Raheem Sterling’s superb solo strike helps topple toothless Toon
Liverpool got their top four challenge back on track after securing a comfortable 2-0 triumph over Newcastle United at Anfield, as contract rebel Rahem Sterling helped earn a vital three points with a menacing moment of individual brilliance.
Welsh midfielder Joe Allen then followed up Sterling’s sublime solo effort in the first half with a killer blow to the Magpies’ hopes, slotting home decisively and sparing any blushes for his young teammate, who had incredibly missed from close range moments before the goal.
Anfield’s star attacker Sterling laughed off recent contract criticism and overcame fresh off-the-field issues to delightfully dispatch his side’s opener. This sent the Reds on their way towards securing a coveted Champions League position, with Liverpool now 9/2 chances with Coral finish in the top four this season.
With former Swansea City midfielder Allen sealing a simple win on the road, Brendan Rodgers’ men have now recovered from their recent domestic decline and capitalised on Manchester City’s downfall, pegging the gap on the reigning champions back to just four points.
John Carver’s faltering Toon outfit struggled to really make Liverpool stopper Simon Mignolet work, as the Belgian eventually recorded his 13th Premier League clean sheet of the season, the joint-highest in the top tier along with Southampton’s injured Fraser Forster.
Argentine attacker Jonas Gutierrez continued his courageous comeback from illness to make his 200th appearance for the Magpies, as the returning wideman received a rapturous welcome from both sets of supporters on the red half of Merseyside.
Newcastle showed little threat in attack, but they were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty for Dejan Lovren’s challenge on Ayoze Perez, a clumsy tackle from the stuttering defender which could have derailed his side’s chances of winning. However, their night was then calamitously capped off when midfielder Moussa Sissoko was given his marching orders for a second yellow card, after a horrific tackle on Lucas Leiva.
Despite his recent heroics, 20-year-old Sterling has been making the front page of the tabloids, as well as the back, with his controversial exploits off the pitch. The sought-after Anfield starlet was pictured consuming laughing gas at his home, an incident which Reds boss Rodgers has said he will formerly deal with.
This latest personnel issue comes weeks after the England international turned down a reported £100k-a-week deal at Anfield, leading to heated speculation surrounding his long-term future at the club.
Northern Irish boss Rodgers will be keen to build on his team’s recent dominant showing and push on for a place in Europe’s elite club competition next term, which would instantly give the Reds a better chance of securing the services of in-form forward Sterling.
The Reds are also involved in the hunt for an FA Cup triumph and are available at 13/8 to lift their eighth cup title in Wembley this year.