Monday, April 02, 2012

Match Report: Newcastle 2 - 0 Liverpool

Newcastle piled the misery on struggling Liverpool with a 2-0 win at St James' Park to move 11 points clear of the Merseysiders.

Papiss Cisse was the hero for Newcastle as the new Magpies No.9 outshone the returning Andy Carroll with both goals to move the home side level on points with Chelsea.

To compound Liverpool's miserable afternoon Pepe Reina was sent off late on for an apparent headbutt on James Perch following a confrontation between the pair.

Carroll was also booked on his first return to St James' Park since his big-money move to Anfield after diving inside the box in an attempt to win a penalty.

The defeat was Liverpool's sixth in seven games and ramps up the pressure on Kenny Dalglish with the Reds now below Everton in the table.

Cisse has now scored seven goals in as many games, one fewer than Carroll had managed in 48 appearances for the Merseyside club.

The Gateshead-born frontman's unhappy return ended with 11 minutes left when he was substituted after he had been serenaded with a resounding chorus of "what a waste of money", while fellow old boy Jose Enrique, who had earlier been taunted over his claims that Newcastle would never again challenge for the top six, spent the final few minutes in goal with manager Dalglish having used all his substitutes.

But it was all smiles for the locals among a sell-out crowd of 52,363 as Alan Pardew celebrated a repeat of his first game in charge with another win over Liverpool.

The game was billed as a significant showdown in the race for sixth place with the Magpies enjoying an eight-point advantage over their big-spending rivals ahead of kick-off.

It was also a homecoming for Carroll and Enrique, both of whom were treated to a hostile reception by fans who mourned their respective departures, but have since found life without them more than bearable.

Carroll's opening 45 minutes did not go as he would have liked as he became involved in a series of physical tussles after being booked for a blatant ninth-minute dive in an attempt to win a penalty.

His fortunes did not improve when he was presented with his first real chance with 28 minutes.

Another former Magpie, Craig Bellamy, caused problems for makeshift left-back Jonas Gutierrez throughout, and although Mike Williamson managed to get to his cross first, the ball looped up nicely for the striker to get to it before keeper Tim Krul, only for him to loop his header over.

By that point, his side was already trailing as a patched-up Newcastle team defended deep and in numbers, but hit the visitors repeatedly on the break.

Krul had tipped a Bellamy cross on to the bar and full-back Danny Simpson bundled the ball off the line after the Dutchman had spilled Steven Gerrard's cross.

But when the home side broke, they did so at pace, and to great effect after 19 minutes.

Hatem Ben Arfa skipped away from Jay Spearing and then Jonjo Shelvey to send the perfect cross to the far post for Cisse to rise and head past Reina.

For all the Reds continued to enjoy more than their fair share of possession, Newcastle created as many openings, and they might have extended their lead 11 minutes before the break when Demba Ba's long-range shot clipped defender Martin Skrtel and wrong-footed Reina, only to drop just wide.

But Cisse should really have made it 2-0 with four minutes of the half remaining when Danny Guthrie crossed from the right and he sent a downward header past Reina, but wide of the post.

The woodwork came to Liverpool's rescue within three minutes of the restart when Williamson climbed highest to head Guthrie's cross against the foot of the post.

But as the half wore on, it was Liverpool who started to gain the upper hand with their host's carelessness in possession hurting them.

Bellamy only just failed to reach Gerrard's inviting 56th-minute cross and Shelvey drilled the ball straight at Krul.

But when the game's second goal arrived, it did so at the other end, and it was Cisse who again did the damage.

Ba stabbed the ball across goal where Ben Arfa helped it on to Cisse, and he calmly stepped inside Reina before firing home.

Luis Suarez might have reduced the deficit within three minutes but his effort was blocked by Perch.

Dalglish's men continued to fight for salvation as the clock ran down, but their efforts grew increasingly laboured.

Carroll was withdrawn to a chorus of boos and went straight down the tunnel, and Liverpool's hopes were finally dashed when Reina senselessly headbutted Perch nine minutes from time and was sent off, although replays showed any contact was minimal.

Liverpool FC Keeper Out Of FA Cup Semi

Pepe Reina has apologized to his Liverpool team-mates for the red card that has ruled him out of the Wembley FA Cup semi-final derby against Everton.

Reina was dismissed eight minutes from time for aiming a headbutt at Newcastle United defender James Perch as two goals from Papiss Cisse sent Kenny Dalglish’s side tumbling to a 2-0 defeat at St James’ Park.

It was a sixth loss in seven league games for the Anfield outfit, their worst such sequence since the 1953-54 season in which they were relegated.

While there was no contact between Reina and Perch, Dalglish had no complaints with the sending-off that leaves the Spaniard facing a three-match ban.

And asked if the goalkeeper had apologized in the dressing room, the Liverpool manager said: “There was a bit of remorse there, yes.

“We started the game well enough, passed and moved and looked pretty threatening. But it all ended up with a lot of frustration and disappointment.

“The frustration and disappointment led to the actions that Pepe took. He got a deserved red card.”

Reina will also sit out the forthcoming Premier League games against Aston Villa and Blackburn, with Brazilian keeper Doni in line to make his competitive debut for Liverpool.

