Newcastle managed to hold on for a point against Liverpool in an enthralling contest at St. James Park which was replete with twists and turns throughout.
Yohan Cabaye scored a wonder-goal to give the hosts the lead, before a red card and penalty against Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, converted by Steven Gerrard, appeared to have set Liverpool on course for a certain victory. But substitute Paul Dummett took advantage to score from a corner, before Daniel Sturridge equalised and all hell broke loose in a frantic, end-to-end finale.
Newcastle got off to a decent start, seeing plenty of the ball, but the tempo of the game was higher than the quality of the players on offer, and the opening period was a scrappy one with few chances at either end and possession changing hands rapidly.
Luis Suarez had the first real chance of the game after Glen Johnson won a corner, with the Uruguayan getting a free header, but directing it slightly wide with David Santon clearing on the line to make sure. Newcastle’s ropey defending from set-pieces was to become something of a feature of the first half.
Liverpool were beginning to gain the upper hand, but just then Yohan Cabaye, who had already tried two very ambitious long-range efforts, took advantage of some poor positioning from Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson to pick up the ball on the halfway line and charge goalwards, unleashing a howitzer of a strike from 30 yards which boomed into the far corner out of the reach of Simon Mignolet to give the hosts a lead.
Newcastle’s marking from corners seemed to be Liverpool’s best bet of equalising – Mamadou Sakho was also granted a free header immediately after the goal, but couldn’t find the target. Newcastle would go close themselves too from open play however, Sissoko going the closest by cutting inside and firing through Martin Skrtel’s legs, with Mignolet only just tipping it away.
The game then changed drastically in an instant after Luis Suarez was set free, and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa hauled him down needlessly to give away a penalty and a red card. Newcastle protested that Suarez was offside, although replays showed that Cheik Tiote had played him on. Steven Gerrard stepped up and duly converted the penalty, powering it into the bottom corner out of Tim Krul’s reach.
Liverpool might have expected to have things their own way in the second half, but couldn’t put any real pressure in the early stages in the half, when disaster struck for the visitors – a free-kick from Newcastle somehow evaded everyone and found Paul Dummett unmarked at the back post to finish past Mignolet and restore the hosts’ lead.
Daniel Sturridge had been awful until that point, doing nothing but wasting attacks by dribbling into defenders all game, but Liverpool found their breakthrough at the time and through the player they were looking least likely to do so with. Some fantastic play from Victor Moses released Suarez down the left channel, who teed up Sturridge who headed in from point blank range.
That was the signal for Liverpool to begin an assault on Newcastle’s goal, with the Magpies struggling to hold on for the rest of the game. Luis Suarez hit the crossbar with the whole of the goal to aim at after Moses found him alone in the area, before Sturridge missed an easy chance, blazing wide with a free shot on goal.
Incredibly, Newcastle had a chance to steal all three points at the death when Liverpool’s kamikaze attacking allowed Loic Remy to escape through on goal, but Martin Skrtel was able to catch up to him and deny him the shot.
There was one final moment of drama as Liverpool earned a free-kick on the edge of the area after injury time had elapsed, but Luis Suarez’s goalbound effort was tipped away by Tim Krul, earning his side a well-deserved point in the process.
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