Liverpool keep the pressure on United
Newcastle 1 Liverpool 3: Liverpool kept the pressure on Manchester United in the race for automatic Champions League qualification as 10-man Newcastle were defeated at St James’ Park.
Trailing 2-0 long before half-time after Peter Crouch and Steven Gerrard - with his 18th goal of the season - had struck, the Magpies fought back to go into the interval just one behind at the break courtesy of Shola Ameobi’s header.
But their hopes of a comeback were ripped apart within seven minutes of the second half when Jean Alain Boumsong was dismissed for a foul on Crouch inside the box and Djibril Cisse converted the penalty to increase the pain.
French defender Boumsong will now miss Wednesday night’s FA Cup quarter-final trip to Chelsea, while a second successive Premiership defeat and a first for caretaker boss Glenn Roeder at St James’ Park confirmed their recent revival is over.
Referee Mike Riley left the north-east to a chorus of boos from the bulk of the 52,302 crowd but, in truth, Newcastle had been well beaten by a side brimming with confidence having at last rediscovered their scoring touch.
Writing in his programme notes, Roeder emphasised the importance of scoring the first goal in a Premiership game after his side’s disastrous start at Manchester United seven days ago, although it appeared his players had not taken the message to heart.
The game was only 10 minutes old when Newcastle were hit by a sucker punch when 6ft 7in Crouch was allowed to get between Boumsong and Peter Ramage to head Jan Kromkamp’s deep cross past the helpless Shay Given.
Just as Newcastle started to look like the might force their way back into the game, they fell further behind.
Shearer appeared to have been fouled as the Magpies attacked the Liverpool penalty area, but Riley allowed play to continue and the home side were punished. Cisse’s cross was chested down to Crouch by Gerrard, and the striker laid the ball off first time for his England team-mate to fire it unerringly past Given.
It looked, just as it had at Old Trafford last week, like game over, but with four minutes of the half remaining, Ameobi gave his side hope. He timed his run to perfection to meet Scott Parker’s cross unopposed and head firmly past Reina.
Newcastle emerged for the second half determined to drag themselves level, but their hopes were dashed within seven minutes. Boumsong missed his kick when trying to clear ahead of Crouch and compounded the error by bundling the striker to the ground inside the box.
Referee Riley pointed immediately to the spot and produced a red card. Cisse stroked the penalty home to make it 3-1.