Newcastle vs Liverpool match report: Ayoze Perez continues the Alan Pardew resurrection as Magpies deliver haunting loss for Reds

Newcastle 1 Liverpool 0: Perez scored midway through the second half as Liverpool put in a dismal performance to suffer another defeat

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The Grim Reaper was laughing. In the crazy world of Newcastle United, not much makes sense. There were actually two of them, holding a board that declared Alan Pardew had come back from the dead.

They had a point. At full-time, St James’ Park was unrecognisable from earlier this season, when a fractured stadium saw pockets of fans hold placards. On Saturday It was about gallows humour at Gallowgate. Newcastle, like Pardew, are back from the dead after a display that capped off a quite remarkable week, even by their standards.

At half-time at White Hart Lane last Sunday, the walls were caving in. The team trailed to Tottenham, but the manner was causing as much consternation. Since then, in the space of seven days, a football resurrection has followed. Newcastle dragged themselves out of the mire at Spurs to win. They produced a stunning victory at Manchester City in the Capital One Cup on Wednesday and yesterday, against Liverpool, a team on their knees earlier this season were winning key battles all over the St James’ Park turf.

Even the loss of Gabriel Obertan to a thigh injury could not detract from the vitality of their performance. The young winger Rolando Aarons came on in his place. He outshone Raheem Sterling, but then the paucity of service to the England winger constricted him to a bit part. That was the lot of many of his team-mates. Steven Gerrard was peripheral, Jordan Henderson looked on the fringe of the game in a wide position and only Martin Skrtel rose to the challenge of resurgent Newcastle.

The defender could have put his side ahead towards the end of the first half but he powered a header from a Gerrard corner wide of the near post. It would have been harsh on the home side, who had seen Glenn Johnson clear a Papiss Cissé effort from the Liverpool goal line.

Mario Balotelli reacts to the defeat to Newcastle

Newcastle found life after the interval and raised a storm in the closing stages. In the 74th minute Moussa Sissoko charged through, and following a mistake by Alberto Moreno, Ayoze Perez, the young Spanish forward, crashed home what proved to be the winning goal, as he had at Tottenham.

Three minutes later he broke through with Remy Cabella. Newcastle were two on one and the crowd roared for a second. Only the feet of Simon Mignolet prevented a goal. The French forward curled a shot over the crossbar soon after. The lead was more likely to be extended than lost.

The energy of those two players, like that of Jack Colback and Mehdi Abeid, sat in stark contrast to that of Mario Balotteli. The Italian cannot be afforded many more chances after such an insipid display. There was no figurehead for Brendan Rodgers. The striker is such chalk to the cheese of Luis Suarez’s relentless energy. Liverpool are a different and far weaker proposition for it.

Ayoze Perez scores for Newcastle against Liverpool

Victory moved Newcastle into the top half of the Premier League table. It was where they finished last season but their form fell off a cliff once they sold Yohan Cabaye in January. It has been a grim 2014, but perhaps, something better is emerging.

Rodgers, by contrast, must raise his players for their visit to Real Madrid on Tuesday. “Good or bad, we can’t complain, we have worked very hard for a couple of years to get to this level,” he said. “Playing against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu says we’ve been doing okay.

“There is pressure in every game at Liverpool, not just Tuesday. There is always that expectation, it’s there every time we play. We understand that and accept it. It is part of being involved as players, coaches, manager at Liverpool. When you’re a team that can scores goals then it gives the team confidence.

Mario Balotelli rolls in pain after a hard tackle from Moussa Sissoko

“We’re finding the goals a little bit harder to come by. The players are working tirelessly on the training field but, whereas last season we scored a lot of early goals, we haven’t been able to do that this season.”

Newcastle: (4-2-3-1): Krul; Janmaat, Taylor, Coloccini, Dummett; Colback, Abeid; Obertan (Aarons, 27), Sissoko, Ameobi (Cabella, 66); Cissé (Perez, 46).

Liverpool: (4-2-3-1): Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Monero; Gerrard, Allen (Borini, 66); Sterling, Coutinho (Lambert, 80), Henderson; Balotelli.

Referee: Andre Marriner

Man of the match: Mehdi Abeid (Newcastle)

Match rating: 6/10