Liverpool – Lovren (11’), Salah (47’), Shaqiri (79’), Fabinho (85’)
Newcastle – None
Liverpool cruised past Newcastle United in a 4-0 thriller at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Klopp's men broke the deadlock early on with an excellent strike from Dejan Lovren in the 11th minute.
The Reds then went 2-0 up early in the second half as Mohamed Salah fired home from the spot.
Two late goals from Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho ensured a comfortable 4-0 victory for Klopp’s men as they now sit six points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
The momentum was very much in Liverpool’s favor as they prepared for the boxing day clash at Anfield. Pre-match, they had a 4-point cushion at the top of the league which could’ve extended to seven if their rivals were to drop points.
Trent Alexander-Arnold returned to the starting lineup after he faced a short spell on the sideline with an injury.
It was a quiet opening few minutes with Liverpool dominating possession, but failing to find a break-through in a resolute Newcastle defense. Newcastle then mustered up the first decent chance of the game, with Joselu smashing his header wide.
In the 11th minute, Liverpool found their opener out of nowhere as Lascelle’s clearance from a corner found Dejan Lovren just inside the penalty area. On the half-volley, the center-back smashed the ball past Dubravka and put the Reds 1-0 up.
A couple of minutes into the second half, Liverpool was awarded a penalty as Dummett appeared to pull Salah back in the box. The Egyptian who stepped up to take the penalty, sending Dubravka the wrong way and extending Liverpool’s lead to two.
Liverpool then found their third through Shaqiri via a well-worked goal. Alexander-Arnold put in a low cross which found the Swiss international, who tapped the ball in from a couple of yards out.
Fabinho got the fourth of the game and his first goal for Liverpool in the 85th minute after Salah whipped a corner into the box. The Brazilian beat Diame in the air and nodded the ball into the back of the net.
This win meant Liverpool kept their spot at the top of the league, now with a six-point cushion. Following their defeat away to Leicester, Manchester City now sit seven points off the top spot in third place behind unlikely title rivals, Tottenham Hotspur.
Player and Manager Ratings:
Alisson – 7 (Wasn’t able to do much when Joselu headed wide early on, was lucky to get away with one there. Made a big save late on to prevent Newcastle finding a consolation goal).
Alexander-Arnold – 7 (A few poor crosses but overall a very solid game from the young right-back. Got the assist for Shaqiri’s goal and although a few went wayward, put some really dangerous balls into the box).
Van Dijk – 7 (Missed the header for Joselu’s early chance, but solid as always. Clearly got bored as he decided to play further up the pitch late on).
Robertson – 7 (Just doesn’t stop running. Does he ever tire?)
Lovren – 8 (Scored an absolute stunner to put the Reds 1-0 up. Played an incredible ball over the top to find Mane in the box, had the forward controlled it better, it could’ve been the assist of the season).
Henderson – 8 (A true Captain’s performance. Always looked forward and was sound defensively as well).
Wijnaldum – 6 (Not his best game and was subbed quite early. Probably needs a rest).
Shaqiri – 7 (Scored a goal late on, clinical. Not everything he tried came off and didn’t provide enough protection defensively in the first half. Improved after the break).
Salah – 7 (Forever causing defenses problems. Won and scored the penalty).
Mane – 7 (Had everything but the finish. Could’ve scored a few goals had his touch and finishing been a bit better).
Firmino – 7 (Gave the ball away a few times but always looked dangerous. Subbed early).
Fabinho – 7 (Scored his first goal for the Reds).
Sturridge – 7 (Got some important minutes and looked dangerous at times).
Clyne – 6 (Came on at left-back. Didn’t have much time to do anything).
Manager Rating: Klopp – 8 (Made the correct changes and set the team up well. Important he treats every game like a cup final and he’s doing that really well. Not taking any risks).
Dubravka – 6 (Had a lot to do, made some decent saves).
Yedlin – 5 (Struggled against Robertson. Did cause problems for Liverpool at times though).
Lascelles – 4 (It was his poor clearance that led to Lovren’s goal. Not the finest game for the center-half).
Fernandez – 4 (Really struggled against a good Liverpool attack).
Dummett – 4 (Conceded the penalty and struggled to handle Salah).
Ritchie – 7 (Best performance from a player in a Newcastle shirt. Caused a lot of problems and put in some brilliant balls).
Hayden – 4 (Invisible in the midfield).
Diame – 5 (Made a few crucial interceptions).
Kenedy – 3 (Didn’t turn up. Not the attacking threat he usually is).
Muto – 4 (Really struggled. Didn’t offer much going forward).
Joselu – 5 (Could’ve put the Magpies 1-0 up early on. Other than that, didn’t have many chances).
Longstaff– 6 (Was denied late on by a brilliant Alisson save. Offered more than the others).
Murphy – 6 (Didn’t have enough time to do anything worth mentioning).
Manager Rating: Rafa Benitez – 5 (His side struggled against a good Liverpool side. Received a good reception from the Anfield crowd.).
Liverpool takes on Arsenal at Anfield on the 29th. Another huge game for the Reds and an opportunity to further their lead before they face Manchester City at the Etihad in the New Year. Will be looking for a better result than their last game against Arsenal, where the teams drew 1-1.
Newcastle faces a difficult test on Saturday when they take on Watford at Vicarage Road. The Magpies have some difficult games coming up against Manchester United and Chelsea, so Rafa will be looking at this one as a “must-win”.
By Hannah Pinnock