Naby Keita, Joe Gomez and Luis Diaz impressed as Liverpool edged past Newcastle United despite the heroics of Martin Dubravka.
Liverpool continued their Premier League title push thanks to a narrow 1-0 victory over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Saturday. The three points help the Reds momentarily move to the top of the league table, with Manchester City set to take on Leeds United later on Saturday.
It was not the most clinical performance from a Liverpool side that looked extremely wasteful in front of goal. While Newcastle United did make a promising start to the game, the hosts were not really able to cause any real problems, largely thanks to a disciplined defensive effort from the visitors that expertly kept Chris Wood on a leash.
To put things into perspective, the Reds mustered an astonishing 24 attempts on goal, most of which were either saved by Martin Dubravka or missed poorly by the attackers. Newcastle, in comparison, had only four attempts, half of which were taken from outside the penalty area.
Even when the Magpies were supposed to push forward in search of an equaliser, they were largely pegged back by a Liverpool side determined to find the second goal. But neither team was able to find the back of the net, with Liverpool ultimately coming away with the three points, in a result that could prove to be pivotal in the context of the title race. Here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sets of players in their hard-fought contest at St. James’ Park.
Martin Dubravka: 8/10
Martin Dubravka was the pick of the performers for Newcastle United. He made a myriad of smart saves throughout the ninety minutes and was extremely quick in assessing the intentions of the Liverpool attackers. A masterful display in goalkeeping from the Newcastle number one.
🇸🇰 Martin Dúbravka against Liverpool:
🔘 9 Saves
🔘 100% High Claims
🔘 100% Run-outs
🔘 100% Aerial Duels
🔘 53 Touches
🔘 15 Passes
🔘 9 Accurate Long Balls
— Mozo Football (@MozoFootball) April 30, 2022
Emil Krafth: 6/10
Emil Krafth had a busy day dealing with the threat of the Liverpool wingers. He did not provide much going forward but did well to keep things tidy despite the intense pressure from the opposition.
Fabian Schar: 5/10
Fabian Schar looked helpless in the lead up to Liverpool’s opener. He went down and almost gave up on recovering before cluelessly pleading to the referee for a foul that was not there. Not the best of outings from the Swiss international, who later picked up a knock.
Dan Burn: 7.5/10
Dan Burn was much more of a reliable defensive outlet for Newcastle than Schar. He kept his composure in the backline while his aerial presence made it difficult for Liverpool to create anything from crosses.
Matt Targett: 6/10
Matt Targett played a key role in denying Liverpool the second goal, thanks to his late clearance. Apart from that, the left-back did not do himself any favours by allowing the Liverpool players to cut inside and cause problems down his flank.
Bruno Guimaraes: 7/10
Bruno Guimaraes had a relatively decent game, judging by his sheer work ethic in the middle of the park. He was always willing to track down the Liverpool ball carriers. His personal duel with James Milner was quite exciting, though the Brazilian did not receive optimum support in midfield.
Bruno is our best player. So play him in his actual position instead of shelvey. #NUFC
— Jack (@Boshhhhhh) April 30, 2022
Jonjo Shelvey: 5/10
Starting against his former club, it was not the best of performances from Jonjo Shelvey. The ex-Liverpool midfielder lacked control in the middle of the park and offered very little creativity from his set-piece deliveries.
Joe Willock: 5/10
It was a bit surprising to see Eddie Howe starting with Joe Willock by shifting Allan Saint-Maximin to a central role. The move did not pay off as the former Arsenal man failed to offer his trademark driving runs forward and become a threat inside the box.
Miguel Almiron: 5/10
Miguel Almiron tried his best to make things happen in the final third. But he was never quite able to create any meaningful opportunities and was largely anonymous after the restart. A poor game for the Paraguayan international.
Allan Saint-Maximin: 4/10
Starting in a central role in the final third, Saint-Maximin lacked the desired impact on the proceedings. He looked quite sloppy on the ball, giving away possession on numerous occasions while offering minimal impact on the ball. He struggled even after shifting to a wider role later in the game.
Most successful take-ons after 60 minutes in Newcastle vs Liverpool:
🥇 Luis Diaz 
🥈 Allan Saint-Maximin 
🥈 Bruno Guimaraes 
ASM bettered at his own game. 👀🇨🇴 pic.twitter.com/IUXyuE39dP
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 30, 2022
Joelinton had to operate in a more attacking role than usual under Eddie Howe. He was not able to replicate his performance against Norwich City, though he did look much better when reverting to a deeper role later in the proceedings.
Jamaal Lascelles: 5.5/10
Jamaal Lascelles replaced the injured Schar around the hour mark. The Englishman was quite lucky not to concede a goal as the Liverpool attackers found space in the box rather easily.
