Newcastle United got a lesson in football this afternoon, as a magnificent Liverpool side, although missing their in-form striker Robbie Keane and Spanish striker Fernando Torres (thank goodness), were just too classy for a plucky but very ordinary looking Newcastle side.
The Newcastle side started off well, but then the first 30 minutes was a succession of superb saves from Newcastle’s brilliant Irish goalkeeper Shay Given.
It seemed it was Liverpool vs Shay Given, and at least in the first half hour Shay was up to absolutely everything Liverpool could throw at the Irish international goalkeeper, who looked like he was performing like a Superman.
Liverpool had 5 good chances in the first 30 minutes, and they were all brilliantly saved by the Irishman.
If Shay isn’t the best goalkeeper around, we’re not too sure who is better.
But then Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard made the breakthrough with a shot that went in off a post, after missing a couple of earlier chances.
Then on 36 minutes from a corner, 35 year-old Finnish International Sami Hyypia, who still more than a decent center-back, headed powerfully past Given to give some semblance of fairness to the score.
But then right before half time Newcastle scored through young David Edgar who headed powerfully home from a corner, and Newcastle seemed to be right back in it, when the half time whistle blew, after being utterly outclassed in the first half.
But a fair score at half time could well have been 4 or 5 goals to one for Liverpool, so dominant had the Reds been, and it was only because of the absolute brilliance of Shay Given in the Newcastle goal that we were not dead and buried by half time.
In the second half Enrique, who was injured in the first half again, was replaced by Charles N’Zogbia at left back, and Ameobi came on up front to give the front line some physical presence.
The next goal was always going to be important, but it was a sloppy goal to give away. Newcastle failed to clear their lines from a corner, and Babel poked the ball hone, when any one of 3 Newcastle defenders should have kicked the ball clear, with the ball one year from the goal line.
Geremi came on for Butt shortly into the second half, and Nicky could do little in midfield this afternoon, up against the talented Liverpool players.
Geremi had a free kick after 60 minutes that rattled the cross bar before going over – a great effort from the Cameroon International.
But Liverpool were an in-form side this afternoon and Newcastle just couldn’t hold the Reds as Steven Gerrard got clean through and chipped the ball beautifully over an exposed Shay Given to make it 4-1.
Then the inexperience of David Edgar, who had a decent game at the back for the Magpies, shone through as he clumsily brought down Liverpool substitute David Ngog.
Alonso made it 5-1 from the penalty spot, and we were now hoping Liverpool would be satisfied with five this afternoon, and then just before the final whistle, there was still time for the mercurial Shay Given to make another great save.
This time it was from Brazilian Lucas Leiva, who had a free header from just 3 yards out and should have scored, and but Given blaocked his shot.
We were second best this afternoon and the Newcastle crowd were sensible enough to remain quiet at the end as the lads tried their best, they were just not good enough against a Liverpool side who seem to be at the top of their form.
But it does show we have a long way to go to challenge the top teams, and perhaps five good players in January will help us improve the squad, but we must get some central midfielders into the club.
But it’s not the Liverpools or Chelseas we will be beating this season, and it’s the Wigans and Stokes that we have to ensure we all get all 3 points from.
This was a sobering game for the Magpies, as Liverpool looked to be streaks ahead of us in everything they did.
In retrospect this was probably a fitting end to a terrible year for the club, and the faithful Newcastle fans.
And just when we thought we may have a decent defense, we’ve conceded 7 goals in our last two games over the festive period, so there is still much work to do in that area by Joe Kinnear.
And you can hardly wonder what Michael Owen is thinking now, when his former team are so much better than Newcastle. No wonder he’s uncertain about his future on Tyneside.
But we have to hope that things can only get better from this point on, and if we ever thought we had a decent team, we can think again, but at least now we can make sure we get some good players in during next month.
Keep the Faith – there’s not much more we can do at this point.
Newcastle United: Shay Given, David Edgar, Jose Enrique, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Nicky Butt, Danny Guthrie, Jonas Gutierrez, Charles N’Zogbia, Damien Duff, Michael Owen (c)
Subs: Steve Harper, Geremi, Xisco, Shola Ameobi, Tamas Kadar, Andy Carroll, Kazenga LuaLua
Liverpool: Jose Reina, Sami Hyypia, Daniel Agger, Steven Gerrard (c), Yossi Benayoun, Dirk Kuyt, Ryan Babel, Javier Mascherano, Lucas Leiva, Emiliano Insua, Jamie Carragher
Subs: Diego Cavalieri, Robbie Keane, Albert Riera, Xabi Alonso, David Ngog, Nabil El Zhar, Martin Skrtel
Referee: Mark Halsey