Saturday, December 31, 2011

Match Report: Liverpool 3 - 1 Newcastle

Liverpool's record signing Andy Carroll may have not made his mark against his former club but ex-Newcastle striker Craig Bellamy more than made up for it with two goals at Anfield.

Another for Steven Gerrard on only his second appearance after two months out with an ankle infection ensured the Reds' struggles at home were banished.

Kenny Dalglish's side had drawn four of the last five at Anfield, where they have dropped 12 points so far this season, and for an hour it appeared that run would continue.

However, Bellamy - who had scored in the first half to cancel out Daniel Agger's own goal - curled home a free-kick and Gerrard made sure of victory with an angled shot.

It was the first time Liverpool had scored three goals in a match since the August 27 win over Bolton.

The night was supposed to be all about Carroll, who was given the role of main striker in the absence of the suspended Luis Suarez, but the big centre-forward again came up short.

Playing as a lone front man he struggled for support, especially in the first half, and was often found out of position as he chased the ball.

His best chance came in the latter stages of the match when he crashed a header against the crossbar from close range.

But, fortunately for Carroll, Bellamy's eye for goal was a lot sharper to ensure Liverpool - undoubtedly helped by a 31-minute cameo from Gerrard - came from behind to win a match which looked like a struggle at times.

The story of Liverpool's six home draws this season has been one of failing to take chances and the first one created in the 15th minute was a typical example.

Former Magpies left-back Jose Enrique drilled a cross through the six-yard area but Stewart Downing was moving away from goal rather than towards it and the ball rolled to safety.

Charlie Adam fired a 35-yard shot over while Downing drew Tim Krul into a save low at his left-hand post.

Newcastle took the lead in odd circumstances in the 25th minute.

Haris Vuckic was walking towards the bench having been hit in the face by Glen Johnson's clearance but Newcastle played on and when Ryan Taylor swung in a cross from the left the ball just missed Yohan Cabaye only for Agger to inadvertently divert it past Jose Reina under pressure from Demba Ba.

However, within four minutes Liverpool was level through Bellamy.

Cheick Tiote made a poor attempt at clearing Adam's cut-back from the right of the penalty area and Bellamy drive through a crowd of players from 16 yards.

The home side picked up the tempo and Downing's volley was blocked by Jonas Gutierrez while Martin Skrtel flashed a header just wide of the far post from Bellamy's corner.

Early in the second half Cabaye was lucky to escape punishment after catching Jay Spearing halfway up his shin with a late tackle.

Gerrard replaced Adam just before the hour and the captain's first involvement was to whip in a near-post cross which almost picked out Carroll.

When the England midfielder did find the unmarked striker in five yards of space in the penalty area the £35million signing's first touch let him down badly.

Carroll played a decoy role in Liverpool's second goal but the decisive move came from Danny Simpson.

As Bellamy lined up a 67th-minute free-kick the Newcastle defender decided to back-track to the goalline, allowing Carroll to advance towards Krul. When the set-piece came in Simpson got in the way of his goalkeeper and the ball crept between the two of them.

However, Newcastle would have equalised three minutes later when Ba clipped a narrow-angle shot over Reina - only for Skrtel to clear just inches from the goalline.

Despite Carroll's best efforts he seemed destined not to score when his header rebounded off the crossbar.

Bellamy departed, with blood pouring from a cut above his left eye after a clash with Fabricio Coloccini, to be replaced by Dirk Kuyt for the final 16 minutes.

Not to be outdone Gerrard popped up with a trademark third goal in the 77th minute when he ran from deep to collect Henderson's through-ball and side-foot an angled shot past Krul from the left of the penalty area.

It capped an improved second-half performance and helped ease some of the frustration which had been building up at Anfield.

After their bright start Newcastle have now won one in eight and manager Alan Pardew needs to arrest the slide.

Dalglish - We Deserved It

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish thought the Reds fully deserved their victory after coming from behind to beat Newcastle.

The visitors took a 25th minute lead through Daniel Agger's own goal, but the Reds hit back via a Craig Bellamy brace and a Steven Gerrard effort.

