Thursday, April 25, 2024

Newcastle 1-2 Liverpool: Talking points as late Nunez brace brings turnaround for 10-men Reds

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Having completed a league double over this particular rival last season, Liverpool have managed to beat Newcastle United at St. James’ Park again on Sunday, courtesy of two late strikes from substitute Darwin Nunez (81′, 90+3′), after former Everton winger Anthony Gordon gave the home side a first-half lead (25′).

The game

It was certainly a strange game. Liverpool got off on the wrong foot straight away and the whole first half looked disastrous from their point of view. Trent Alexander-Arnold picked up an early booking for preventing Newcastle from taking a throw-in by throwing the ball away, and he soon committed a foul which had the stands of the stadium erupt, demanding the Liverpool right-back to be sent off. It would certainly have been harsh, but referee John Brooks didn’t fall for it and the cards stayed in his pocket that time.

However, Alexander-Arnold soon made a horrible mistake by failing to control a backward pass from Mohamed Salah, and Gordon was on hand to take advantage, break one-on-one with Alisson Becker and open the scoring.

Things soon got a lot worse for the visitors. Just three minutes later, Virgil van Dijk fouled Alexander Isak as the last defender and Brooks immediately produced a red card for the Liverpool captain. A man and a goal down, the prospect of Liverpool getting anything from the game looked very bleak indeed.

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On a side note, Liverpool may have gotten the red card Alexis Mac Allister got in the previous game overturned, but this one is likely to stand even if they do appeal again.

Naturally, Newcastle controlled the game without major difficulties from that point on, and having failed to increase their lead from several good chances, they continued their domination into the second half. Miguel Almiron had several attempts, forcing one extremely difficult save from Alisson and hitting the post after the break.

But Liverpool somehow managed to stay in the game, seeking only occasionally to hit back, though there was one brief period which lasted about five minutes or so, when they pushed the hosts back completely and linked several corners.

Winger Luis Diaz was the player sacrificed by Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp after Van Dijk’s sending off, forced to make way for Joe Gomez. Gomez and Joel Matip did a good job at the back, all things considered.

In the 58th minute, Klopp made a double change, introducing Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott for Cody Gakpo and Wataru Endo, and in the 77th, Matip and Alexis Mac Allister made way for young Jarrell Quansah and Darwin Nunez.

It will have been an exciting Premier League debut for the 20-year-old centre-back, but the introduction of Nunez on top of Jota and Elliott proved decisive. In the 81st minute, Jota slipped a good pass for Nunez to get at the end of, and the Uruguayan striker took advantage of Sven Botman’s moment of clumsiness to take the ball and shoot, beating Nick Pope in the Newcastle goal.

Eddie Howe in the Newcastle dugout had already thrown his remaining attacking options into the fray, and he had no choice now but to hope Callum Wilson and Harvey Barnes, who had replaced Isak and Gordon, respectively, would be able to help his team win. But it was not to be.

Stoppage time was well underway when Elliott won the ball for Liverpool in the middle of the park and Salah sent Nunez running into the box again. With a very similar finish, very close to the final whistle, the former Benfica attacker beat Pope once more and sent the away section of the stands into wild celebrations.

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Newcastle misses punished

As Howe himself admitted after the game, his team played well against an opponent whose quality is hard to deny, even when they have a player less on the pitch. He pointed out that his attackers had chances to finish the game off and failed.

Clearly motivated as a former Evertonian, Gordon was certainly the best Newcastle player on the day. He was a constant menace down the left flank, tormenting Alexander-Arnold with pace and trickery. He got around the Liverpool right-back several times, both on the inside and out wide.

But his efforts were mostly stifled by opposition numbers in the end, apart from a few times when he shot straight at Alisson or employed someone else, much with the same outcome. What Newcastle really needed was at least one of Almiron’s shots to hit the back of the net, but the Paraguayan struck wide a couple of times, forced that save from Alisson, and was really unlucky when he hit the post.

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That’s the one aspect of the game where Liverpool clearly did better, waiting patiently for chances of their own and taking them when they came. Jota’s and Salah’s vision, coupled with Nunez’s freshness and focus in front of Pope’s goal, proved crucial.

Alisson Becker

There can be no doubt about Nunez being the man behind Liverpool’s resurgence and victory in this match, but little would that have been possible had it not been for Alisson in goal. The shot from Almiron, which few other goalkeepers in the world would have kept out, was one moment when the Brazil international saved his team, and just before Nunez’s winner, Sean Longstaff had a chance to win it for Newcastle.

It wasn’t an easy chance to take and the Magpies’ midfielder should be commended for the clever way he tried to flick it past the Liverpool shot-stopper, but Alisson was up to the task once more to deny him from very close range. Again, the outcome of the match would probably have been different had anyone else been standing in goal at that moment.

Year after year, Alisson is proving to be one of the best signing of Liverpool’s glorious era under Klopp.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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