Michael Williamson

Liverpool 2-0 Newcastle United: Sterling’s stunner boosts Liverpool’s top-four chase

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There might just be a way into the Premier League’s top-four places for Liverpool after all, as Manchester City’s freefall continues and the Reds find themselves back on track, thanks to a 2-0 home victory over Newcastle United on Monday.

Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen provided the goals for Brendan Rodgers’ side, as Liverpool once again passed Southampton for fifth in the league standings, just four points behind Man City for the final UEFA Champions League place.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays ]

Speaking of Sterling, perhaps it’s time for the Liverpool board to take out their checkbook, sign a blank check, hand it to Sterling and tell him, “You fill in the number, just don’t leave us.” The 20-year-old answered his most recent critics when he opened the scoring with a stunning goal (9th minute) after blowing by a pair of Newcastle defenders and beating Tim Krul with a curling effort to the far post.

Liverpool were inches from doubling their lead in the 36th minute as Lucas Leiva’s header of Jordan Henderson’s free kick was destined to find the back of the net at the near post, if not for Krul’s sprawling effort to get a hand on the ball. Lucas was ruled to have been offside on the play, but replays showed he was very much level with the last Newcastle defender.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Ayoze Perez nearly equalized for the visitors with barely a minute remaining in the first half, but Simon Mignolet’s diving save kept out Perez’s looping header to the Belgian ‘keeper’s right-hand post.

Sterling, however, might want to have a second thought about the dollar figure he scribbles on the aforementioned blank check, as his 57th-minute miss was perhaps the Miss of the Season in the Premier League. Henderson broke down the right wing, whipped the ball into the center of the penalty area, where Ryan Taylor’s clearance was a poor mishit. The ball then fell to Sterling at the far post with only Krul and a half-empty net in front of him. Instead of slotting the ball under the Dutch ‘keeper, Sterling went for the near post finish and pulled his shot agonizingly wide from six yards.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

As the game wore on, Liverpool continued to let Newcastle hang around, only a goal down. In the 70th minute, Liverpool put the game to bed when Joe Allen bagged his first league goal of the season, doubling the lead to 2-0. Emre Can’s floated cross evaded Allen on the first try, but took a Liverpool bounce off the thigh of Michael Williamson and landed at the feet of Allen, whose snap-shot found the top corner.

Moussa Sissoko saw yellow twice in the span of five minutes (78th and 83rd), the second of which could have easily been a straight red for putting his studs into the shin of Lucas, only compounding Newcastle’s joyless night at Anfield.

The Reds’ chase for the top-four goes on a week’s hiatus, as Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal against Aston Villa looms large, while Newcastle, who are creeping ever closer to the relegation zone, host a struggling Tottenham Hotspur side at St James’ Park next week.

LINEUPS

Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Can, Lovren, Moreno, Allen, Lucas, Henderson, Ibe (Borini 58′), Coutinho, Sterling (Lambert 88′)

Goals: Sterling (9′), Allen (70′)

Newcastle United: Krul, Taylor, Janmaat, Williamson, Colback, Anita, Abeid (Armstrong 75′), Sissoko, Cabella, Obertan (Gutierrez 67′), Perez (Gouffran 86′)

Everton 3-2 Newcastle: Romelu Lukaku runs rampant over Magpies (video)

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On his home debut, Lukaku had a lively start. In the first couple minutes, he was caught offside on a ball he finished. In the fifth minute, he held his run and scored an early opener.

Kevin Mirallas bolted down the right flank and cut back a ball inside the penalty area that Lukaku side-footed home with ease. It was Lukaku’s fifth goal in his last five Premier League games.

Everton’s free-flowing possession style showed well in the first half, contrasting with Newcastle’s inability to keep the ball in the back. While the Magpies struggled to string passes together, the Toffees completed 215 of 251 attempted passes in the first half.

After scoring the opener, Lukaku created a second in the 25th minute. He dribbled across the face of Newcastle’s central defense to open up a gap, which Ross Barkley exploited with an incisive run. Lukaku slipped him in, and local boy Barkley finished coolly.

Lukaku’s second came much more directly.

In the 37th minute, goalkeeper Tim Howard launched a clearance from his feet into Lukaku’s path, and center back Fabricio Coloccini and goalkeeper Tim Krul both misjudged it, allowing Lukaku to waltz the ball into the goal. Howard claimed the assist, matching fellow American international Brad Guzan’s against Manchester City on Saturday.

