Liverpool - Liverpool
showed the form of champions as they increased their lead at the top of
the Premier League to six points by hammering an abject Newcastle
United 4-0 at Anfield.
Goals from Dejan Lovren, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho
did the damage as Liverpool's chances of a first English top-flight
title since the 1989-90 season were boosted by Manchester City's 2-1
defeat at Leicester.
Tottenham are now Liverpool's closest challengers with City dropping seven points off the pace in third.
Even with Liverpool visiting the Etihad on January 3, their form as
they extended an unbeaten home run in the Premier League that stretches
back to April 2017 is beginning to make that lead in the standings look
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez - an Anfield idol himself after
delivering the Champions League trophy in 2005 - has claimed that
Newcastle surviving relegation this term would be "a miracle".
And the gulf in quality on Wednesday was brutally apparent from the start.
Klopp made three changes to his starting XI whereas Benitez made an
eye-catching six from Newcastle's previous result - a goalless draw
against Fulham that featured zero shots on target.
Yet if Benitez was banking on the new personnel to deliver a more clinical edge, he was to be disappointed.
Joselu missed a glorious opportunity after eight minutes, heading
wide of Alisson Becker's goal following a wonderful cross from Matt
Liverpool punished Newcastle's lack of ruthlessness as three minutes later.
A deep ball into the area was woefully dealt with by Newcastle
skipper Jamaal Lascelles who headed it back into Lovren's path and the
Croatian defender fired an unstoppable shot past Martin Dubravka.
Liverpool remained the dominant side as Sadio Mane, Shaqiri and
Roberto Firmino ran through on goal at will. The pace with which
Liverpool raced forward represented an increasingly ominous challenge
Yet it is to the visitors' credit that they kept the scoreline to a single goal as the game flattened out towards half-time.
The closest Liverpool came to extending their lead arrived after 44
minutes when Dubravka did wonderfully well to tip over a rasping Shaqiri
Not long after the interval Liverpool found a second as Salah doubled
the lead from the penalty spot after Paul Dummett clumsily grabbed the
Salah's 12th Premier League goal of the season took him briefly level
with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as Harry Kane in the race for
the golden boot.
He may be frustrated at not cashing in more as Newcastle tired and chances flowed for the hosts.
Instead, it was Shaqiri who was next on the scoresheet, turning home Trent Alexander-Arnold's cross.
Newcastle were dead and buried but their afternoon then got worse in
the closing stages as Fabinho was given acres of space at a corner and
nodded in from close range for his first Liverpool goal.