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Liverpool 4-2 Newcastle: Player ratings as Reds open up three point lead in Premier League

Goals from Curtis Jones, Cody Gakpo and a brace from Mohamed Salah were enough to secure Liverpool a crucial 4-2 win over Newcastle United.

The Reds were thoroughly dominant at Anfield on New Year’s Day, having 32 attempts on goal and accumulating an xG over seven (the highest in the league’s history). Had it not been for an in-form Martin Dubravka and an out-of-form Darwin Nunez, Liverpool could’ve thumped Newcastle.

The win sees Liverpool open up a three point lead atop of the Premier League table, while Newcastle drop down to ninth in the table.

How the game unfolded

Attacking toward the Kop end in the first half, Liverpool started the game extremely brightly, pinning Newcastle United back into their own defensive third. That early pressure would almost culminate in a goal just two minutes in, when a Trent Alexander-Arnold effort from outside the box spun narrowly wide of the foot of the left post following a deflection.

Ten minutes later, Alexander-Arnold turned provider in the final third to create the home team’s next opening. The right-back fired a midfield-splitting pass into the feet of Darwin Nunez who, after playing a quick one-two with Mohamed Salah, found himself through on goal on the right of the penalty area. The out-of-form striker – who has scored just one goal in since early November – was unable to beat Martin Dubravka with his subsequent strike.

In the 18th minute, Liverpool deservedly had the ball in the back of the net, with Luis Diaz firing into the bottom corner of the net. The goal was, unfortunately chalked off for a narrow offside after a rather lengthy VAR check.

Almost straight from the restart, Diaz was back in the action in the box – winning a penalty for his side after dancing past Svan Botman. Up stepped Salah to take the resulting spot kick and, very surprisingly, the superstar forward saw his strike straight down the centre of the goal saved by Dubravka.

Despite being utterly outplayed in the first half, Newcastle manage to find the back of the before half-time. Dan Burn rose highest at the back post following a quick counter attack to head home, but the goal was ruled out for offside via a VAR check.

Seemingly angered by almost seeing a goal be conceded from his defensive side, Alexander-Arnold came within a whisker of scoring the goal of the season so far in the 41st minute. The right-back volleyed the ball violently from a tight angle on the right flank over the head of Dubravka, and just off the wrong side of the post and clear of danger.

After huffing and puffing in the first half, Liverpool finally got their goal at the start of the second. A sweeping move led by the Reds’ attacking trio culminated in Nunez squaring to Salah, who made no mistake with his finish – tapping into an empty net from eight yards out.

Moments later, Nunez would spurn to great chances to double his side’s lead – being denied by Dubravka on both occasions.

Nunez and Liverpool were made to rue said miss opportunities in the 53rd minute, when Alexander Isak stormed through on goal after latching onto a defence-splitting pass. And with what seemed like his first two touches of the ball during the game, Isak was able to control before delicately dinking over Alisson to make it 1-1.

A frustrated Klopp made a sea of changes after conceding, rejigging his frontline by bringing on Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota on the hour mark. The former would miss a great chance straight after coming off the bench, firing a volley straight into the mid-riff of Dubravka from point blank range.

With their xG sitting at a rather ridiculous four, the Reds managed to get an all-important second goal with just 20 minutes remaining. Another incisive attacking move led to Salah slipping the ball through to Diogo Jota on the right of the box, before the substitute unselfishly squared to Curtis Jones who was able to tap into an empty net.

Soon after, it was 3-1. Gakpo was on hand to bundle home the ball after Salah curled a delightful cross with the outside of his foot into the danger area.

Newcastle were able to bag another consolation goal in the 80th minute through Sven Botman. The centre-back rose highest from a set piece to nod home the fifth goal of a frantic game.

The goalscoring didn’t end there either, with Dubravka clipping the heels of Jota in the box to give Salah a chance to make it 4-2 – a chance that he was able to take, slotting into the bottom left corner of the net.

Mohamed SalahMohamed Salah

Great performance / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

GK: Alisson Becker – 6/10 – He had nothing to except pick the ball out of his net.

RB: Trent Alexander-Arnold – 7/10 – Exceptional on the ball, spraying the ball around in a way that no other full-back can do.

CB: Ibrahima Konate – 6/10 – He didn’t have a massive amount to do.

CB: Virgil van Dijk – 6/10 – Caught out in the lead up to Newcastle’s equaliser.

LB: Joe Gomez – 6/10 – He didn’t do much wrong again in his new role.

CM: Dominik Szoboszlai – 6/10 – Liverpool fans were perhaps expecting him to be a bit more effective in the final third than what he was.

CM: Wataru Endo – 7/10 – A battling outing against physical Newcastle midfield.

CM: Curtis Jones – 8/10 – Worked hard in the middle of the park and provided some quality on the ball too.

RW: Mohamed Salah – 9/10 – Missed a penalty in the first half, and then was utterly unplayable in the second. He scored a brace and set up another. Top class.

ST: Darwin Nunez – 5/10 – A fairly disastrous outing in front of goal, missing chance after chance, however he did contribute a tidy assist to help Salah open the scoring.

LW: Luis Diaz – 7/10 – Scored an offside goal in the first half and was generally very lively in and out of possession throughout.

Substitutes

SUB: Diogo Jota (63′ for Diaz) – 7/10 – Came on and made a difference once again, setting up Liverpool’s second goal.

SUB: Cody Gakpo (63′ for Nunez) – 7/10 – The Dutch international bagged Liverpool’s third goal. Surely he has to start ahead of Nunez next week.

SUB: Ryan Gravenberch (63′ for Szoboszlai) – 6/10

SUB: Alexis Mac Allister (76′ for Endo) – N/A

Manager – Jurgen Klopp – 8/10 – His team were a joy to watch on Monday evening. As fluid as they’ve been in a very long time.

Martin DubravkaMartin Dubravka

The goalkeeper played very well / Jan Kruger/GettyImages

GK: Martin Dubravka – 8/10 – He made a stupid amount of saves. 10 to be exact – and one was a penalty. Stunning outing.

RB: Tino Livramento – 3/10 – Had his work cut out for him up against Diaz.

CB: Fabian Schar – 2/10 – He couldn’t deal with Liverpool’s offensive prowess at all.

CB: Sven Botman – 3/10 – Gave away a penalty in the first half and generally struggled up against Nunez. Scored a late consolation goal.

LB: Dan Burn – 1/10 – It looked like a mismatch against Salah, and it was. He couldn’t lay a glove on his opposite number.

CM: Lewis Miley – 4/10 – Struggled to keep up with pace of play from Liverpool.

CM: Bruino Guimaraes – 3/10 – A rather clumsy outing from the Brazilian.

CM: Sean Longstaff – 4/10 – Cut a frustrated figure for much of the game.

RW: Joelinton – 3/10 – Way too many silly fouls, even by his standards.

ST: Alexander Isak – 7/10 – Had one chance in the game and he took it.

LW: Anthony Gordon – 6/10 – Set up Isak’s goal with a lovely pass, but looked leggy otherwise.

Substitutes

SUB: Miguel Almiron (54′ for Miley) – 5/10

SUB: Jamal Lascelles (82′ for Burn) – N/A

SUB: Lewis Hall (82′ for Joelinton) – N/A

Manager – Eddie Howe – 3/10 – Injuries haven’t helped, but Howe’s team seem to have completely lost their defensive shape in recent weeks. They were all over the place at Anfield.

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