Newcastle 0-2 Liverpool: The Reds keep their top four push alive.
Nick Pope’s dream of playing in the Carabao Cup final was shattered as Liverpool secured a 2-0 victory over Newcastle, putting themselves back in the race for the top four.
The intense Premier League match at St. James’ Park saw the England goalkeeper receive a red card after just 22 minutes for handling outside the penalty area. As a result, he will be suspended for Newcastle’s upcoming clash with Manchester United at Wembley.
Martin Dubravka is cup-tied, having already played for United in the competition earlier this season during his loan spell, and Karl Darlow is on loan at Hull, leaving former Liverpool keeper Loris Karius to make his debut unexpectedly.
The Magpies’ hopes of extending their unbeaten run to a club-record 18 games were already crushed by goals from Darwin Nunes and Cody Gakpo within the first 17 minutes.
The visitors, who are the only team to beat Newcastle in the league this season, ruthlessly took advantage of the space behind central defenders Fabian Schar and Sven Botman to secure a 2-0 win.
The start of the match was marked by a high tempo by the home side, with referee Anthony Taylor’s whistle sounding frequently.
Miguel Almiron received a well-weighted pass from Alexander Isak, but his poor first touch resulted in a smothered attempt by keeper Alisson Becker. Saint-Maximin’s follow-up shot was unsuccessful, slashed across the face of the goal after his initial cross was dealt with.
Despite Newcastle’s promising start, it was Liverpool who opened the scoring after 10 minutes. Darwin Nunez controlled Trent Alexander-Arnold’s excellent ball over the top and fired past Nick Pope, who strike survived a VAR check for offside.
The Reds then doubled their lead seven minutes later when Cody Gakpo timed his run perfectly to meet Mo Salah’s ball over the top and beat Pope, who was stranded once again, with Newcastle’s hope of a reprieve via VAR coming to nothing.
The match took a disastrous turn for Eddie Howe’s side in the 22nd minute when Pope rushed out of his goal in an attempt to prevent Salah from reaching Alisson’s clearance.
Misjudging the flight of the ball, Pope dived to head clear but inadvertently diverted it onto his arm, resulting in a red card for handling the ball outside the penalty area.
The referee had little option but to produce a red card which ended the keeper’s Wembley dreams as well as any realistic chance of recovery in the game.
Dubravka was called from the bench in place of Elliot Anderson, whose first Premier League start had lasted just 24 minutes, but it was opposite number Alisson who had to be at his best to tip Saint-Maximin’s 31st-minute shot at the end of a superb solo run on to his crossbar.
The bar came to the Red’s rescue once again three minutes before the break when Dan Burn’s header from a Kieran Trippier corner cannoned back off it to safety.
Liverpool retained possession with ease for long periods after the restart knowing their job was all but done against the 10 men.
Saint-Maximin in his best form for some time, ensured the Reds could not relax too much with the Frenchman feeding Isak to shoot over on the turn with 52 minutes gone.
Schar headed wide from another Trippier corner, but Dubravka had to dive full-length to tuen away Nunez’s 57th-minute attempt as Jurgen Klopp prepared a quadruple substitution.
Alisson denied Callum Wilson with eight minutes remaining, before the Reds almost added to their lead in a late flurry of chances.