Liverpool beat Newcastle 1-0 to temporarily move top of the Premier League table yesterday. City’s win at Leeds has seen the Reds drop back down to second place but the title race remains too tight to call. Here’s a review of the victory at St. James’ Park.

You can find player ratings from the match here.

° Lineup. Jürgen Klopp made five changes to his side due to the short turnaround between victory over Villareal on Wednesday night and kickoff at St James’ yesterday. Two of the alterations came in defence, with a further two in midfield, and one in attack.

Gomez and Matip came in for Alexander-Arnold and Konaté, whilst Milner and Keita lined up in midfield with Fabinho and Thiago handed a breather. Jota then replaced Salah in the front line. With the return leg in Spain only three days away, the rotation was justified.

° Early Keita chance. There was onus on Naby to provide the attacking thrust and third man runs from midfield. He provided just that when he sent a shot from just outside the box whistling past the post. Robertson wanted a cross but Naby was taking responsibility, it will soon pay off.

° Early breakthrough. The Reds broke the deadlock after 19 minutes. A crunching Milner tackle won the ball back off Schar, before Henderson swept it to Keita on the right. Naby exchanged passes with Jota before coolly rounding Dubravka and firing home. It was a classy finish to hand the side a deserved lead.

Naby Keita has netted 3 Premier League goals this campaign, his best ever goal return in the competition.

° Further chances. Liverpool could have added to their tally in the first half. Mané should have done better when Diaz found him in the box after a quick breakaway. Jota then saw a header tipped over, before Milner chested a half cleared corner down and slammed his shot wide of the post.

° Comfortable first half. The Reds kept Newcastle at bay, with Saint-Maximin well marshalled in attack. It was complete domination by the visitors. Newcastle had been in good form recently but they couldn’t lay a glove on Klopp’s men.

° More chances in the second half. It was more of the same in the second period as the Reds continued to dominate. Robertson should have done better when the ball broke to him with Dubravka stranded. Mané was next to miss as he steered Gomez’s cutback past the near post. That was a sitter really.

° Double substitution. The manager made his move after 69 minutes, sending on Fabinho and Salah for Henderson and Mané. The skipper was once again solid but Mané had an off day. For the first time, he looked like a man fasting. He lacked the strength and energy he usually offers. He could use a rest.

° Liverpool fail to kill it off. The Reds should have been completely out of sight but somehow kept letting Newcastle off the hook. Jota was sent through on goal by the impressive Milner and went for power on the half volley. He saw his effort parried by Dubravka.

Just a few minutes later Jota was in again, and this time he had Diaz free at the far post for a tap in. Diogo failed to spot his teammate though and went for goal, once again choosing power over precision. The goalkeeper pushed it over.

Diaz was then released down the left wing by Keita. He went past Krafth easily and had only the goalkeeper to beat but fired wide. Diaz then sent Salah scampering in behind the hosts’ defence late on but he couldn’t slow his run down and overrun the ball into the grateful arms of Dubravka.

° Tired legs. You could see fatigue creeping in towards the end, with Diaz in particular feeling it after another display full of positive running. The Reds saw the game out with minimum fuss as Newcastle never looked like troubling Alisson in goal.

° Excellent individual performances. A few players stood out for the Reds. Gomez put in an excellent shift at right back whilst Milner and Keita were the business in midfield. Diaz and Jota played well but missed some presentable chances. Robbo and the centre backs were also solid and merited the clean sheet.

The way the backline worked that offside trap was a joy to behold. Newcastle were caught offside on NINE different occasions throughout the ninety minutes yesterday. Absolutely incredible.

James Milner vs Newcastle (LFC rank):

• 100% aeriel duels won
• 86% pass accuracy
• 74 touches (1st)
• 49 passes completed
• 6 ground duels won
• 4 ball recoveries
4 chances created (=1st)
3 accurate crosses (1st)
3 aeriel duels won
• 1 big chance created (=1st)
1 tackle won
• 1 shot
1 interception

Joe Gomez vs Newcastle (LFC rank):

• 100% tackles won
• 80% pass accuracy
• 73 touches (2nd)
• 35 passes completed
• 6 ground duels won
• 6 ball recoveries
• 5 crosses (1st)
• 3 tackles won (1st)
• 2/5 long balls completed (1st)
• 2 aeriel duels won
• 2 interceptions (1st)
• 1 chance created
• 0× dribbled past

° Title race. This was a crucial victory, and with City responding with a win of their own, the title race remains too tight to call. There are flashbacks to 2018/19 when these two sides held their nerve to win week after week in April and May.

Liverpool have no choice but to keep getting the points on the board and then hope City somehow drop points. Unlike in 2019, Manchester City are still in the Champions League. That may have a hand to play yet as both sides juggle the two competitions.

° What next? Liverpool travel to Spain to take on Villarreal at the Estadio de la Ceramica. With a 2-0 first leg lead, the Reds will want to avoid conceding an early goal. If anything, they would want to score one themselves to quieten the crowd and effectively kill off the tie.


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