Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp challenged his players to use back-to-back Premier League victories over Everton and Newcastle as a springboard to drag themselves up the table.
Saturday evening’s eventful 2-0 win at St James’ Park, which came five days after their derby success by the same scoreline, eased the Reds to within six points of the fourth-placed Magpies with a game in hand.
Significantly, it was achieved courtesy of a second successive clean sheet – something they have not done in the league since October – much to Klopp’s delight.
He said: “Massive, 100 per cent. It explains a little bit the issues we have in the games where we can’t control it better. It’s so long ago we were in a situation like that.
“It’s unfortunate that football is not like cycling, always exactly on the same level. It’s different. The only way you can get back on track is by winning.
“We’ve now done it twice in a row and that feels absolutely incredible.”
Liverpool twice breached a Newcastle defence, which has won rave reviews this season, inside the opening 17 minutes. Darwin Nunez made the most of Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s superb ball over the top before Cody Gakpo repeated the feat with the assistance of Mohamed Salah.
The Magpies’ woes deepened significantly with 22 minutes gone when goalkeeper Nick Pope handled outside his area as he attempted to prevent Salah from reaching Alisson Becker’s clearance and was sent off, and although the Brazilian had to tip a searing Allan Saint-Maximin shot on to his crossbar, which was thumped by a Dan Burn header minutes later, the points were safe.
Klopp said: “We didn’t score [a third] and that keeps the game exciting and Newcastle, all credit to them, they put a proper shift in, they really wanted to go for it, they fought really hard.
“That’s why it was exciting until the end, but we got the three points and we are very happy about that.”
The only fly in the ointment for the visitors was the shoulder injury Nunez suffered in a second-half tangle with Kieran Trippier.
Klopp said: “The bad news, Darwin has something on his shoulder. We will see.
“We need further assessment. I don’t know in the moment. In the moment it is painful, but hopefully it’s just painful and not more.”