Newcastle frustrate Liverpool despite Coutinho strike
A remarkable goal from Philippe Coutinho secured a 1-1 draw for Liverpool at Newcastle United on Sunday, but it was another hugely frustrating match for their manager, Jurgen Klopp.
On a day when victory would have lifted them above reigning champions Chelsea and into the top four in the Premier League, Liverpool struggled yet again to turn their superiority into goals.
Klopp’s team enjoyed twice as much possession as Newcastle, but wasted several opportunities and had to rely on Coutinho’s stunning 30-yard goal for their point at St James’ Park.
By contrast, Newcastle – managed by former Reds boss Rafael Benitez – enjoyed a 100 percent record as they created a solitary clear-cut chance and took it, although Joselu required a huge slice of good fortune to claim the equaliser before half-time.
Liverpool could have few complaints because Newcastle’s work-rate deserved some reward and they did pose early problems for a defence that had conceded 10 goals in their three previous away games.
Former Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, restored to the Newcastle team after suspension, settled in quickly and was responsible for two efforts inside the first five minutes, one blocked and the other easily saved by Simon Mignolet.
The Liverpool goalkeeper also dealt comfortably with a shot from Matt Ritchie before the Reds finally took a measure of control in midfield and carved out several opportunities, starting in the 18th minute when Joe Gomez directed Mohamed Salah’s cross into the side-netting.
Seconds later, Salah almost threatened to take advantage of an excellent through ball from Daniel Sturridge before DeAndre Yedlin timed his interception to perfection, but the pressure was mounting on Newcastle.
They almost cracked when Georginio Wijnaldum struck the post following a corner in the 23rd minute, sparking a goalmouth scramble when Dejan Lovren’s goalbound shot was blocked and Sadio Mane shot wide.
Liverpool finally made the breakthrough in the 29th minute through Coutinho’s remarkable long-range shot, but Newcastle responded seven minutes later in bizarre fashion after Joselu surged onto an incisive pass from Shelvey.
Joel Matip reacted superbly to the danger with a sliding tackle, but could only strike the ball onto Joselu’s shins and the ball rebounded inside the post past the wrong-footed Mignolet.
For once this season, it was difficult to be critical of the Liverpool defence as a goal went past Belgium international Mignolet.
Liverpool’s problems in the final third of the pitch were perfectly illustrated in the 50th minute when Ciaran Clark’s miskick left Sturridge one-on-one with keeper Rob Elliot.
Sturridge, a prolific scorer against Newcastle in his career, shot too close to the keeper on this occasion and Salah hurriedly wasted an equally good opportunity when the ball ricocheted to him.
Similar clear-cut opportunities were non-existent in the remainder of the match, although Liverpool’s substitutes Dominic Solanke and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain did head wide from difficult opportunities in the closing stages.
One interested observer as the game ended with Newcastle’s Mohamed Diame steering a weak shot straight at Mignolet was Amanda Staveley, a 44-year-old financier originally from North Yorkshire who has an estimated £28 billion ($37 billion, 32 billion euros) under her management.
It is believed Staveley, who was involved in Abu Dhabi-Based Sheikh Mansour’s purchase of Manchester City, is interested in buying another Premier League club on behalf of a Middle East-based investment group, who would likely have to pay at least £300m to persuade owner Mike Ashley to sell Newcastle.
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