Updated Mon 18 Dec 2023, 12:02 by NUFC News

Newcastle United 1-2 Liverpool : Premier League match report, highlights, player ratings, and Howe/Gordon reactions

Newcastle United 1-2 Liverpool : Premier League match report, highlights, player ratings, and Howe/Gordon reactions
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Newcastle somehow conspired to get beaten 2-1 by Liverpool at St. James' Park on Sunday evening, despite the Reds losing captain Virgil van Dijk to a straight red card after just 28 minutes for a foul on a goalbound Alexander Isak.

The Magpies were already ahead at that stage, too, with the electric Anthony Gordon having seized on a terrible mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold to score the opening goal of the contest with a calm and composed finish through Allison's legs from 18 yards.

The winger was a real bright spark on a gutting afternoon for Eddie Howe, running at Alexander-Arnold throughout and being incredibly unlucky to be substituted for Harvey Barnes in the 72nd minute.

Only captain Kieran Trippier came anywhere close to matching the performance put in by the England U21 international, though, which meant that Newcastle ultimately came away empty-handed from a game they really should have won.

The defeat owed as much to Miguel Almirón's wayward finishing as anything else, with the Paraguayan passing up a golden opportunity to seal the points in the second half when firing over from close range after great work down the left by Joelinton.

The right-winger had forced a brilliant save out of Allison long before that, though, and almost scored a goal-of-the-season contender with a run that began well inside his own half and ended with him curling a left-footed strike off the foot of the post from 18 yards. It just wasn't his day.

Plenty of other decent chances came and went for the home side, too, who were ultimately undone by a combination of infuriating defensive errors and an inspired cameo from Darwin Núñez.

Sven Botman, who went off with a serious-looking ankle injury near the end of the game, was first to falter, failing to deal with a routine through-ball attempt from Diogo Jota and inadvertently knocking the ball into the path of Núñez after tying himself in knots. The Uruguayan forward burst into the right side of Nick Pope's penalty area and fired low across the goalkeeper to level the score in the 81st minute.

Worse was to come, though, as Bruno Guimarães again lost possession cheaply in the middle of the park to set Liverpool away on the counter. Mohamed Salah was the beneficiary of Harvey Elliott's interception and slotted through an inch-perfect pass for Núñez that left Dan Burn flat-footed. The striker made no mistake once again, firing across Pope into the same corner to seal the points for the visitors in the third minute of five added.

An already emptying St. James' Park was subject to mass desertion at that point, with shockingly few staying to applaud Howe and his charges on the now-customary lap of the pitch. There was no lack of effort from Newcastle here and we were the better side for much of the game, so that stuck in the craw somewhat. Too many people appear to have very short memories and enormous senses of entitlement.

To sum up: at the half-hour mark, we were in dreamland. By full-time, this game had turned into an absolute nightmare. Too many of the starters just didn't perform well enough and it would be no surprise at all to see Howe ringing the changes at the Amex next week.

Are there any highlights of the game?

If you're a glutton for punishment or a visiting Reds fan, here's Sky Sports' recap:

What were the player ratings?

Gordon was outstanding here in his best performance since signing from Everton in January. He ran Alexander-Arnold ragged, scored a great goal, and was the key man in the move that led to van Dijk's red card. He can count himself incredibly unlucky to have been substituted, though he was tiring at that stage.

Trippier did not deserve to be on the losing side, either. He was at his best here, with some of his touches out of the very top drawer. The only thing we can criticise him for is letting Schär take the free kick that van Dijk gave away when being sent off.

Our Swiss defender barely put a foot wrong otherwise, while Botman's great performance was undermined somewhat by his mistake for the equaliser. We do hope his injury isn't as serious as it looked, though, as he'll be a massive miss.

Burn and Bruno were each docked a mark for their role in Liverpool's winner, with Pope's inability to keep out either Núñez effort also counting against him. He usually comes up trumps in those moments, though the Uruguayan's finishes were of real quality.

Isak was strangely sluggish aside from the van Dijk incident, though Wilson was no better when he came on, while Joelinton was the pick of the midfielders. Tonali, like Bruno, was far too wasteful in possession at times, though both of them showed their undoubted class on a few occasions as well.

If Miggy had his shooting boots on he might have run Gordon close in the scoring, as pretty much every other part of his game was up to par.

