Premier League • England

Liverpool battle back from early shock to compound Newcastle misery in Anfield victory

Dan Burnham
Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota celebrate the latter's goal for Liverpool against Newcastle, December 2021

Liverpool battled back from an early shock thanks to a quick-fire double before compounding Newcastle’s misery with a late third goal.

Magpies midfielder Jonjo Shelvey scored against his former club inside 10 minutes, but rebound finishes from Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah flipped the script. Trent Alexander-Arnold then put some gloss on the scoreline with a rocket of a strike.

The major team news for Jurgen Klopp before kick-off was the absence of trio Virgil van Dijk, Curtis Jones and Fabinho, who have all tested positive for Covid-19.

Eddie Howe, meanwhile, opted to rest star striker Callum Wilson.

The hosts took the game to their opponents in the early going and the returning Jota tested Martin Dubravka with a low left-footed shot.

Then against the run of play, Shelvey took aim from range and found the bottom corner to give his side the lead.

The visitors suffered a blow soon after, though. Jamal Lewis went down holding his hamstring and had to be replaced by Matt Richie.

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Liverpool toiled after going behind with Jota once again making an attempt on goal. This time he fired wide.

However, it was third time lucky for the forward. A cleared corner was worked to Sadio Mane, who crossed for his team-mate to eventually turn home after his initial header was saved.

Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey shoots against Liverpool, December 2021

Reds take control

Newcastle protested the goal, as Issac Hayden was laid down in the box clutching his head. But as it was Fabian Schar who he had collided with, the goal stood.

And the Magpies’ woes were furthered just four minutes later. Goalscorer Shelvey played an awful back-pass which Mane latched onto.

His shot was saved by the feet of Dubravka, but Salah was on hand to put the rebound into the back of the net.

Allan Saint-Maximin had gone through on goal before and was denied by Allison. Just like that, the game had been turned on its head.

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The Reds were well and truly into their groove. Salah’s chipped pass to Mane was cleared temporarily by Schar, then Jota sent a fierce volley over the bar.

Salah had a glorious chance to double his tally before the break. He had controlled Alex Oxlade-Chambelain’s cross-field pass expertly, but with his second touch shot wide.

A rare opening up the other end developed for Saint-Maximim. With Ryan Fraser free on the left, he was forced to the right and the chance was snuffed out.

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Game management ensures Liverpool win

After the restart Liverpool were content with their lead, despite it being only one goal. Their backline seemed up to the task of dealing with any threat.

Dubravka kept the scoreline tight by pouncing on a loose ball that had Jota’s name on it.

The Reds survived a VAR scare when Alexander-Arnold just about did enough to intercept a cross into the box.

Shelvey had a chance to atone for his earlier error when Fraser won a free-kick in a dangerous position. But his attempt was off target.

Both managers rung the changes, with Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita replacing Salah and Oxlade-Chamberlain, while Wilson came on for Saint-Maximim and Joe Willock took Fraser’s place.

The ever-busy Jota had another shot saved, before Alexander-Arnold thundered a shot from 20 yards out into the roof of the net, ensuring the win was secured.

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