Liverpool ended 2011 with 3 points thanks to a brace of goals from Craig Bellamy and a goal from substitute Steven Gerrard.
Jay Spearing returned to the starting line up and with Luis Suarez absent through a one match suspension, Andy Carroll started his second consecutive game.
The reds started well kicking towards the Kop, Bellamy a particular threat as he surged down the wings and combined well with Enrique.
However, against the run of play, it was Newcastle who took the lead.
Ryan Taylor sent the ball in to the area and it was headed on to Daniel Agger’s shoulder by Yohan Cabaye. The deflection off Agger wrong footed Pepe Reina, and the ball went in to the net.
Going 1-0 behind had an immediate impact as the reds pressed Newcastle back in to their own half. The pressure was building and when the ball fell to Bellamy he fired a low shot in to the corner of the Kop net to equalise. The reds were unlucky not to take the lead when a superb Bellamy corner was headed narrowly wide by Martin Skrtel.
The game continued to be pulsating in the second half as both teams had chances. However it was the introduction of Steven Gerrard and the removal of the lacklustre Charlie Adam that added that extra bit of quality to the reds ranks.
Within minutes Steven Gerrard was teaching Stewart Downing how to cross the ball – with a number of magnificent crosses in to the box. Carroll headed against the bar and took one touch to many with another of Gerrard’s crosses.
In the 67th minute, Craig Bellamy fired in a free kick and Carroll helped unsettle Danny Simpson in the Newcastle defence – he got in the way of keeper Tim Krul – Bellamy’s free kick sailing in to the net.
Demba Ba had a chance to equalise after beating Reina, but Martin Skrtel was on hand to put in a brilliant goal-line clearance.
Liverpool made it safe when Steven Gerrard danced through the Newcastle defence before nutmegging the Toon’ keeper from a tight angle.
The reds have lost only once in the last 17 games, and move in to 5th – on the same points as Chelsea. The improvement in Liverpool’s football from a year ago is there for everyone to see.
The reds can be pleased with the huge strides forward made in 2011.
Man of the Match:
Steven Gerrard did add quality to the proceedings, but Craig Bellamy’s determination, pace and ability with the dead ball were rewarded with his two goals.