01 May 2011

Liverpool 3-0 Newcastle

Flanagan Carragher Skrtel Johnson
Meireles Lucas Spearing Maxi
Kuyt Suarez

Maxi 10'
Kuyt 59' (pen)
Suarez 65'

There's no room for sentiment in football. Dalglish, the cold-eyed realist, left Liverpool's £35m Geordie on the bench against his old side, keeping faith with the surprise hat-trick hero. However, Liverpool did revert to the 4-2-2-2 formation often preferred, and were able to restore Johnson to the starting line-up.

Dalglish's belief in Maxi paid dividends almost immediately, with the Argentinean again inexplicably in the right place at the right time in the 10th minute. Williamson accidentally headed Flanagan's cross straight to the in-form marksmen, whose half-volley deflected off Simpson to wrong-foot Krul. It goes without saying that football requires both luck and talent.

With the early goal pocketed, it seemed likely Liverpool would roll their way to glory as against Brum. But Newcastle responded well: keeping possession, restricting the counter-attack with a high back line, and threatening through Jonas up against Flanagan. At the same time, the Geordies racked up set plays, with five first half corners and five free kicks in Liverpool's half. But Barton's delivery was thankfully atrocious all game long, while Carragher and Skrtel ensured Jonas' crosses didn't find the heads of Ameobi or Lovenkrands. For the second straight game, Reina probably could have fallen asleep in the goalmouth.

Liverpool cleverly compensated for Jonas' threat by switching Johnson and Flanagan after the interval. Following a chance for each side before 90 seconds were off the clock – Barton wide on the half-volley from Nolan's cross, then Suarez's left-footed shot deflected in the near post side-netting – Liverpool reclaimed momentum thanks to Suarez's increasing influence. Running at defenders, constantly looking to bamboozle markers, Suarez first won a spot kick on the counter when released by Reina's punt and turning past Williamson into the box. Kuyt converted yet again, sending Krul the wrong way.

Less than six minutes later, Suarez finally returned to the score sheet, his first goal in five weeks. His throughball luckily deflected to Kuyt, who looked up and found the Uruguayan's clever run toward the penalty shot, aided by Maxi's movement to draw defenders. Unsurprisingly, the striker made no mistake.

From there, Liverpool were satisfied with counter-attacking and content to stifle. Carroll replaced Maxi for the final 20 minutes, but was unable to provide more than a cameo against his old club. With 10 to play, Shelvey replaced the left back again, as against Birmingham, used more and more as a jack-of-all-trades utility player when injuries have required. And finally, the human victory cigar Joe Cole replaced Suarez with seconds to play, allowing him the standing ovation Maxi received last time out.

With Barton's set play delivery consistently horrible, Newcastle posed next to no threat once the home side got a handle on Jonas. Liverpool were supremely comfortable, scoring three for the fourth-consecutive home game, the first time that's happened since the magical run-in in 2009. Lucas and Spearing bossed midfield; Suarez demonstrated the difference he can make; Kuyt kept his perfect record from the penalty spot (coincidentally, scoring for the fourth-consecutive game); Maxi continued his hot form; Johnson stepped straight back into the fray with little ring rust; and Carragher, Skrtel, and Reina were fairly untroubled. Yet again, there's very little to complain about, which has become a very nice change of pace.

Most importantly, the impossible has happened, and Liverpool are amongst the European places for the first time this season. Tottenham, with a game in hand, are only in sixth on goal difference, but still have to come to Anfield as well as travel to City. If Liverpool win their last three games – nowhere near assured, no matter recent form, with two away from Anfield – they'll be in the Europa League come next season. Which is jaw-droppingly amazing when you realize the lows reached during the previous 10 months.


Neel said...

I felt Reina's distribution was stunning today considering there was no Carroll to win the headers. And Flanagan had absolutely nothing to do after switching to the left while Johnson showed his class at the right. Lucas and Spearing were immense - this was probably their best game defensively together to date. Never looked like losing a tackle.

RedWill83 said...

Brilliant result! Dalglish really has achieved something special in the few months he's taken over. I can't see anyone else as Liverpool manager come 2011/12.

Bobby said...

How great was Suarez doing the Kuyt "karate-chop fist pump" goal celebration after the third today? Warmed my cold heart.

pancreality said...

haha ring rust...
Kenny Dalglish, we're going to have to place flames around the Liverbird ala Phoenix if you keep this up... making us dream again you jolly good man..
p.s. I wonder if Carroll is related to Conan (of Cimmeria)

pancreality said...

Hey Nate, Hmmm I'm curious as to what would have happened if Williamson had fouled Suarez outside the box, behind the byline... I'm thinking either Asylum, Community Service or a Freekick from the edge.. If you're not sure or find you have to look this up don't worry - I'm just being a little lazy and should actually read up on it!

nate said...

That's an excellent question.

Say Suarez was off the pitch behind the byline, but had pushed the ball away from Williamson into the box. I actually have no clue what the call would be if Williamson hauled him down off the pitch. And I don't really know where to look for the answer either.

This is gonna bug me. Nice going.

Alex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pan said...