Sunday 28th December 2008 @ 12pm
St James’ Park, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Liverpool put on one of the best performances of the year, in the final game of the year to give Liverpool fans the perfect end to 2008 and the perfect start to the New Year. Liverpool were completely dominant throughout – and could well have ended up with double figures if Shay Given hadn’t put in a phenomenal performance.
The TV pundits, and some fans, will have raised their eyebrows at Rafa’s decision to rest both Xabi Alonso and Robbie Keane but this was another managerial decision that was proved right as the reds simply hammered Newcastle in front of their own fans.
For a long while it didn’t look like the reds would make the breakthrough as Shay Given was pulling off save after save, but on 31 minutes Steven Gerrard made the break through. Within 5 minutes Gerrard whipped in a corner which Sami Hyypia dutifully dispatched in to the net. As injury time ticked away however Newcastle themselves headed home from a corner to go in to second half, unbelievably, with a chance at getting something out of the game.
Another reds corner in the 50th minute sealed United’s fate. Unable to clear the goal-line scramble, Ryan Babel was on hand to grab the reds third goal. Would Liverpool sit back? No chance.
Lucas Levia, who had another good game for the reds, slipped a perfectly weighted ball back to Gerrard who smashed the ball in past Given to help improve the reds goal difference. The captain was substituted shortly later, but he will have been gutted when the reds were later awarded a penalty after N’Gog was brought down. With the Captain absent it was Xabi Alonso who got the opportunity to get his name on the scoresheet as he fired in the reds 5th goal of the game.
Liverpool were class today and extended the lead at the top of the Premiership to 3 points. Happy New Year fellow reds.
Post Match Reaction
“I hope we haven’t seen the best of Liverpool.
“This football club is not conceited. We never blow our own trumpets. All we do is try to do our best in each game and that’s what we will do till the end of the season.
“It’s not about individuals at this club. We feel we have a very good squad. We will use each one of those players when we see fit. When Rafa decides when he wants to put a player on, that’s what we will do.
“We focus on our job, nobody else’s job.
(How’s Rafa doing?)
“He’s feeling much better. Especially after today.”
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Hyypia, Agger, Insua, Benayoun (Alonso 60), Mascherano, Leiva Lucas, Babel, Gerrard (Ngog 70), Kuyt (Skrtel 79).
Subs Not Used: Cavalieri, Keane, Riera, El Zhar.
Goals: Gerrard 31, Hyypia 36, Babel 50, Gerrard 66, Alonso 77 pen.
Newcastle: Given, Edgar, Taylor, Coloccini, Jose Enrique (Ameobi 46), Gutierrez, Guthrie, Butt (Geremi 56), N’Zogbia, Duff, Owen (LuaLua 79).
Subs Not Used: Harper, Xisco, Kadar, Carroll.
Booked: Taylor, Given.
Goals: Edgar 45.
Ref: Mark Halsey (Lancashire).
Match Thread and post match discussion here
Liverpool Possession: 60%. Shots: 25 (On target = 13 ). 474 accurate passes. 69 bad passes.
NewcastlePossession: 40% Shots: 12 (On target = 6). 288 accurate passes. 71 bad passes.