NEWCASTLE (REUTERS) – A first-half strike from midfielder Naby Keita helped Liverpool secure a hard-earned 1-0 win at Newcastle United on Saturday (April 30) as Jurgen Klopp’s side kept their Premier League title hopes alive and provisionally went top of the table.
The victory put Liverpool two points ahead of champions Manchester City, who can regain first spot with a win at Leeds United later on Saturday. Newcastle are ninth on 43 points.
Klopp said: “Coming with with five changes and building a new setup is massive. It was really difficult – our performance was outstanding, we controlled the game.
“We had some moments that were difficult but the rest we were in control.
“The impact we have from the bench in games is outstanding but now it is coming from the bench at the start of games.
“You cannot defend them probably as it’s always long balls. It’s difficult to get a feeling for game. I think we adapted well.
“Winning here is special.”
After an early half-chance for Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool hit the front in the 19th minute through Keita when he cleverly dribbled past Martin Dubravka to slot home following a smart link-up with Diogo Jota.
Liverpool, with possibly one eye on the second leg of their Champions League semi-final against Villarreal on Tuesday, started without Mohamed Salah, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold but their absence was seldom felt as the visitors were barely troubled in the opening exchanges.
With Liverpool dominating possession, Newcastle’s best moment of the half arrived when Miguel Almiron had the ball in the net after being played through by Bruno Guimaraes, only for the Paraguayan to be flagged offside.
Liverpool had a flurry of chances after the break but failed to beat Dubravka, who twice denied Jota as well as substitute Salah before Luis Diaz hit the side-netting in the 84th minute.
Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said: “I don’t think we quite got going after a bright start to the game. I am slightly disappointed about our overall performance.
“I thought the second half was better without getting a real chance.
“Slightly disappointing compared to our previous levels.”