Andy Carroll was given a hostile reception by the home supporters on his first return to Newcastle since leaving for Liverpool in January 2011, and allowed his frustration to boil over when storming straight down the tunnel after being substituted late on.

Dalglish, though, refused to overly-criticize the striker, and said: “When Andy came off, the way the game had gone for the team and that frustration has taken him up the tunnel and into the dressing room.

“Andy was just frustrated and disappointed with the way the game had panned out. I thought he had played well.

“We don’t have a problem with desperation, frustration and disappointment, but we need to channel it better than we have done.”

Carroll had earlier been booked for diving by referee Martin Atkinson after tumbling over Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul inside the penalty area.

“We have no qualms with when Andy went down with the goalkeeper,” said Dalglish. “I thought it wasn’t a penalty and Andy was losing his balance anyway, even if he’d got past the keeper he’d have fallen over.

“We don’t have a problem with that except the yellow card. I just thought Andy had lost his balance and I don’t think it was him intentionally looking for a penalty kick.”

Liverpool should have been awarded a spot-kick moments before Cisse’s 19th-minute opener when Newcastle defender Danny Simpson cleared off the line with his left arm.

And Dalglish added: “We could have had a penalty in the first half which would have put them down to 10 men, but we never got it.

“We just have to carry on and if we shout louder maybe we will get more decisions.

“There were a lot of times we created openings but we have got to take them and believe in ourselves.”

Lawrenson: Kenny Dalglish Will Not Walk Away

Kenny Dalglish will not quit as Liverpool manager, according to former team-mate Mark Lawrenson.

Liverpool won the Carling Cup and are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, but the 2-0 defeat by Newcastle was their sixth in seven Premier League games.

Lawrenson, the BBC Sport pundit, told BBC Radio 5 live: "I don't think he'd walk away.

"I don't believe he'll be sacked. It's a poor run, but the new owners are not going to make knee-jerk decisions."

Liverpool, who has slipped to eighth in the league, meet city rivals Everton in the last four of the FA Cup at Wembley on 14 April.

Lawrenson added: "They could win the FA Cup this season, which would be two trophies, and that would be a strange thing to be sacked for.

"As a manager in the Premier League, it's a crisis if you lose a couple of games.

"They have [Aston] Villa at home at the weekend and I hate saying it's a must-win, but it is. I think he [Dalglish] will be fine, but at any level, you have to win games."

Lawrenson pointed to the lack of impact made by Andy Carroll, Charlie Adam, Stewart Downing and Jordan Henderson, big-money signings brought in by Dalglish for a combined total of almost £85m.

"The biggest problem is Adam, Downing, Carroll and Henderson between them has contributed six league goals," said Lawrenson. "You should be looking at 25-30 goals between them.

"Adam hasn't done it but the four of them haven't. Andy Carroll hasn't been the same player - it's the old 'take the boy out of Newcastle'. He's not been the same."

Speaking on Match of the Day 3, Lawrenson added: "We all thought in the summer that they had added more quality.

"At the moment, they are not defending particularly well. But they are absolutely desperate for a goal-scorer."

No Complaints From Dalglish

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish had no complaints with Pepe Reina's red card or Andy Carroll's petulant reaction to being substituted during the defeat to Newcastle.

The Magpies made it six defeats in seven games for Liverpool with a 2-0 success at St James' Park, thanks to two goals from Papiss Cisse.

To complete a miserable afternoon for the Reds, Reina was sent off late on for an apparent head-butt on Newcastle defender James Perch and Carroll stormed off down the tunnel after he was substituted.

Dalglish felt the turning point of the game was when Danny Simpson appeared to handle the ball on the line with the game still goalless.

"We had chances and we were unfortunate not to get a penalty, and that would have left us playing against 10 men," Dalglish told Sky Sports News.

"Then they got the goal, which from our point of view was disappointing, and the boys showed frustration and maybe started feeling sorry for themselves.

"Pepe got frustrated and got himself a red card and Andy marched up the tunnel (after being substituted), he was frustrated and disappointed for himself and at the result.

"We don't have a problem with people showing their disappointment or frustration, but we need to channel it better than we have done.

"There's no problem with the red card for Pepe but there is a problem that we never had a penalty kick."

Carroll was booked for diving on is first return to Newcastle since his big-money to Liverpool after tumbling over Tim Krul when the keeper challenged him in the penalty area.

Dalglish admitted it was not a penalty, but felt it was harsh to book Carroll, feeling the big striker had lost his balance resulting in him falling over.

"I don't think it was a penalty but neither did I think Andy was trying to get a penalty," added Dalglish.

"The decision not to give a penalty was correct but it was harsh to show him a yellow card, he was always struggling to keep his balance."

Chase On For Holmes

Sky Sports understands a host of clubs are chasing the signature of highly-rated Tranmere defender Danny Holmes.

Holmes has impressed for Tranmere this season and his performances have not gone unnoticed among clubs higher up the football pyramid.

The 23-year-old is out of contract this summer and a number of sides are waiting in the wings to land the full-back on a free transfer.

