While it would be harsh to say that Liverpool did not perform effectively in their 1-0 win over Newcastle United this afternoon, this game is unlikely to trouble any highlight compilations come the end of the season. It was a solid, workmanlike display away from home against a rapidly-improving team. But with five changes from their Champions League semi-final in midweek, and concerted efforts across the board to turn the one trophy they’ve won this season into four, it represented something deeper. It was proof that Jurgen Klopp’s team could be up for the challenge of balancing their priorities and walking away with every prize they seek.

Naby Keita sent an angled early effort just wide, with the Liverpool players appealing for a corner after an apparent deflection. A goal kick was given, but it was not long before they exerted pressure from a set piece. Virgil van Dijk fired a wayward volley over the bar from a corner, but the Reds were getting closer. Joe Gomez had a cross cleared by Emil Krafth, though on this occasion the intended recipient, Sadio Mane, was offside.

Liverpool’s goal arrived in controversial circumstances. James Milner went barreling into Fabian Schar, and on first watch it looked like a foul. The resulting move saw Jordan Henderson cross for Naby Keita to masterfully control, before sliding past Martin Dubravka. The Milner tackle was inspected by VAR and it became clear Milner had reached the ball first and the goal was correctly awarded.

Newcastle might have hoped the video technology would be similarly kind, when Bruno Guimaraes slid a neat through ball into Miguel Almiron. The Paraguay forward did brilliantly to fend off Alisson and slot it home, but a very late flag ruled out the apparent goal. Joe Gomez had stepped up cleverly as Guimaraes hit his pass, and the offside ruling was tight but correct.

Newcastle’s disallowed goal was their only real moment of attacking excellence, and Liverpool nearly punished them just before half time. Diogo Jota rose to meet Henderson’s cross with a powerful header, but Dubravka was equal to it with a magnificent diving save.

Liverpool slowed down a little in the second half, but were still capable of brilliant bursts. Gomez got down the right flank and cut back to Mane. Uncharacteristically, the usually-clinical forward side-footed his effort narrowly wide. He had a shot blocked just after, before attempting to dribble through the Magpies hordes.

Mohamed Salah was introduced to the fray, and provided a greater threat at a point when Liverpool had just started to lull. Jota also stretched Dubravka into action with a solid half-volley. This was not vintage Liverpool, but while fighting on so many fronts in search of the quadruple, it was a performance of quiet, stoic superiority.

The Magpies looked to have finally troubled Liverpool, when Allan Saint-Maximin’s brilliant break saw him play in substitute Chris Wood. The ex-Burnley man had his shot saved, but he was powerless to follow-up on the rebound due to the offside flag. It was one of scant few moments where Newcastle picked up the pace.

Jota’s one-man mission to put this game beyond doubt continued. The exciting forward cut in from the right-hand side and fired towards the top corner. Dubravka, enjoying a brilliant afternoon, once again got up to deny the former Wolves star.

Liverpool survived a late scare when Guimaraes got a good sight of goal, with Alisson doing well to deny his attempt. They never really looked like ceding the lead at St James’ Park though. The mark of champions? Manchester City might have something to say about that. But there is plenty of life left in the race for the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League trophies.

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