Newcastle 2-3 Liverpool: Player ratings as Trent Alexander-Arnold earns a 7

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Liverpool were given a real scare at Newcastle United but managed to come away with all three points, keeping the pressure on Manchester City and the Premier League title race alive.

Virgil van Dijk buried Trent Alexander-Arnold’s corner for the opener in the 13th minute before Chrstian Atsu levelled things up seven minutes later.

Alexander-Arnold was the creator again when Mohamed Salah steered in his 22nd league goal of the season in the 28th minute but Salomon Rondon dragged the Magpies level to make it 2-2 in the 54th minute.

Both sides had a share of the opportunities before two second-half substitutes Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri combined for a dramatic winner. The striker got his head to the Swiss’ free-kick though Jamaal Lascelles’ touch was telling.

Here, we rate the performances of Liverpool’s players.

STARTING XI (4-4-3)

Alisson – Denied Javier Manquillo in the first half but didn’t have any other noteworthy saves to make. Helpless for the two goals. 6

Trent Alexander-Arnold – Made a clearance off the line – though it may have been with his hand – only for Atsu to score the rebound. Excellent delivery saw him pick up two assists. 7

Dejan Lovren – Unconvincing with his passing and was caught out of position for Newcastle’s first. Made a number of clearances. 5

Virgil van Dijk – Made no mistake with a free-header from close range but was caused plenty of problems by Rondon and Co. 6

Andrew Robertson – Impressed with an energetic display. Seemed to be setting off on sprints the whole game and constantly created chances with his threatening crosses. 7

Jordan Henderson – Did a good job directing play in midfield though he wasn’t always in control. 6

Fabinho – Wayward with his usually effective long passing but still put in a shift defensively. Slotted in at centre-back late on. 5

Georginio Wijnaldum – A weak headed clearance led to Newcastle’s second but the Dutchman was otherwise composed in the middle. 6

Mohamed Salah – A tad selfish on occasion but took his goal well, set up Mane for a one-on-one and was a constant threat before leaving the pitch injured. 7

Sadio Mane – Missed a great chance to make it 3-1 in the first half. Wasteful with his passing and struggled to make an impact. 4

Daniel Sturridge – Poor from the start. Moves regularly ended with his poor control or misplaced passes. Set up well by Robertson early in the second half but blazed over the bar. 3

SUBS

Xherdan Shaqiri (for Wijnaldum 66′) – Great in-swinging ball from the free-kick for the winner. 6

Divock Origi (for Salah 73′) – Made an impact off the bench running down the left and will claim the winner. 6

James Milner (for Lovren 84′) – Provided the fresh legs Liverpool needed at the death. N/A

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Liverpool's Naby Keita out for two months and will miss African Nations Cup

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Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita has been ruled out for at least two months with a groin injury which will mean he misses the African Nations Cup.

The Guinea international limped off midway through the first half of the 3-0 Champions League semi-final first leg defeat to Barcelona in the Camp Nou on Wednesday.

He is now likely to be sidelined until the squad return for pre-season training in July.

“It was really unlucky. Bad news, a high-grade adductor injury with the tendon rupture so it keeps him out for at least two months,” said Jurgen Klopp, who will be without the midfielder for Saturday’s trip to Newcastle, as well as home games against Barcelona and Wolves on the final day of the campaign.

“Bad news for us and for Guinea with the Africa Cup of Nations coming up. Not nice.

“Very serious. For sure he is not in the best moment. African Cup of Nations was a big target for him.”

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James Milner insists Barcelona defeat won't derail Liverpool's Premier League title bid

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Liverpool vice-captain James Milner has no intention of allowing their Camp Nou disappointment derail their bid to wrest the Premier League title from Manchester City – and he has not written off their European hopes either.

The 3-0 Champions League semi-final first-leg defeat in Barcelona was demoralising not only because the scoreline makes a comeback incredibly tough, but because it showed no reward for their performance.

Having kept Lionel Messi quiet for 75 minutes, Liverpool were undone by a late double from the Argentinian and the players now have to pick themselves off the floor for their crucial penultimate domestic match of the season at Newcastle on Saturday.

Win and they return to the top of the table and the pressure all goes back on City, who face an in-form Leicester on Monday.

And Milner is confident their focus will be spot-on at St James’ Park.

“I think we are used to playing games in quick succession and we’ve seen the character in this squad on more than one occasion over the last few years,” he said.

“We all know the character that is there. We need to be together and bounce back from that. I have no doubt that this team will do that.”

Considerable doubts remain, however, over their prospects of bouncing back at home to Barcelona next week.

If they can take any hope it is that Roma, whom Liverpool beat in last year’s semi-final, turned around a three-goal deficit against the Catalans.

Crucially, though, they had an away goal, but still scored three unanswered goals at home.

“Obviously it’s possible. If it’s possible anywhere then it is possible at Anfield,” added the veteran midfielder.

“We have seen special European nights there before and big comebacks. It’s going to be very difficult, we know that.

“We have to bounce back quickly from this with a big game at the weekend. Hopefully we can get a good result there and get a bit of positivity going into next week.”

The danger for Liverpool, as was evident in the first leg, is that Messi can be stifled for three-quarters of a game but still put in a decisive performance.

“He’s very hard to stop. He is definitely one of the greatest to have ever played the game, if not the greatest,” said Milner.

“When he does things like he does, it’s tough to stop. We knew that but we thought we could hurt them as well.

“You can’t concentrate on him too much because they have another 10 out there who are pretty good. You try stopping him the best you can when he is obviously on it. It’s very difficult.

“Many teams have tried different ways to do it. The free-kick was obviously pretty much from nothing.

“We have to focus on the positives from our side for the second leg. We created chances and we played a pretty solid game apart from the goals we conceded, which we could have done a bit better.

“But it’s going to be very difficult.”

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