NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (R) looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool: Thiago returns but Reds left frustrated again

Liverpool suffered their second frustrating draw in four days as Newcastle held them to a 0-0 stalemate at St James’ Park, on the final Premier League game of 2020.

Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool

Premier League (16), St James’ Park
December 30, 2020

After the shock of a draw with West Brom last time out, the Reds were certainly reserved in the early stages at St James’ Park, and it could be argued that Newcastle had the better of the chances.

Callum Wilson forced a backtracking Alisson into a save soon after kickoff, before burning the incoming Nat Phillips for pace and drawing a block from Fabinho as he bore in on goal.

Liverpool grew into the game, and their quality began to show, with the influential Roberto Firmino at the heart of all things good, dropping deep to link play and leading the line with equal success.

It was only the reflexes of Newcastle ‘keeper Karl Darlow that kept the scores level going into the break, with the in-form Englishman first denying Mohamed Salah in a one-on-one, though the No. 11 arguably should have done better in the box.

Darlow then denied Firmino with a bullet header in the middle of the area, leaving Steve Bruce the more content of the managers at half-time.

HT: Newcastle 0-0 Liverpool

NEWCASTLE-UPON-TYNE, ENGLAND - Wednesday, December 30, 2020: Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara prepares to come on as a substitute during the FA Premier League match between Newcastle United FC and Liverpool FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Firmino sparkles in tight affair as Salah squanders two big chances
  • Thiago makes first appearance since Oct 17; third outing for Liverpool
  • Darlow stands out for Newcastle with string of vital saves
  • Liverpool drop two more points but stay top moving into 2021
  • Four draws in last eight Premier League games

Little changed after the break, with Liverpool still dominant in possession but struggling to craft chances, while at the other end Alisson was required to do the basics as Newcastle produced more than perhaps expected before kickoff.

Firmino remained bright and should have laid on the opener with a perfect through ball for Salah just after the hour mark, but the Egyptian contrived to bend his finish beyond the post.

Thiago entered the field as Jurgen Klopp‘s second change of the night, with the Spaniard making his first appearance in two-and-a-half months and his third since joining the Reds on a welcome return from a long-term knee injury.

The intensity picked up almost immediately, and a superb recovery from Fabian Schar was all that kept Sadio Mane from scoring a tap-in after Darlow was beaten, with Thiago‘s raking pass out to Trent Alexander-Arnold kicking off the move.

A wasteful cross from Gini Wijnaldum and another big save from Darlow bookended a frustrating night for Liverpool, who end the year three points clear at the top, but having dropped four in the space of four days.

TIA Man of the Match: Roberto Firmino

Referee: Paul Tierney

Newcastle: Darlow; Schar, Fernandez, Clark; Yedlin, Hayden, M.Longstaff, Ritchie (Lewis 85′); Joelinton, Murphy (Almiron 65′), Wilson

Subs not used: Dubravka, Krafth, Hendrick, S.Longstaff, Shelvey, Gayle, Carroll

Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Fabinho, Robertson; Henderson, Milner (Thiago 73′), Jones (Wijnaldum 67′); Salah (Shaqiri 90+2′), Mane, Firmino

Subs not used: Kelleher, R.Williams, N.Williams, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Minamino, Origi

Next Match: Southampton (A) – Premier League – Monday, January 4, 8pm (GMT)