Newcastle’s best opportunity of the half came in stoppage time, when Hatem Ben Arfa hit a shot from outside the penalty area that forced Howard into a diving save, down to his left. Ben Arfa was part of a starting lineup for Newcastle that included 11 foreigners.

However, as good as Everton was in the first half, Newcastle nearly matched it in the second.

The visitors jumped out of the blocks quickly in the second half, as Yoan Gouffran hit the post. In the 51st minute, halftime substitute Yohan Cabaye pulled one back for the Magpies.

He received a pass from Gouffran outside the penalty area on the left side and turned to face goal. With no pressure, he lifted a shot over Howard that dipped under the crossbar and inside the far post.

In the 80th minute, Everton midfielder Gareth Barry picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Cheik Tioté. Barry played his 500th Premier League game on Monday, making him the 10th player to that mark and the fourth active player, behind Ryan Giggs, Frank Lampark and Mark Schwarzer.

Newcastle midfielder Loïc Rémy capped the scoring one minute from time, tussling with Phil Jagielka and winning a ball inside Everton’s penalty area. He bumbled the ball beyond Howard, and he went just over the bar in stoppage time to nearly complete the improbable comeback, but it was not to be.

Everton (3-3-0, 12 points, fourth place) is on short rest this week, playing the very next Premier League fixture, early on Saturday at Manchester City. Newcastle (2-1-3, 7 points, 16th place) barely gets more of a break, taking on Cardiff City at 10 a.m. ET on the same day in Wales.

Lineups

Everton (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard — Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman — Gareth Barry, James McCarthy — Leon Osman (John Stones, 90+1), Ross Barkley (Steven Naismith, 87), Kevin Mirallas (Gerard Deulofeu, 72) — Romelu Lukaku

Unused substitutes: Joel Robles — Johnny Heitinga, Nikica Jelavić, Arouna Koné

Newcastle (4-3-3): Tim Krul — Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Michael Williamson, 46), Mathieu Debuchy — Cheik Tioté, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita (Papiss Demba Cissé, 69) — Hatem Ben Arfa (Yohan Cabaye, 46), Loïc Rémy, Yoan Gouffran

Unused substitutes: Robert Elliot — Paul Dummett, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi

Halftime substitute Yohan Cabaye pulls one back for Newcastle against Everton

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Down 3-0 to Everton at halftime, Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew brought Yohan Cabaye in for Hatem Ben Arfa on the left wing, and it paid dividends immediately.

In the 51st minute, Cabaye scored his team’s first goal of the game. It was a well-taken strike, although Everton left him unmarked and with space to turn about 25 yards from goal. Cabaye dipped a shot under the crossbar and inside the far post, leaving Tim Howard with no chance.

Newcastle started better than Everton after the break, also bringing on Michael Williamson for center back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, whom Everton victimized on multiple ocassions in the first half.

Watch Live: Everton vs. Newcastle United (lineups and discuss)

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Everton is the last remaining undefeated team in the Premier League. Newcastle United has won two of its last three but only three of its last 22 games away from home.

It seems the result can only go one way, but Magpies manager Alan Pardew and his team would likely disagree. On the other end, Roberto Martínez finally has his team clicking in the possession style he wants to play, but losing Marouane Fellaini to Manchester United doesn’t make it any easier.

Everton and United States No. 1 Tim Howard (pictured) has kept three clean sheets so far, in consecutive matches, ruined by two West Ham goals in last week’s 3-2 thriller at Upton Park. Those two goals were half of the team’s total concessions this season.

(MORE: Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Newcastle United)

You can watch the game live on NBCSN from 2:30 p.m. ET and online via NBC Sports Live Extra.

LINEUPS

Everton (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard — Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman — Gareth Barry, Leon Osman — Kevin Mirallas, James McCarthy, Ross Barkley — Romelu Lukaku

Bench: Joel Robles — Johnny Heitinga, Nikica Jelavić, Arouna Koné, Gerard Deulofeu, Steven Naismith, John Stones

Newcastle (4-3-3): Tim Krul — Mathieu Debuchy, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon — Vurnon Anita, Cheik Tioté, Moussa Sissoko — Yoan Gouffran, Loïc Remy, Hatem Ben Arfa

Bench: Robert Elliot — Paul Dummett, Michael Williamson, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Papiss Demba Cissé