Premier League - Gerrard fires as Liverpool win

Fri, 30 Dec 21:03:00 2011

Steven Gerrard came off the bench to score as Liverpool completed a 3-1 Premier League win over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Liverpool 3 Newcastle 1

It didn't live up to previous classic encounters between these two sides, but Liverpool deservedly came out on top after goals from Craig Bellamy in either half and Gerrard's late strike, and move up to fifth in the table.

Newcastle opened the scoring through Johan Cabaye, but never did enough to win the game and they stay in seventh spot.

The match started slowly with Liverpool playing at far too pedestrian a pace. The first sniff of a chance came for the home side after the quarter hour, with Jose Enrique whipping the ball dangerously across the six yard box, but Stewart Downing dropped off rather than moving forwards and the opportunity was lost.

It took a goal from the away side to spark Liverpool into life and it was one with more than a hint of fortune. On 26 minutes Ryan Taylor had time to come back on to his right foot and sweep a cross into the box. Cabaye got his flicked header target, but it came off the shoulder of Daniel Agger, who was marking Demba Ba, and wrong-footed Jose Reina.

It took Liverpool just four minutes to get back on level terms, however. Charlie Adam created space by turning on to his right foot when he looked as if he would shoot with his left. He blasted the ball across the box and the clearance fell to Bellamy on the penalty spot, who expertly hit a low first time shot into the bottom corner.

Liverpool were on top for the remainder of the half, but failed to create any clear-cut chances.

The start of the second period was much like the first with little action until Gerrard made an appearance on the hour. It completely changed the complexion - and ultimately the outcome - of the match.

It took him just four minutes to make his presence felt as he hit an excellent flat cross that just evaded Andy Carroll, then a minute later an even better pass presented an even better chance for the striker, but the struggling striker's first touch was far too heavy.

But the goal eventually came on 68 minutes, with Liverpool getting in front courtesy of a clever free-kick from Bellamy. He stood over it 30 yards from goal and delayed his shot as Danny Simpson rushed back to cover the near post. It allowed Carroll to follow the defender and cause confusion as the Welshman's ball flew through bodies and into the net.

Newcastle could have levelled a couple of minutes later as Ba met a threaded pass with a lovely first time dink over Reina, but Martin Skrtel's magnficent committed clearance off the line denied what appeared a certain goal.

And having survived that scare, Gerrard settled the contest for Liverpool with 12 minutes to go as he slotted the ball through Tim Krul's legs from a tight angle after being played through by Jordan Henderson.

Tom Embury-Dennis / Eurosport

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