Mohamed Salah scored twice as Liverpool stretched Newcastle’s miserable run with a 4-2 victory at Anfield to open up a three-point lead at the top of the Premier League on Monday. Jurgen Klopp’s team should have run out even more convincing winners as Martin Dubravka saved Salah’s first-half penalty among 10 stops. But Salah made amends from the spot after he, Curtis Jones and Cody Gakpo had netted in the second half to inflict a seventh defeat in eight games on Newcastle.
Liverpool head into the Premier League’s winter break five points clear of title rivals Manchester City and Arsenal, with Aston Villa posing an unexpected challenge in second place.
“A special game, special night,” said Klopp. “It was a sensational game from my team. We started extremely lively. Everyone saw Dubravka or we ourselves made sure the score didn’t get too clear.
“Super game. I loved so many aspects of the game bar the goals we conceded.”
Newcastle, by contrast, remain down in ninth and 11 points off the top four as the spotlight grows on Eddie Howe.
The Magpies have the second worst away record in the Premier League this season with just five points from 10 games.
Howe’s men were fortunate not to be blown away by an embarrassing scoreline in stormy conditions at Anfield as Liverpool registered the highest expected goals ever in a Premier League game of 7.53.
“We’re battling to get our best levels back. The effort and determination was there. As long as we continue to see that we’ll be fine,” said Howe.
“We’re missing a lot of players and we’ve had a lot of tough fixtures in a congested December.”
Dubravka denies Darwin
Dubravka has struggled to deputise for the sidelined Nick Pope as Newcastle’s form has slumped in recent weeks while battling an injury crisis.
But the Slovakian was in top form as he denied Darwin Nunez on a handful of ocassions.
Luis Diaz did have the ball in the net midway through the first half, but the goal was ruled out for offside against Nunez.
Diaz was then upended in the box by Sven Botman. But Dubravka bailed out the Dutch defender by denying Salah his 150th Premier League goal for Liverpool from the spot.
The Egyptian, who was playing in his final game before heading out to the African Cup of Nations, has now missed four of his last 10 spot-kicks for the Reds.
“I thought ‘are you going to be leave for the national team with that performance?'” said Salah of his first-half display.
“I just had to really focus, step up and make the difference and managed to do so.”
Finally Liverpool’s pressure told early in the second period as for once Nunez showed a cool head to pick out Salah for a tap in.
But completely against the run of play, Newcastle equalised just five minutes after falling behind.
Alexander Isak timed his run to perfection to latch onto Anthony Gordon’s through ball and the Swedish striker slotted confidently past the advancing Alisson Becker.
That shock did not change the course of the game as the one-way traffic towards the Newcastle goal continued.
Nunez’s night ended in frustration as another golden chance came and went with his final touch as he headed wide.
Klopp sent on Diogo Jota and Gakpo and they delivered what Nunez could not in front of goal.
Jota teed up Jones for a tap in before Gakpo’s scuffed finish from Salah’s cross wrong-footed Dubravka.
Botman’s header briefly brought Newcastle back within one goal.
But any hope of a remarkable fightback was extinguished in controversial fashion as Jota won a second penalty despite a delayed reaction to contact from Dubravka.
Klopp could not watch on the touchline, but this time his talisman did not disappoint to ensure the start to 2024 was a very happy new year for Liverpool.