Liverpool reignited their hopes of a Premier League top-four finish as they beat 10-man Newcastle United 2-0 at St James’ Park.
The Reds took an early lead through well-worked goals from Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo before Nick Pope was sent off for handling outside his box in desperately attempting to prevent a third.
And, though the hosts made light of their numerical disadvantage in constantly threatening — most notably when Dan Burn struck the bar — Jurgen Klopp’s men held on to inflict the Magpies’ first league defeat since the two sides met at Anfield in August.
Liverpool now sit six points behind fourth-placed Newcastle with a game in hand and the prospect of a late charge into fourth looking far likelier than it did just two weeks ago.
As for the Magpies, they must quickly refocus on a League Cup final meeting with Manchester United next weekend, which Pope will now miss through suspension.
It has been fairly obvious since August that, having neglected their midfield for successive transfer windows, Liverpool are unlikely to be able to control games consistently this season.
But football is all about masking your flaws and, judging by this outing, the Reds are certainly better placed to do that for the remaining games.
The returns of Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino, Darwin Nunez’s improving consistency, and Cody Gakpo’s growing confidence means Klopp’s men now look far more likely to outscore their opponents.
They may not have strangled the life out of Newcastle in this one, but they threatened constantly and took their chances — and that bodes incredibly well for the top-four race.