The win was only the second in six matches at home after a proliferation of draws and Dalglish was delighted to get the three points despite not dominating as much as they had done in some of their previous stalemates.

"I thought it was a fully-deserved victory," he said.

"We showed great courage, commitment and desire to get back into the game after losing a goal.

"We equalised, Martin (Skrtel) had a great clearance off the line and I think we deserved to win.

"It's probably the game where we've created the least chances as well, but we've scored three goals. It's funny how that happens.

"I'm not relieved, just satisfied that we got what we deserved. If we got what we deserved in every other (home) game I don't think it would have been unreasonable."

The Liverpool boss praised Bellamy after his brace against his former club.

"It's not the first time we've praised him and it certainly won't be the last," said Dalglish of Bellamy, who left the field late on to have four stitches in an eye wound after a clash with Fabricio Coloccini.

"He took the first one well, because it was tight in the area, and the second one was a free-kick.

"The defender ran back on the line for some reason and Andy (Carroll) ran back with him.

"It went between the goalkeeper and the full-back - it was a good free-kick and may have gone in any way.

"We are delighted for him. We just hope his cut eye isn't too bad. As he came off, I just said congratulations to him."

Gerrard climbed off the bench to score in only his second appearance after two months out with an ankle infection.

Dalglish added: "When Steven's not playing, he's influential so I suppose you can add the word hugely influential when he is in the team.

"He's getting back to fitness which is fantastic reward for him and everyone who has worked with him to get him back to the level he's at now.

"He's always been a huge asset for the football club and he's got a lot of years to go yet and we'll look forward to that.

"I think we were pretty much in control any way (before Gerrard's arrival).

"They had a bit of possession at the start of the second half without really threatening, but obviously, him scoring the third goal helped us.

"He's put the pressure on himself now, scoring a goal, but it's great to see him getting his reward.

"He's worked really hard to get where he is. It was a freak injury, really, so the boy deserves a bit of luck in 2012."

Pardew - Magpies Not At Best

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew felt his side could have been better in their 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.

The Magpies took the lead via a Daniel Agger own goal, but the Reds hit back with a Craig Bellamy brace and Steven Gerrard effort.

Pardew felt Liverpool's second goal, which saw visiting defender Danny Simpson and goalkeeper Tim Krul fail to keep out Bellamy's free-kick on the line, was a key part of the match.

He said: "We were having a good period there and it was never a foul, I don't know why the ref has given that, and then we've made an error on the free-kick.

"The defender and the goalie got in each other's way and we've let a sloppy one in, but we should never have been in that situation in the first place.

"We could have been better last night, I didn't think we were at our best in the second half. I thought we could have been a lot more positive about our play."

Despite the loss, Pardew heaped praise on his seventh-placed side for what they have achieved this year.

He said: "We've done brilliant, we've got some very good players and we've had a really, really good calendar year.

"We need to take that now into next year, and if we do anything like this last year, we may surprise ourselves and the opposition in the league.

"We're still in a good position even though we were beaten last night."

Dalglish Delighted With Return Of Steven Gerrard In Newcastle Defeat

Kenny Dalglish, the Liverpool manager, prayed Steven Gerrard's wretched luck is over after seeing a brilliant cameo from his skipper inspires victory against Newcastle.

Gerrard's appearance as a second-half substitute in the 3-1 win at Anfield proved to be the game's pivotal moment, bringing a miserable 12 months for the 31 year-old to a satisfactory conclusion.

The England midfielder, playing only his second game since returning from a two-month absence due to an ankle infection, scored his side's third and was instrumental in providing the cutting edge Liverpool have missed in his absence.

While Gerrard admitted the last year has been 'terrible', his manager said he deserved a goal for the strides he has made in regaining fitness.

"It's great to see him getting the reward because he was worked really hard to get back," said Dalglish. "It was a freak injury that got him in trouble in the first place. The boy deserves some luck, so maybe 2012 will bring him that.

"Steven has put the pressure on himself now by getting the goal. Even when he's not even playing he's still influential. He's getting back to full fitness and that's fantastic for him."

