Naby Keita scored the only goal as a much-changed Liverpool beat in-form Newcastle United 1-0 at St James’ Park to climb above Manchester City at the top of the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp, who this week signed a contract extension to keep him at Anfield until 2026, had complained about the timing of this early kick-off and made five changes following Wednesday’s 2-0 win over Villarreal in the Champions League.
Mohamed Salah, Thiago Alcantara and Trent Alexander-Arnold watched on from the bench as Keita – one of those recalled – drilled in a contentious goal with 19 minutes gone.
Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka kept his side in the game but Liverpool saw out the victory to move two points above City ahead of the reigning champions’ trip to Leeds United.
Keita’s winner came after he exchanged passes with Diogo Jota and rounded Dubravka, though Newcastle’s players felt the goal should have been ruled out for a James Milner foul on Fabian Schar.
However, while Milner did catch his opponent, replays showed the Liverpool midfielder cleanly won the ball first and referee Andre Marriner was not instructed by VAR to review the goal.
Newcastle had a Miguel Almiron goal rightly disallowed for offside and otherwise struggled to create any openings, with Liverpool going close to a second before half-time when Jota’s header was palmed over.
Jota was denied by Dubravka three times in the second half and Sadio Mane planted a shot wide from a good position in his final meaningful involvement before being replaced by Salah.
Newcastle had won four games in a row heading into this contest, though they only really tested Alisson through a Bruno Guimaraes drive as Liverpool picked up a 13th league victory in their past 14 outings.
What does it mean? Over to you, City
Newcastle’s four Premier League wins in April was the most of any side ahead of this game but Liverpool, while not entirely comfortable at 1-0, were good value for this victory.
The Reds are now unbeaten in 15 Premier League games in 2022, winning 13 of those and keeping 11 clean sheets, with this latest win moving them back above City – even if only for a few hours.
Naby makes the difference
Keita was recalled to the starting line-up and was the unlikely hero for Liverpool, with his strike set up by Jota on the Portugal international’s 50th league appearance for the quadruple-chasing Reds.
The three Premier League goals scored by Keita this season is his best return in a campaign in the competition, while all seven of his goals in the top flight have come against different teams.
Bruno kept quiet
Guimaraes had been involved in four goals in his previous three league outings for Newcastle, but the Brazil international was kept on the fringes in this match.
While he had more touches (64) and completed more passes (28) than any Newcastle player, the former Lyon midfielder’s only real involvement in an attacking sense arrived late on when Alisson made a routine stop down low. He then had a chance to release Jacob Murphy, but got his pass wrong, enabling Andrew Robertson to intervene.
Key Opta Facts
– Newcastle are winless in 11 Premier League meetings with Liverpool (D4 L7) since a 2-0 victory in December 2015.– Liverpool have picked up 40 points from the last 42 on offer in the Premier League (P14 W13 D1), only dropping points away to City during this run (2-2).– Newcastle suffered their first Premier League loss at home since mid-December against City (0-4).– Liverpool have kept 21 clean sheets in the league this season, more than any other side. Only in 2005-06 (22) have they had more shutouts in a Premier League campaign.– Eddie Howe has lost 13 of his 15 games against Liverpool in all competitions (W1 D1), including each of the last eight – only against City (lost all 11 games) has he endured a longer losing run against a single opponent in his managerial career.
Liverpool travel to Villarreal on Tuesday for the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, while Newcastle might yet have a say in the title race, as their next league outing is away at City.