Liverpool moved three points clear in the Premier League title race after beating Newcastle 4-2 in a pulsating game they dominated but only sealed late on.

Jurgen Klopp’s relentless side posted 34 shots in the match to a backdrop of 7.27 of expected goals – the most created by one side in a Premier League game since Opta started recording the data in 2010.

But it was never a straightforward evening as Newcastle were level at 1-1 with 16 minutes to play after Alexander Isak had cancelled out Mohamed Salah’s opener.

Salah had already missed a first-half penalty by that point while Darwin Nunez wasted two big chances from his eight shots at goal as Liverpool inexplicably failed to edge in front.

However, Curtis Jones finally put the hosts clear before Cody Gakpo doubled the cushion moments later.

Somehow, despite the one-sided nature of the stats, Newcastle got within one goal when Sven Botman headed home but Salah scored from the penalty spot after Diogo Jota controversially went down under challenge from Martin Dubravka with the goal gaping.

It was a night where Salah delivered in his last involvement before the African Cup of Nations as Klopp’s side extended their advantage at the top of the table. Liverpool start 2024 with a bang. They are the ones to catch.

Player ratings

Home Team: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (8), Konate (7), Van Dijk (7), Gomez (7), Szoboszlai (6), Endo (8), Jones (8), Salah (9), Nunez (4), Diaz (7)

Subs: Jota (8), Gakpo (8), Mac Allister (7), Gravenberch (7)

Newcastle: Dubravka (8), Livramento (6), Schar (6), Botman (6), Burn (6), Miley (5), Guimaraes (5), Longstaff (6), Joelinton (6), Gordon (6), Isak (7)

Subs: Almiron (6), Hall (6), Lascelles (6)

Player of the match: Mohamed Salah

Salah keeps his nerve to signal Liverpool’s title intent…

Mo Salah celebrates with his Liverpool team-mates
Mo Salah celebrates with his Liverpool team-mates

Salah should have put his side in front when Luis Diaz was brought down by Botman but his fourth miss in his last 10 spot-kicks left Liverpool goalless despite a dominant first half. Trent Alexander-Arnold somehow also managed to spoon the rebound over the crossbar from eight yards.

Dubravka, in the side due to Nick Pope’s long-term injury, had one of those nights where he was repelling everything Liverpool threw at him, especially from Nunez. He was guilty of a big miss from Alexander-Arnold’s long pass from inside his own penalty area, shooting straight at Dubravka before also missing the rebound.

Team news

  • Jurgen Klopp made four changes from the win at Burnley with Ibrahima Konate, Curtis Jones, Dominic Szoboszlai and Luis Diaz returning to the fold.
  • Newcastle made two changes from the side which lost at home to Nottingham Forest last time out as Kieran Trippier was the headline absentee. He and Miguel Almiron made way for Joelinton and Tino Livramento.

Dan Burn also had a goal ruled out for offside, but it was a rare attack for the visitors, who only had one shot in the first half.

Nunez launched a counter-attack after half time and this time chose the right option in squaring for Salah to open the scoring. Dubravka then denied Nunez from point-blank range and a volley on the run, and even Isak’s well-taken breakaway goal with their first effort since the eighth minute failed to halt the onslaught.

Expected goals record
Expected goals record

Nunez departed for Gakpo and Jota and Liverpool improved for the changes as they hunted the winning goal.

It was Jones that was not to be denied, tapping home after Jota had squared from Salah’s pass. There was to be no way back for Newcastle when Gakpo bundled home Salah’s cross and although Botman headed in from a corner, Liverpool had one more goal up their sleeve. It came when Jota raced through and was deemed to be brought down by Dubravka and Salah was able to sign off in style from the spot.

It moved Liverpool three points clear of second-placed Aston Villa and currently out of the reach of Manchester City, who are now five behind with a game in hand.

Nev: Liverpool are potential champions

Sky Sports’ Gary Neville:

“Liverpool are potential champions because of where they are. Their manager is a sensational manager who knows how to do it. And they have three or four players who are world class. Van Dijk, Salah and Alisson but you have to add Alexander-Arnold in, particularly on the ball he’s sensational.

“With those players fit and the manager they have, if they get into the run-in they’ll probably be the one team City won’t want against them because they know they have beaten them before.”

Klopp: Salah is a goal scoring machine

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Jurgen Klopp says he owes the camera operator lots of different shots for finding his wedding ring on the Anfield pitch.

Jurgen Klopp speaking to Sky Sports:

“Mo is a goal scoring machine. It would have helped if he’d scored the first penalty to be 100 per cent honest, but it’s all fine and that’s how it is. He’ll never stop doing these things.

“It’s really extremely special… Darwin had a couple of chances as well. In this moment I would say 99.9 per cent of players would have tried to finish the situation off themselves but he squares the ball. It’s really special, I have to say wow.

“It was a special game, special night.”

Howe frustrated on Jota penalty call

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Eddie Howe believes Martin Dubravka made minimal contact with Diogo Jota when Liverpool were awarded a penalty and Newcastle should’ve been given a penalty when Sean Longstaff was fouled in the box.

Eddie Howe speaking to Sky Sports:

“A lot happened. Action packed game. We’re disappointed with the way we defended.

“I didn’t think the second one was a penalty. And I did think Sean Longstaff’s one before that was.

“It shouldn’t be given. Martin has pulled his hand away. He’s had two steps before going down. For me it’s not a penalty. Even the first one the contact was so minimal. We feel hard done by.

“You have to have the mindset that you create your luck. Feeling sorry for yourself never has any positive outcome.

“The players gave everything. I back the quality of the group. In time we’ll get the results we need.”

Opta stats: Sensational Salah

  • Salah has scored 150 Premier League goals for Liverpool, becoming just the fifth player to reach this milestone for a single club in the competition after Harry Kane for Tottenham (213), Sergio Agüero for Man City (184), Wayne Rooney for Man Utd (183) and Thierry Henry for Arsenal (175).
  • Liverpool are now unbeaten in 28 consecutive home Premier League games against Newcastle (W23 D5), the joint longest home unbeaten run by a side against a specific opponent in the competition’s history (Chelsea vs Everton, also an ongoing run of 28).
  • Newcastle have lost five of their last six Premier League games (W1), suffering five successive away defeats for the first time since January 2021.

What’s next?

Liverpool head south to face Arsenal in the FA Cup third round on Sunday January 7; kick-off 4.30pm.

Newcastle travel to rivals Sunderland in the FA Cup third round on Saturday January 6; kick-off 12.45pm.

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