Gerrard admitted he'll be glad to see the back of 2011, when groin and ankle problems kept him on the sidelines, saying: "I've had a terrible year and I can't wait to put it behind me, but it's great to be back, to be back playing with the lads and getting on the scoresheet,"

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew felt his side could have claimed a point, and argued a poor refereeing decision by Lee Probert prior to Liverpool's second goal on 77 minutes was the key moment.

"The second goal was the turning point. It was never a foul and I don't know why the referee has given it," said Pardew. "We made an error on the line but we shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.

"We could have been better tonight, more positive. But we have done brilliantly in 2011. We have some very good players who are all fighting for each other."

Cabaye Expected To Escape Action

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew is confident Yohan Cabaye will not face retrospective punishment from the Football Association for his horror tackle against Liverpool.

The Frenchman avoided any action from referee Lee Probert in the 3-1 defeat at Anfield on Friday night despite leaving Jay Spearing in a heap with a studs-up challenge.

An FA disciplinary panel could decide to act upon the incident, but Pardew is confident Cabaye, a summer signing from Lille, did not aim to hurt his opponent.

"There was no malice in the tackle. I don't think the FA will look at it," said the Newcastle boss in The Times.

The incident sparked an angry, on-field reaction from Liverpool's players, but boss Kenny Dalglish claims to have missed the tackle.

"I didn't see it," claimed Kenny Dalglish. "If it was a bad one, I'm sure the governing body will take appropriate action."

Liverpool Make Surprise Move For Gary Cahill

Liverpool is trying to gazump Chelsea’s move for Gary Cahill.

The highly-rated Bolton and England defender, 26, had been expected to join the Blues after a £7milllion transfer fee was agreed this week.

But the bid was threatened by a disagreement over personal terms and Kenny Dalglish is poised to swoop.

Cahill, who is out of contract this summer, is understood to prefer staying in the north.

Kop boss Dalglish is a big admirer of the centre-back who would compete for a place with the injury-prone Daniel Agger, Martin Skrtel and Jamie Carragher at Anfield.

Stamford Bridge manager Andre Villas-Boas revealed that talks with Cahill had hit a snag, before appearing to suggest he was looking at alternatives.

Villas Boas said: “We’re still miles apart regarding agreement with the player. We’ll continue to monitor this situation, as we continue to monitor others.

Pool To Land Reds Starlet

Blackpool have agreed a deal to sign Liverpool defender Danny Wilson on loan until the end of the season.

Wilson has yet to make an impact at Anfield since his arrival from Rangers in 2010 and has made just one appearance in the Carling Cup so far this season.

The Scotland international admitted earlier this season that he would be open to a loan move away from Liverpool in search of regular first-team football and Reds boss Kenny Dalglish has now decided to let him move on.

Blackpool boss Ian Holloway has held a long-term interest in Wilson and was linked with a move for the centre-back during the loan transfer window.

Liverpool loaned Jonjo Shelvey to Bloomfield Road earlier this season and they have now agreed to let Wilson make the switch to the Seasiders.

Wilson will complete the move when the transfer window officially opens on 1st of January and Liverpool have allowed him to be eligible for Blackpool's FA Cup campaign.

Gerrard - No Fear Of City

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard insists the Reds have nothing to fear from their trip to title-chasing Manchester City at the start of 2012.

The England international scored on only his second appearance after two months out with injury as the Reds beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield on Friday night.

Now he has his sights set on Roberto Mancini's side as the two clubs face each other in top-flight action on Tuesday ahead of a two-legged Carling Cup semi-final.

And Gerrard, having watched his side have the better of the 1-1 draw against City just over a month ago, insisted the trip to the Etihad Stadium does not faze them.

"They are a fantastic team who have started the season really well but we've got nothing to fear," Gerrard told the club's official website. "Bring it on.

"We showed against them here a couple of weeks ago that we more than matched them.

"These are exciting games, we don't fear these and these are the games as a player you want to play in. I can't wait.

"We've been very strong on the road. It's at home that we haven't got the results our football has deserved but we will go to City full of confidence.

"We will give it our best shot and see where it takes us."