Football: Owen defines Gullit's task with hat-trick

Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 4

Newcastle United 1 Liverpool 4

JACKIE MILBURN'S statue was bewigged within hours of Ruud Gullit's appointment, but the Angel of the North remained undreadlocked when the Dutchman's second coming kicked off yesterday afternoon. Judging by what followed, its skull could be exposed to the elements for a while yet.

It took just 45 minutes for the rapturous reception accorded Gullit to be turned to boos for the team. In that time, memories had been revived of the downside of the cavalier Keegan days with a shocking defensive performance. Though things improved in the second half, Gullit having abandoned his seat in the stand to take over the team, it was still a crushing disappointment after the heady anticipation of the past few days.

"It was very interesting," said Gullit, who will at least no longer have to deal with inflated expectation. "The first half was not very good and I couldn't resist doing something about it. In the second half at least we created some chances. I saw some good things and we'll work on them. It will be a hard job."

Liverpool, who move top of the table, will not be unhappy that the after- match focus was on Newcastle's failings rather than their own qualities. This is because the attention would have fallen upon the remarkable Michael Owen, whose 15-minute first-half hat-trick punctured the Newcastle hype. The clinical nature of Owen's finishing augurs well for England's trip to Sweden this week as does the form of Paul Ince.

Patrik Berger scored Liverpool's fourth in first-half injury-time. Newcastle's only consolation was a debut goal for Stephane Guivarc'h that, for five first-half minutes, threatened to bring them back in the game. It proved a false dawn.

Gullit had not picked this team but the change of emphasis was clear in its attacking intent. Gary Speed was pushed up alongside Guivarc'h and Shearer while Carl Serrant was given a debut in midfield. With Phillippe Albert recalled, three of Kenny Dalglish's buys, Alessandro Pistone, Andreas Andersson and Nikos Dabizas, made way.

Newcastle, inevitably, had begun with plenty of attacking brio but could only muster a mis-hit shot by Speed. Then Dietmar Hamann went off injured and Liverpool took control. After 16 minutes Ince hit a piledriver from the edge of the area, Given parried it and, from an acute angle, Owen thumped a volley inside the near post.

A minute later Berger fed McManaman, who moved the ball on to Owen as he danced unnoticed through the black-and-white statues. He drew Given and slipped the ball between his legs. The home crowd fell silent. The sound of the joyous away support singing "sack the board" was greeted with nods of assent.

Liverpool relaxed and Phil Babb, short of passing options, was caught in possession by Rob Lee. He passed to Guivarc'h who proved, contrary to popular opinion, that he could put the ball in an empty net from eight yards. Mind, it only went in off the post.

Newcastle briefly revived but then Karlheinz Riedle caught Laurent Charvet dwelling on the ball, it ran to Owen and he was off, spearing the ball over Given. Owen, and Liverpool, could have had more but they settled for Berger's goal, after he had run through the defence. In the second period Newcastle reverted to 4-4-2 and at least stemmed the flow of goals, even if they never threatened a recovery.

All but one of Newcastle's support went home in shock. The other was already in hospital after his girlfriend went into labour. It is to be hoped this birth was less painful than that of his club's new era.

Goals: Owen (16) 0-1; Owen (17) 0-2; Guivarc'h (27) 1-2; Owen (32) 1- 3; Berger (45) 1-4.

Newcastle United (4-3-3): Given; Charvet, Pearce, Albert; Watson (Dabizas, 77), Lee, Hamann (Glass, 12), Serrant (Barton, h-t); Guivarc'h, Shearer, Speed. Substitutes not used: Perez (gk), Dalglish.

Liverpool (4-4-2): Friedel; Heggem, Carragher, Babb, Staunton; McManaman (Thompson, 88), Ince, Redknapp (McAteer, 86) Berger; Riedle, Owen. Substitutes not used: James (gk), Kvarme, Harkness.

Referee: G Barber (Surrey).

Bookings: Newcastle: Albert, Pearce. Liverpool: Babb, McManaman.

Man of the match: Owen.

Attendance: 36,740.

Photograph, page 21

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower