A goal from Divock Origi late in the game fired Liverpool to a crucial 3-2 win over Newcastle United at the St. James’ Park on Saturday night.
Coming into the game with a one-point deficit to Manchester City, the Reds had their task cut out and they began in fine fashion, with Virgil van Dijk handing them the lead just thirteen minutes in, when he headed in a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.
But, Newcastle struck back seven minutes later, as Christian Atsu slotted home a rebound after Alexander-Arnold had blocked Salomon Rondon’s goal-bound effort blatantly with his hand. The Magpies had two great chances to take the lead, but Javi Manquillo was denied by Alisson, while Ayoze Perez’s half-volley bounced off the bar.
After riding the storm out, Liverpool were back in front, as Mohamed Salah applied the finishing touches on Alexander-Arnold’s corner close to the half-hour mark. Nine minutes after the break though, Newcastle leveled things up again, through Rondon’s sublime strike.
WE. KEEP. GOING. 👊🔴
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 4, 2019
Chances came few and far in between from thereon, with Liverpool’s title challenge seemingly crushed. However, the Reds would find a way through Rafa Benitez’s side one more time in the 86th minute, when Xherdan Shaqiri’s free-kick was headed in by fellow substitute Divock Origi, via a deflection of Jamaal Lascelles.
The result sees Liverpool take a two-point lead over Manchester City, who are scheduled to play Leicester City on Monday night. Here’s how we rated the performances of Jurgen Klopp’s men in what was an extremely crucial win.
Alisson Becker: 6/10
Not a lot that the Brazilian international could have done about either of Newcastle United’s goals on the night. Made make a couple of fairly routine stops in either halves, while his distribution out from the back was crisp. Punched away a dangerous corner deep in stoppage time to help Liverpool see out the game.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8/10
Having been left out for the Barcelona game earlier in the week, the Englishman had a point to prove and he did so with aplomb. Got the assist for both of Liverpool’s goals in the first period with some exceptional deliveries from the corner flag and was a menace all night with his attacking output.
Handled the ball to block Rondon’s effort on the goal-line, but lucky that Atsu scored from the rebound after, saving him from a sending-off.
Dejan Lovren: 5/10
Handed a start ahead of Joel Matip, the Croatian international endured a night to forget at St. James’ Park. Put Alisson under pressure with a poor back-pass in the lead-up to Newcastle’s first goal. Was clearly second-best in the physical battle with Rondon, who had the measure of Lovren.
Virgil van Dijk: 7.5/10
The Dutchman gave Liverpool the early head with the simplest of the headers, which was his sixth goal of the season in all competitions. Had his task cut out at the back against the threat of Rondon, but fared much better than his defensive partner. Key for the winner as it was he who instructed Shaqiri to deliver the free-kick instead of Alexander-Arnold.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
A tireless performance from the Scotsman who ran up and down the left flank throughout the game. Delivered some inviting crosses into the box, which his teammates failed to convert. Defensively had his task cut out against the lively Perez and he stood tall. An effective display on both ends of the pitch.
Jordan Henderson: 5/10
A quiet outing for the Liverpool captain who never really got into the game. Has been very influential with his forward forays from the right-sided midfield role, but that was lacking on Saturday, while he did not offer much security defensively either.
With Newcastle pouring runners forward, the Brazilian midfield enforcer had the unenviable task of screening his backline by himself, with support not coming on all occasions. Did well though, breaking up play with some important tackles and interceptions, but his passing left a lot to be desired. Moved into the centre-back position after Lovren’s substitution and did much better than the Croat.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 5.5/10
Up against his former club at his old stomping ground, the Dutchman began brightly but looked leggy and tired as the game wore on. Worked hard but never made any sort of impact, before being replaced by Shaqiri in the second half.
Mohamed Salah: 7/10
A constant threat down the right flank for Liverpool, Salah was on the receiving end of some rough challenges from Matt Ritchie. Got the second goal for the Reds with a beautifully cushioned volley, taking his tally for the season to 22 goals in the Premier League.
Had to be stretchered off in the second half after picking up a nasty head injury when he collided with Martin Dubravka. Klopp and Liverpool will be hoping that it is not as serious as it looked, with two very important matches coming up ahead this week.
Daniel Sturridge: 6/10
A much-improved display in comparison to his performance against Huddersfield Town a week ago. Looked much sharper and effective with his link-up play. Dropped into pockets of space and played in some delectable through balls for Sadio Mane and Salah to chase. Should have done better to put Liverpool 3-1 up, but fired his effort over the bar.
Sadio Mane: 6/10
By far one of the Senegalese speedster’s quietest nights in recent months as he never really managed to offer the level of threat he usually does. Should have made it 3-1 in the first half after being played in by Salah, but fired straight at Dubravka. Worked hard but little came off for Mane on the night.
Xherdan Shaqiri: 7/10
Replaced Wijnaldum a little after the hour mark. Whipped in a brilliant free-kick for Origi to head home and clinch three points on the night.
Divock Origi: 7/10
Came on for the injured Salah in the 73rd minute. In the right place at the right time to head home another famous winner that sent Liverpool to the top of the pile.
James Milner: N/A
Replaced Lovren with less than ten minutes left. Made a couple of tactical fouls and was booked, but helped Liverpool see out the game.