Monday, 4 May 2009

Liverpool 3 Newcastle United 0

Premiership Match Report

Here's our excellent match day report from 'The Main (Stand) Man':

A game almost completely dominated by a Liverpool side which exposed the lack of belief within a Newcastle team destined for relegation barring a swift turnaround in both performances and results.

The Anfield crowd seemed strangely subdued prior to kick-off, perhaps reflecting a growing realisation that games are fast running out in pursuit of the league title, with Manchester United annoyingly unwilling to go on a losing streak. The Kop, however, would find their voice throughout the match, thanks to a competent, though not scintillating, performance.

The first ten minutes of the match seemed to offer some hope for the Geordies. Liverpool struggled to find their feet in the afternoon sunshine and repeatedly gave away possession all too easily. In response the away side did push forward with purpose, although without the cutting edge that would have seen them turn this into a numerical advantage.

That was about as good as it got all afternoon for the travelling fans, who I must say have to be commended for their volume despite the ever growing spectre of demotion to the Championship. Add to this 60 years without a trophy, and the vocal exertions become even more impressive.

When Liverpool began to take a foothold in the match, it wasn’t long before the Newcastle defence sprung a leak. After some patient build up within the Liverpool midfield, the ball was eventually pushed into the box where it broke for Kuyt. His powerful cross was met by a grateful Benayoun who had the simplest of tap-ins to continue his excellent recent form. It wasn’t long before Liverpool doubled their advantage. Riera won a corner with some good running, and upon being delivered into the box Kuyt was allowed to roam freely before diving to head home past Harper.

The Newcastle keeper, along with the clearly over-painted woodwork on the Anfield goals, was responsible for keeping the score looking mildly respectable for his side. Long range efforts from Gerrard and Reira were beaten away with Liverpool looking to run riot, while Xabi Alonso took it upon himself to prove just how easy the Soccer A.M. crossbar challenge is, bouncing an excellent 25 yard effort back off the horizontal and bounced off Harper to safety when it could easily have rebounded into the net.

The half time break saw one change, with Gutierrez replacing Lovenkrands in the Newcastle line up, but the resultant alteration in the formation did little to change the pattern of the game. Liverpool again pressed forward, although without the urgency which has seen them be so prolific of late. Further efforts from Kuyt, Gerrard and Riera failed to extend the Liverpool advantage, and the woodwork was dealt heavy blows from Alonso (again) and Gerrard. In the midst of all this, however, the game was interrupted by a typical scything challenge from Joey Barton which resulted in yet another red card for the troubled Newcastle man. Alonso was carried off on a stretcher, although his face, as he was moved round the perimeter of the pitch, did not indicate a major problem.

With the Newcastle team continuing to provide nothing in attack despite the introduction of Michael Owen for Viduka, Liverpool continued to create chances, and after Arbeloa was fouled on the right wing, the resulting free kick was swung in to four Liverpool players who had discarded their markers and any one of them could have nodded the ball home. As it happened, it was Lucas Leiva who got to the ball first and left Harper with no chance, capping a decent cameo after replacing Alonso.

At the full time whistle, there was only one team that looked like ending up victorious, and the problems faced by Alan Shearer (who had accepted the Kop’s assessment of his managerial career to date with a good natured smile) and Iain Dowie were further highlighted. Liverpool have given everything into chasing down a title they should never have allowed to end up in United’s hands, and the hope for decent showings from Manchester City and Arsenal will continue until the mathematical possibility of winning the league has gone.

Thanks again 'Main (Stand) Man', We hope to get more reports from you in the future.

Match time and date: KO 13:30. 3 May 2009

Yellow cards: Newcastle Smith, Coloccini.

Red card: Newcastle Barton.

Referee: P Dowd.

Attendance: 44,121

Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Aurelio; Mascherano (Ngog, 89), Alonso (Lucas, 80); Benayoun, Gerrard, Riera (Babel, 63); Kuyt. Substitutes not used: Cavalieri (gk), Dossena, El Zhar, Skrtel.

Newcastle (4-5-1): Harper; Beye, Coloccini, Bassong, Duff; Martins (Owen, 80), Butt, Barton, Smith, Lovenkrands (Gutierrez, h-t); Viduka (Nolan, 80). Substitutes not used: Guthrie, Edgar, Carroll, Krul (gk).

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