Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle frustrated Liverpool in a 1-1 draw at St James’ Park on Sunday afternoon.
Jurgen Klopp and Benitez met for the fourth time in their careers at St James’ park in a fixture that is known to produce goals. In the previous 16 meetings, a whopping 52 goals have been scored, meaning entertainment was almost guaranteed.
Liverpool had an early chance to take the lead when Salah drove into the Newcastle half and found Mane on the left. The Senegal international then tried to return the favour by finding Salah on the edge of the box, but the pass was just in front of him and the chance went begging.
The rest of the opening quarter of an hour were littered with long range strikes aimed at Mignolet’s goal. First a snapshot from Shelvey, then a strike from Lascelles and finally a more testing effort from Ritchie were all saved by the Reds goalkeeper.
DeAndre Yedlin produced a fantastic piece of defending midway through the half when he used his pace to block to Salah’s path after he was set free behind the defence by Sturridge.
Wijnaldum met a Coutinho corner minutes later and flicked an audacious effort onto the post. The ball rebounded out and Liverpool had three efforts from Matip, Lovren and Mane all blocked before Newcastle eventually cleared.
The visitors did open the scoring after 29 minutes with an incredible strike from Coutinho. The summer-long Barcelona target was found on the left by Moreno, stepped inside and released an unstoppable right-footed strike that landed in the top left corner.
However, seven minutes later Newcastle equalised through a rather fortunate strike from Joselu. The striker was released in behind the Liverpool back line by Shelvey, he dilly-dallied on the ball allowing Matip to get back and put in a strong challenge, but the Liverpool man’s tackle saw the ball bounce off Joselu and past Mignolet into the net.
The reds wanted a penalty minutes before the break after Sturridge won a dangerous looking free-kick. There was plenty of pushing and shoving as the cross was delivered and Yedlin looked to be holding Lovren, leading to Liverpool calling for a penalty. Referee Craig Pawson, however, was not interested and waved play on.
Klopp’s side had a glorious chance to go ahead just after the restart. A terrible mistake from Clark put Sturridge in on goal and he brought a fantastic save from Elliot. The ball then rebounded out to Salah, but he wasn’t able to get over his effort and sent a strike high over the crossbar.
Opportunities to score were few and far between throughout the majority of the second half. Coutinho hammered a dangerous looking free-kick into the Newcastle wall and Salah looked to be linking up well with Sturridge, but nothing seemed to be working for Liverpool.
It was only in the final 15 minutes that the game really sprang to life. Salah delivered a corner and Lovren headed back across goal from the far post, but Shelvey was there to clear the ball away from danger.
Liverpool threw everything forward and substitute Solanke had an chance to grab the winner. Coutinho dinked a ball in at the near post and the striker managed to get in front of his man to meet it with a header, but he powered the effort just wide.
Another substitute, Oxlade-Chamberlain, was next to miss the target with a header. He arrived late at the far post to meet a hooked cross from Moreno, but couldn’t get over his attempt.
St James’ Park was making a huge amount of noise as the game neared its end. The Newcastle faithful were willing their team to a result and they almost responded by netting a late winner in injury time. The ball landed at Diame’s feet in the middle of the box following a corner, but his powerful shot was blocked and Mignolet easily saved.
In the end, the points were shared and Newcastle will come out of the game with their heads held high. Liverpool, on the other hand, will once again be frustrated as their defensive frailties were exposed, leading to more dropped points.