Newcastle United held Liverpool to a goalless Premier League draw at St James’ Park to ease the pressure on boss Steve Bruce.
Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah missed two key opportunities either side of half-time while United’s Fabian Schar denied Sadio Mane a tap-in with a timely clearance off the goalline in the 80th minute.
Roberto Firmino also went close midway through the second period, failing to hit the target after Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow was stranded following a corner.
And the Brazil forward then saw his 88th-minute header superbly denied by Darlow as the hosts held on to a well-earned point.
Points and a performance from Newcastle
Newcastle boss Bruce came into this fixture under pressure, with his side’s style of play being heavily criticised in recent weeks.
The Magpies’ December had included just one win and a defeat in the Carabao Cup to Championship side Brentford.
And as expected they sat back and defended in numbers, having only 27% of possession in the opening 45 minutes.
But they did have chances, Callum Wilson – who returned to the starting line-up – forced Liverpool keeper Alisson into a fine save from a tight angle after 11 minutes.
And Ciaran Clark was also denied by the goalkeeper, Alisson flying to his left to keep out the defender’s header after 79 minutes.
Newcastle’s point owed a lot to 30-year-old Darlow, whose string of second-half saves kept the league-leaders at bay.
The draw takes Bruce’s side to 14th, four points from the top half, but more importantly, eight points off the bottom three.
Reds still stuttering on the road
No matter the result, Liverpool were always going to finish 2020 as they started it – at the top of the Premier League table.
But a draw away to Newcastle feels like an opportunity missed.
The champions remain firm favourites to collect back-to-back titles for the first time in their history since 1985, but their away form is a recurring issue.
Liverpool have tasted victory in seven of their eight home league games this season, on the road they’ve won just two in six.
And although the Reds’ injury list, particularly in defence, is well-reported – it was their attacking trio of Mane, Salah and Firmino who looked out of sorts in the North East.
All three regularly found themselves in good positions but failed to find the breakthrough. Liverpool had 11 shots in total, but only four were on target.
It means Jurgen Klopp’s side stretch their lead at the top to three points having played a game more than second place Manchester United. Liverpool face Southampton on Monday, while Newcastle’s next fixture is away to Leicester on Sunday.
- 2ClarkBooked at 12mins
- 11RitchieSubstituted forLewisat 86′minutes
- 23MurphySubstituted forAlmirónat 67′minutes
- 14HaydenBooked at 85mins
- 4M Longstaff
- 13C Wilson
- 36S Longstaff
- 47PhillipsBooked at 78mins
- 3FabinhoBooked at 49mins
- 17JonesSubstituted forWijnaldumat 68′minutes
- 7MilnerBooked at 65minsSubstituted forThiago Alcántaraat 73′minutes
- 11SalahSubstituted forShaqiriat 90+2′minutes
- 6Thiago Alcántara
- 46R Williams
- 76N Williams
Match ends, Newcastle United 0, Liverpool 0.
Second Half ends, Newcastle United 0, Liverpool 0.
Substitution, Liverpool. Xherdan Shaqiri replaces Mohamed Salah.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Foul by Mohamed Salah (Liverpool).
Matthew Longstaff (Newcastle United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt saved. Roberto Firmino (Liverpool) header from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner. Assisted by Andrew Robertson with a cross.
Corner, Liverpool. Conceded by Fabian Schär.
Attempt blocked. Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Georginio Wijnaldum.
Substitution, Newcastle United. Jamal Lewis replaces Matt Ritchie.
Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Thiago (Liverpool) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Foul by Isaac Hayden (Newcastle United).
Offside, Liverpool. Thiago tries a through ball, but Trent Alexander-Arnold is caught offside.
Attempt blocked. Joelinton (Newcastle United) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Corner, Newcastle United. Conceded by Alisson.
Attempt saved. Ciaran Clark (Newcastle United) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Matt Ritchie with a cross.
Nathaniel Phillips (Liverpool) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Nathaniel Phillips (Liverpool).
Joelinton (Newcastle United) wins a free kick on the right wing.