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Klopp hails ‘massive result’ as Liverpool close gap to top four with 2-0 win over Newcastle

Liverpool closed the gap on the top four with a 2-0 win over a 10-man Newcastle side.

It is always a fixture that evokes memories of Premier League seasons gone by, though this one was the first time in a number of years that both came into the game as rivals for a top four spot.

 

It was Newcastle who came into the game in the all-important Champions League qualification places, while Liverpool had only won one of their last five Premier League outings.

It was a bright and lively start to the game at St James’ Park as Newcastle started on the front foot, though it would be Liverpool who took the lead in just the 10th minute. Trent Alexander-Arnold picked out the run of Darwin Nunez, the Uruguayan taking a touch before absolutely thundering it past Nick Pope.

It was 2-0 just six minutes later, and it was created by a superb pass by Mohamed Salah. Fabinho played it into the Egyptian just outside the box, before the forward played a sumptuous first-time ball over the Newcastle defence to pick out Cody Gakpo who netted for the second successive game.

Newcastle’s evening would go from bad to worse halfway through the first half, Alisson claiming the ball from a Magpies free-kick before launching a rapid counterattack with a long-ball towards Salah. Nick Pope raced out of his area and tried to head the ball clear, only for the ‘keeper to make a complete hash of it, losing his footing, handling the ball, and being shown a straight red card.

Despite being down to 10, Newcastle still posed a threat throughout the game, with the Reds’ defensive frailties still apparent, with Allan Saint-Maximin a constant threat and Alisson perhaps Liverpool’s most important player.

Speaking after the game, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt his side played ‘really well’ before the red card, but said there was still ‘space for improvement’ from his side.

“Massive result, clean sheet, two wonderful goals and space for improvement,” he told Sky Sports. “I thought we did really well – the red card probably would have been a wonderful goal as well if Pope hadn’t got his hand on the ball.

“Against 10 men we didn’t react particularly well. Newcastle had nothing to lose anymore. You could see they’re a top team with top character – they threw everything on the pitch. And we gave them too many set pieces.

“The most negative thing was that Darwin [Nunez] had to go off. We have to see how serious that is – hopefully not too much. We have to fight through these things. A third goal would have been extremely helpful, but we had to fight until the end.

“The relief of the 2-0, the red card, and all of a sudden one step less and the rhythm was gone. I wish we’d have done that better, but in the end I’m really happy we got it over the line.

“Diogo [Jota] could have scored. Bobby [Firmino] started really well and then lost two or three balls that pretty much gave them counter-attacks. Getting through this is the next step for them. Virgil [Van Dijk], playing 90 minutes was hard for him. All the rest was really good.”

Liverpool’s win leaves them just six points behind Newcastle with a game in hand.

Read – Six of the most shambolic managerial reigns in Premier League history

Read Also – Zidane, Ronaldinho, Juninho – Five iconic footballers and their signature moves

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