Resilience. Control. Temperament. They were all elements Liverpool showed yesterday. They did not show much disappointment at failing to beat a Newcastle side which were a man short for most of the game, but then, as they left St James’ Park, they were, at that point, on top of the Premier League.
“We had to show character to come back twice,” said Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager. “We played very well, but it’s never easy against 10 men. I thought some of our play was outstanding.
“We thought we could get the three points but to come away with a point at St James’ Park is a good result. As the game went on, we got our fluency. You put your trust in your players and they have been brilliant for me.”
Newcastle played well with both 11 and 10 men, although there had been little suggestion of danger when Yohan Cabaye picked up the ball on the half-way line in the 23rd minute. Before Liverpool were aware of a problem, Cabaye had taken 20 yards, and from 30 yards out he produced a vicious, swerving shot. Mamadou Sakho appeared to duck as the shot flew by. Perhaps that obscured the view of Simon Mignolet, and seconds later he was picking the ball out of the right-hand corner of his goal.
Cabaye almost left Newcastle in the summer, which would have been a crushing loss. He tried to repeat the effort in the 36th minute, perhaps again from around 30 yards. This time the drive relied on a late dip, rather than raw power, and it cleared the angle of Mignolet’s crossbar.
Then came the 40th minute. Cheick Tioté had been nursing an injury in his own penalty area which was ignored by his team-mates. When the ball broke to Daniel Sturridge, he clipped a pass over the Newcastle defence to Suarez and, to the returning Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa’s horror, Tiote had played the Uruguayan striker onside. It seemed an instinctive reaction from the Newcastle defender, putting his left arm on to the shoulder of Suarez, who now was in the Newcastle penalty area, and had only Tim Krul to beat, but it was forceful enough to bring the player to the ground.
Andre Marriner did not hesitate in his decision, rightly sending Yanga-Mbiwa off for denying Liverpool a goalscoring opportunity. He was encouraged to speak to his assistant, which he did. He was told, correctly, that it was not off-side. Yanga-Mbiwa’s last display, against Everton, had ended when he was substituted with his side three-nil down after an awful first-half mauling. Yesterday did not feel much better as he sloped off, despite a much improved display.
With three minutes to half-time, Gerrard picked his favoured spot for penalties, the bottom left corner of the visiting goal, and equalised, his 100th Premier League goal. At that point it was hard to see a way back for Newcastle, despite a spirited first- half showing.
Instead, they regrouped. Pardew had brought on the local left-back Paul Dummett for Sissoko following the sending off. He had been forced to be an emergency central defender. In the 57th minute, Cabaye floated a free-kick into the Liverpool penalty area. Kolo Touré, under pressure from Mike Williamson, flicked the ball to the far post, where Dummett was lurking. He crashed his shot into the Liverpool goal. In doing so, he became the first non-French player to score for Newcastle this season.
For 15 minutes, Newcastle held on. Then in the 72nd minute, Suarez produced a moment of brilliance, flicking the ball out to Victor Moses, wide on the Liverpool left. He returned the pass, Suarez crossed into the Newcastle penalty area and Sturridge headed in an equaliser.
Liverpool went for victory. Suarez cracked a rising shot off the top of Krul’s crossbar. The goalkeeper parried a 90th-minute shot from the forward and in the seventh minute of injury time, the Dutch goalkeeper again excelled in his duel with Suarez, diving to his left to tip away a curling, 20 yard free-kick. “I thought our all-round game was good,” said Gerrard. “We did enough to win but credit to Newcastle. I thought they were very good with 11. I can still remember my first goal against Sheffield Wednesday. It’s nice to get goals, but I feel disappointed we haven’t taken three points.”
Pardew added: “We had some big displays today. I thought Chieck Tiote was as good as I’ve ever seen. I gave him the armband and he was brilliant. Loic was terrific and Cabaye hit a wonder goal. It moves to the right and the left and dips and goes to the right again. No goalkeeper can save it. He was superb as well.”
Newcastle (4-3-3): Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon; Cabaye (Anita, 78), Sissoko (Dummett 45), Tiote; Gouffran, Ben Arfa (S Ameobi, 78), Remy.
Liverpool (5-2-1-2): Mignolet; Johnson (Sterling, 83), Toure, Skrtel, Sakho (Alberto, 63), Cissokho; Gerrard, Henderson; Moses; Suarez, Sturridge.
Referee: Andre Marriner.
Man of the match: Cabaye (Newcastle)
Match rating: 7/10
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