Rangers had lined up a deal for Holmes, but the move has stalled because of the club's well-documented financial problems.

Old Firm rivals Celtic and Liverpool have also shown an interest in Holmes, but the player's agent, Jonathan Hope, admits the player might be best served to move elsewhere to ensure he is playing regular first-team football before making the step up to the Premier League in the future.

"I am currently exploring options for Danny and it's a massive shame that Glasgow Rangers went into crisis or he would have been there in my opinion next season," Hope told

"Tranmere Rovers wouldn't stand in his way to step up a level to improve his career as he has been having an absolute cracking season and thanks has to go to them for that.

"I had a call from Glasgow Celtic in regards to Danny's availability and Liverpool have not ruled out a move for the youngster.

"I have to be realistic and put Danny at the right level so he is guaranteed game time.

"There is no point in putting him up in the Premier League when he is still developing.

"I have now opened talks with three Championship clubs and a top League One.

"It's just initial talks at the minute so what I'll do is wait till something further develops before going public.

"Danny Holmes will eventually play in the Premier League, as he is developing at a very fast rate through true professionalism.

"We speak every day on his future and I would love to have seen him in a Rangers shirt next year, but unless the crisis is over at Ibrox then that won't be the case.

"Danny has supported Tranmere all his life but I don't believe the fans would complain about a boy furthering his career."

Liverpool Flop Chased By Espanyol

Former Liverpool midfielder Christian Poulsen is wanted by Spanish side Espanyol after rediscovering his best form for in France after a nightmare spell on Merseyside.

The Denmark international was signed by Roy Hodgson in the summer of 2010 but struggled to make an impact in the Liverpool first team and was eventually sold by Kenny Dalglish.

Poulsen eventually joined Ligue 1 side Evian on a one-year contract and has rediscovered the type of form that first attracted the interest of Liverpool.

The 32-year-old has been a regular starter for the French side this season and has helped the side steer well clear of relegation as they currently sit 10th in the league.

His impressive form has caught the eye of Espanyol who are hoping to be able to pick the midfielder up on a free transfer at the end of the season.

"It's correct that there have been some enquiries from clubs from the biggest leagues in Europe," Poulsen's agent Jorn Bonnesen told, as reported on Sky Sports.

"They have noticed that Christian is close to his former level and a very important player for Evian. We will, of course, talk to Evian before we talk to other clubs."

Poulsen has vast experience having played in all of the major European leagues and was previously a hit in Spain when he was a member of the Sevilla side that won the Copa Del Rey and UEFA Cup in 2007.

Hyypia Makes Management Move

Liverpool legend Sami Hyypia has been appointed interim manager of Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, following the sacking of Robin Dutt on Sunday.

Dutt's departure comes after less than a season in command at the BayArena and with Leverkusen facing the prospect of missing out on European competition next season.

Bayer suffered a 2-0 defeat at home to struggling Freiburg on Saturday, and is now 11 points adrift of fourth placed Borussia Monchengladbach.

Hyypia ended his playing career with Bayer last season, and will take joint control of first-team affairs until the end of the current campaign.

The former Liverpool captain has been named as 'team chief' while under-19 coach Sascha Lewandowski will share responsibilities.

Hyypia made 460 appearances for Liverpool during ten seasons at Anfield, while he scored 35 goals for the Merseyside club.

The ex-Finland international was a member of two FA Cup winning sides, while he also has a Champions League winners' medal following the dramatic triumph in Istanbul against AC Milan almost seven years ago.

Borrell On Progress & Villa

Rodolfo Borrell is hoping his young side can rise to the occasion and show their quality when they take on Barclays Premier Reserve League South leaders Aston Villa at Villa Park tonight.

With four games to go in the league, Borrell knows his starlets face a tough test against a Villa side managed by former Anfield double winner Kevin MacDonald.

Villa haven't lost on home turf this season, winning nine games and drawing just one, and are clear favourites to pip Arsenal to the Southern League title.

Manchester United lie in pole position in Liverpool's Northern section but the Reds can go second in the table if they can get three points at Villa.

"Villa is the best team out of both groups because they have the most points, 40, so far and haven't lost at home, so we will have to give a great performance if we are to get a good result," Borrell told

"They are a strong side with a good mix of some young and more experienced players.

"It is good for the lads that the game is at Villa Park and we hope to give our best and put on a good performance.

"What I would like between now and the end of the season is for the lads to keep working hard, perform at a good level and give our best.

"We have got some difficult games left but we have to give the right approach and show that the season has been positive from the beginning to the end.

"The lads have done well this season and we are pleased with their progress."

The squad go into the game full of confidence after last weekend's impressive 2-0 win over Marseille saw them finish third in the NextGen Series - a performance that delighted Borrell.

He added: "We needed to bounce back after that harsh result against Ajax and we wanted to finish with a good feeling in the NextGen Series, and we got that against Marseille.

"For us to finish third out of 16 teams was really good as there are some really good teams in the tournament playing at a good level.

"The lads did a great job and to finish third in this competition is not easy.

"Next season many other strong teams will be playing in the NextGen Series and it will be another test for us and a great experience for our lads to face these kind of teams."