Chris Wood: 5/10
Chris Wood offered no threat at all following his introduction midway through the second half. He lacked proper service from the wider areas but more importantly, the striker simply did not have the pace or dynamism to trouble any of the Liverpool centre-backs.
Jacob Murphy: N/A
A late replacement for Krafth. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.
Alisson was barely tested as Newcastle United could only muster two shots on target in the entire game. But the Liverpool goalkeeper responded brilliantly whenever called upon and was extremely alert to any danger, including the occasional long balls.
Joe Gomez: 8.5/10
Joe Gomez had to start instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back. The Englishman did not disappoint either, providing a sturdy defensive effort to keep Joelinton and later Saint-Maximin quiet. He was arguably the best defender on the pitch, and it appears Jurgen Klopp’s decision to start him at right-back was nothing short of a masterstroke.
A word for Joe Gomez today.
He only played 14 Premier League minutes before February and was even left out of match day squads completely.
He never moaned and playing out of position, puts in another great performance.
Well in, Joe 💪 pic.twitter.com/HnVoaw33VQ
— Anfield Edition (@AnfieldEdition) April 30, 2022
Joel Matip: 7.5/10
Joel Matip’s experience and calmness at the back were major assets to the Liverpool backline that was hardly tested by the opposition. The former Schalke man also expertly used his physical and aerial prowess to keep Wood quiet during the second half.
Virgil van Dijk: 7.5/10
In a game where he had nothing much to do defensively, Virgil van Dijk tried his best to offer the quality in the build-up play. Unfortunately, most of his attempted long passes did not quite hit the mark. He was, nevertheless, quite solid at the heart of the four-man backline.
Andrew Robertson: 7.5/10
It was yet another mature performance from Andrew Robertson. The left-back took wise decisions in regards to his offensive and defensive actions throughout the course of the game. It led to a faultless performance, with Liverpool successfully keeping the clean sheet.
Naby Keita: 8/10
Starting ahead of Thiago Alcantara, the expectations were high on Naby Keita to deliver against Newcastle United. But the former RB Leipzig man somehow exceeded expectations by showing an excellent moment of composure to convert his chance in the first half and score the all-important winner.
Wonderful feet from Naby Keita 😍
Liverpool take the lead and the Newcastle fans aren't happy, but it looks like James Milner got his challenge just right… pic.twitter.com/1gdngbRXmb
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 30, 2022
Jordan Henderson: 7/10
Jordan Henderson’s presence in the middle of the park was incredibly vital in a game where Klopp introduced many changes to the starting eleven. The Liverpool captain offered the leadership and kept things neat and tidy, denying the Newcastle United midfielders the opportunity to dominate the proceedings.
James Milner: 7/10
It was an excellent shift from James Milner. The veteran was not shy of throwing himself challenges and putting pressure on the Newcastle United ball-carriers. The Reds will certainly miss him in the coming years.
Luis Diaz: 8.5/10
Luis Diaz was given the nod in place of Salah on the right flank. The Colombian worked extremely hard to keep the Newcastle defence occupied. His relentless pressure on the far side played a key role in pegging the Magpies back in the second half, at a time when the opponents were supposed to push forward.
Luis Diaz vs Newcastle
• 31/36 (86%) passes
• 2 chances created (2nd in game)
• 58 touches
• 4 shots (2nd)
• 5/7 dribbles (=1st)
• 2/6 aerial duels
• 1/1 tackle
• 1 clearance
What a performance 👏 pic.twitter.com/vLAl7L7UPD
— LFC Stats (@LFCData) April 30, 2022
Diogo Jota: 7/10
Diogo Jota put in an excellent shift in the number nine role. The Portuguese international worked hard for his chances and registered the assist for Keita’s goal. He was not as impressive as Diaz, but his shift was vital in helping Liverpool bag three points.
Sadio Mane: 6.5/10
It was not the best of games for Sadio Mane, given his lofty standards. He looked very wasteful in front of goal and missed the biggest opportunity of the game. Liverpool could have easily come to rue the missed opportunities if Newcastle United had equalised at any point in the proceedings.
Mohamed Salah: 6.5/10
Mohamed Salah probed the Newcastle Unite defence quite well after coming on for Mane midway through the second half. But he was denied time and time again by a certain Martin Dubravka.
Fabinho replaced Henderson in the 69th minute to offer more freshness and composure in the middle of the park. His ability to rotate possession was useful in helping Liverpool stay on top of things.
Thiago Alcantara: N/A
A late replacement for Milner. Did not play enough to warrant a rating.