Sunday, 1 May 2011

Liverpool 3 - 0 Newcastle United

Andy Carroll hadn't regained full fitness so featured only as a substitute late-on. Liverpool stuck with the team that demolished Birmingham last weekend, with the exception of the left-back position, where Glen Johnson returned from injury to replace Jack Robinson. Meanwhile, Newcastle fielded their expected 4-4-2 with Barton on the right-wing:

football formations

This was a comfortable win for Liverpool thanks to a first-half deflected goal from Maxi, a coolly-dispatched Kuyt penalty (after some tenacious harrying from Suarez and, subsequently, a naive challenge from Mike Williamson), and a simple finish from close range from the Uruguayan to wrap things up. Newcastle didn't have much to offer today, and the home team strolled to victory in the end.

It hadn't always looked so assured for Liverpool, though. They were, in fact, pinned back in their own defensive third towards the end of the first half. Newcastle, in search of an equaliser, won a number of freekicks and corners - it was just fortunate for Liverpool that they had nicked Andy Carroll in January, and that Joey Barton's set-piece taking wasn't up to its usual high standard.

Jonas Gutierrez had been enjoying the best of a battle with the young John Flanagan on Newcastle's left-wing, a state of affairs which changed after half-time. Dalglish instructed Flanagan and Johnson to switch sides, and the England international excelled defensively, winning 7 of his 8 second-half tackles and keeping his Argentinian counterpart quiet.

Liverpool stepped up a gear in the second half, with particularly influential performances from Kuyt and Suarez. They look to have formed an excellent relationship already, their intelligent movement and swift interchange of passing routinely dazzling and dizzying opposing defenders. The midfield was strong as ever, restricting Nolan and Tiote to sideways passes almost exclusively, and Reina, Carragher and Skrtel were rarely troubled.

This win leaves Liverpool in 5th place, above Tottenham on goal difference having played a game more. Spurs' visit to Anfield on the 15th of May takes on real significance in the battle for European qualification.

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