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Liverpool move three points clear after beating Newcastle in six-goal thriller

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 1 Jan 2024

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Mohamed Salah registered a 150th Premier League goal for Liverpool after scoring and missing a penalty in his last involvement before the African Cup of Nations as Jurgen Klopp’s side extended their advantage at the top of the table.

The Egypt international did eventually end the night well in credit as he also provided the assist for substitute Cody Gakpo’s crucial third and also had a hand in Curtis Jones goal which restored their lead.

It moved Liverpool three points clear of second-placed Aston Villa and, more importantly, out of the reach of Manchester City, who are now five behind with a match in hand.

How they cope in Salah’s absence will be crucial to their title aspirations, but the sharpness of Gakpo and Diogo Jota, who won the 86th-minute penalty from which Salah scored his 151st Premier League goal, provides plenty of optimism.

Salah should have put his side in front in the first half when Luis Diaz was brought down by Sven Botman, who added to Alexander Isak’s equaliser to briefly make it 3-2, but his fourth miss in his last 10 spot-kicks provided the determination to put things right after the break.

Newcastle were without Kieran Trippier and Callum Wilson through injury and their 4-5-1 formation suggested they were not looking to be too ambitious in trying to break a near-30-year winless run at Anfield.

That the game was not beyond their reach by half-time owed much to the profligacy of Nunez and the premature desperation shown by Klopp’s side as shots rained in from all angles.

Best of those saw Trent Alexander-Arnold hit the top of the far post from an acute angle from the right wing.

Liverpool wasted numerous first-half opportunities, none more so than Salah’s failure from 12 yards when he fired straight down the middle at Martin Dubravka.

Newcastle’s goalkeeper, in the side due to Nick Pope’s long-term injury, had one of those nights where he looked like stopping almost everything.

He was helped by Nunez in particular, who was guilty of one big miss from Alexander-Arnold’s long pass from inside his own penalty area, shooting straight at Dubravka with Salah charging up in support on his right.

Dubravka saved the Uruguayan’s follow-up effort, with chances also falling to Alexander-Arnold and Jones, in addition to Luis Diaz’s disallowed goal for Nunez’s offside.

Dan Burn also had a goal ruled out for offisde, but it was a rare attack for the visitors.

Nunez looked a different player after half-time. He was picked out by Diaz when Dominik Szoboszlai launched a counter-attack, this time chose the right option in squaring for Salah.

Dubravka denied Nunez from point-blank range and a volley on the run, and even Isak’s well-taken breakaway goal with their first effort since the eighth minute failed to halt the onslaught.

Nunez flicked a header wide, Jones had a shot blocked by Tino Livramento and Dubravka repelled Gakpo.

But Jones was not to be denied, tapping home after Jota had squared from Salah’s pass.

Gakpo bundled home Salah’s cross, Botman headed in from a corner but when the returning Alexis Mac Allister sent Jota racing through, he was brought down by Dubravka and Salah was able to sign off in style.

However, the top-four hopes of Newcastle, with one win in six and and just a solitary victory in their last 12 away league games, look increasingly remote with an 11-point deficit to make up.

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SoccerNews

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