Sunday, May 3, 2009

Newcastle's dark walk towards relegation

Newcastle's dark walk towards relegation was furthered with a 3-0 beating from Liverpool that if anything was a flattering scoreline to the Magpies. While few expected maximal points at Anfield, given that the Magpies Premier League life is on life-support, a more inspired effort was expected. The result leaves Magpies three points below Hull City in their fight for safety with remaining matches against Middlesbrough, Fullham and Aston Villa.

With Michael Owen out of the lineup, the Geordies were under siege quickly in the day as Liverpool came forward with confidence. After a number of opportunities fell short, poor clearances by both Mark Viduka and Alan Smith allowed Liverpool to maintain position in the final third, resulting in Yossi Benayoun redirected Dirk Kuyt's powerful low cross from the bye-line from a few metres out. Whilst an Offside call may have been warranted the goal was forthcoming and only six minutes later it was doubled as Dirk Kuyt was completely unmarked as he surged into the box to head in Steven Gerrard's corner from the left. The match wandered-on, nary a positive note to make in Newcastle's favour and somehow Liverpool avoiding bringing the match to cricket scoreline. With twelve minutes remaining Joey Barton excluded himself the balance of the campaign as he was the recipient of a straight red-card from Philip Dowd on his rash challenge of Xabi Alonso. Stretchered off after Barton's studs first lunge, the Spanish international's replacement, Lucas, made it 3-0 with three minutes remaining as he strolled into the box completely unmarked to nod in Álvaro Arbeloa's free-kick.