Following Liverpool’s 2-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday night, we round-up the best reaction from the morning newspapers.
It was a strange 90 minutes of football in many ways. Liverpool could easily have annihilated the Magpies, but they could also have dropped two careless points if things had panned out differently.
Raheem Sterling’s terrific strike looked like it had set the Reds on their way to an easy victory against a Newcastle side with half an eye on their summer holidays, but the visitors dominated for a period after half-time.
NEW: Coutinho special, defending atrocious – Liverpool fans react to 2-0 victory over Newcastle http://t.co/zP9QO0IMu2 #LFC
— This Is Anfield (@thisisanfield) April 13, 2015
Joe Allen’s 70th-minute goal effectively ended the game as a contest though, and Moussa Sissoko’s late red card compounded John Carver’s side’s misery.
James Pearce of the Liverpool Echo was full of praise for Sterling, but didn’t have kind words to say about the 20-year-old’s representatives:
Raheem Sterling delivered the only legal high Kopites are interested in as Liverpool breathed new life into their bid for Champions League qualification.
Forget your shisha pipes and your laughing gas, supporters have been crying out for goals and the youngster provided one of true quality to ensure Brendan Rodgers’ side will go into Sunday’s Wembley showdown with Aston Villa in buoyant mood.
Controversy continues to dog Sterling in the wake of his ill-advised interview about his future. Skeletons are being tossed from his closet to cause maximum embarrassment. He has some big lessons to learn, including the kind of people he associates himself with.
But this was a night which proved to him that Anfield can still provide some solace. The standing ovation he received when he was substituted late on when recognition for another eye-catching shift.
That was Thierry Henry-esque. Not bad in the final third is he that Raheem Sterling.
— Sam McGuire (@SamMcGuire90) April 13, 2015
The Echo‘s Andy Kelly lauded the brilliance of Philippe Coutinho, who produced a majestic display in a new ‘false nine’ role:
Fresh from the little matter of securing Liverpool’s place at Wembley, Philippe Coutinho enjoyed one of those, well, Philippe Coutinho nights.
All Brazilian control, flicks, back heels. That partnership with Sterling which so flourished in January back in style. He even had Brendan Rodgers breaking out in smiles in a first half performance that was nothing short of a delight.
The fact it was his first start in a Liverpool shirt in a central striking role seemed almost irrelevant. He just plays the game.
Kelly didn’t have many good things to say about Liverpool’s defence, however…….
Even against a team as lacking in quality and fight as Newcastle, Liverpool’s defending looked at times all a little keystone cops.
Glen Johnson, after a decent show against Blackburn, reminded us all why he’s heading for the exit door at the end of the season.
Dejan Lovren was virtually schizophrenic in his performance, some excellent balls in the first half sending both Moreno and Coutinho free before he induced virtual heart failure with a sloppy leg almost gifting Newcastle an unlikely equaliser.
Jesus, Lovren. That's the last time I say you're playing well.
— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) April 13, 2015
Ed Malyon of the Mirror echoed that sentiment, and remains unconvinced by the Reds’ shaky back-line:
At times during this game it appeared that the two defences were having a wobble-off.
Emre Can isn’t a centre-back, and although he’s adapted to a three, playing in a flat-back four is a very different skill, a skill he clearly hasn’t learnt yet if you’re going on tonight’s performance.
Liverpool’s failure to put the game to bed meant every time the ball approached Lovren (last week deemed fifth-choice central defender at the club) and Can (a midfielder) there was a sharp inhalation of breath around Anfield that threatened to turn from trepidation to a self-fulfilling worry.
The defence wasn’t fixed after costing Rodgers the title last season, will it be next time round? Anfield won’t be holding that collective breath still, I don’t think.
Finally, the Daily Telegraph‘s Chris Bascombe believes that, although unlikely, Liverpool are not out of the top-four hunt just yet:
Whether Sterling’s contribution will be enough to salvage a Champions League spot is matter of debate but this victory, which Joe Allen’s goal sealed in the second half, means Manchester City will not feel secure about holding on to fourth place.
When Rodgers’ side left the Emirates with their heads bowed last weekend, they would have imagined heading into this fixture at least 10 points behind the soon-to-be deposed champions.
That the gap is now back to four says more about Manuel Pellegrini’s powers of demotivation than a potential full-scale red revival, but Liverpool know they have a chance.
Next up for Liverpool is Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Aston Villa at Wembley (3pm kick-off GMT). Can the Reds make it to the final for the first time since 2012?