Substitutes-wise, it wasn't just Wilson who struggled. Barnes was a noticeable downgrade on Gordon and wasted a massive chance to either shoot or set Wilson up at 1-0, while Sean Longstaff also failed in his key moments. Neither Elliot Anderson nor Matt Targett had enough time to impact proceedings.

Newcastle United (4-3-3): Pope 6; Trippier 9, Schär 8, Botman 7 (Targett 5), Burn 6; Tonali 6 (Longstaff 5), Guimarães 6, Joelinton 7 (Anderson 5); Almirón 6, Isak 5 (Wilson 5), Gordon 9 (Barnes 5).

What was Eddie Howe's reaction?

Our dejected head coach spoke to Dan King of NUFC TV in the immediate aftermath of the game, here are his full quotes:

"We didn't take our chances to make it 2-0. There were different moments in both halves. Alisson saves magnificently from Miggy (Almirón) just after we'd scored and moments like that can win and lose you matches. From their perspective, their goalkeeper has kept them in it. But we had chances in that second period to put the game to bed. We didn't take them and they've got the players going the other way who can hurt you in a flash, and unfortunately for us that happened.

I think naturally when you go to 10 (men) you go deeper, you limit space, and they were quite content with us having the ball in front of them. It's just a totally different challenge and one where we didn't complete the objective as well as we could have done from that moment. But you have to give them credit as there are two teams competing for the same outcome. I think they were waiting to try and stay in the game as long as they could, make substitutions, and the longer it's 1-0 they're always going to get one moment. From their perspective, they took that one moment. From ours, we had lots of moments to finish the game and we didn't take them.

I've seen an all-round improvement in every aspect of his (Gordon's) game, certainly his fitness. He's looked robust, strong, and committed and I thought his performance today was outstanding. His pace really stood out, you could see his speed and directness, so he can be really pleased with his performance.

At that stage of the game, we felt that was a red card, well a second yellow (for Alexander-Arnold for a foul on Gordon early on), but the referee didn't agree. The red card for van Dijk, I thought Alex(ander Isak) was going through one-on-one, so maybe it's the correct decision.

It looks like an ankle problem (for Sven Botman). I don't know how he's sustained it, or what the damage is, but it certainly looked like he was walking with aid from somebody. It doesn't look good, but hopefully it settles down quickly.

It's another opportunity for us (at Brighton). We knew the start of the season was going to be very difficult with the fixtures as they panned out. I think our performances generally, today was excellent, albeit we lost the game, for long spells of the game it was very good. Manchester City was a really close game and against Aston Villa we were excellent. I don't think we've been disappointing in terms of general performance but maybe we haven't got the points we deserve at this stage."

What did Anthony Gordon have to say?

The winger, who was genuinely superb in his 72 minutes on the pitch, also fronted up to speak to the official website:

"It's just really disappointing. The game started so well, we were in a really good place, and we couldn't get the second goal. And against the really top teams that's what you have to do.

We played really well and created the chances, but we weren't clinical enough. That's what's going to separate us from the top teams and that's where we really need to push and focus on improving because if we can do that, we can beat anyone.

I feel really good at the minute, in every way. Mentally, physically, emotionally, I just feel really good and really confident. I'm getting used to the system more and more, so I feel really good. I took my chance well and felt amazing, but it doesn't mean anything anymore.

It was just about staying calm (his goal). I've been working on it because there's been times when I've gone through on goal and because I try and play with intensity I've struggled to slow it down.

I expect a massive reaction (to the defeat), especially from this game because we're very disappointed. We feel like we should've won and we've got a lot to do because we need to start killing games off. We've been playing really well, the performances have been good but it's just about going to that next level now and putting teams away.

You've got to live in the moment. That game has gone now, we've got to take the lesson from it. It's going to hurt us for a while but we've got to move on. That's the beautiful thing about football, there's always another game. And we will put it right."

What's next for NUFC?

The Champions League group stage draw is at 5 p.m. BST on Thursday the 31st of August. We cannot wait for that.

Two days later, Newcastle are at the Amex Stadium for a very difficult Premier League game with Brighton. That one is a 5.30 m. BST kick-off and is again live on Sky Sports.

Howay the lads!

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