Joe Willock scored a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser as Liverpool blew the chance to move into the Premier League's top four after dominating for large parts in a 1-1 draw.
Starting the day in seventh Liverpool could ill afford any more surprise defeats at Anfield and Mohamed Salah settled the nerves with an explosive finish with their first attack in the third minute.
It should have set the tone for a comfortable afternoon but Jurgen Klopp's team were wasteful in front of goal, failing to score again despite registering a further 21 shots on Newcastle's goal.
With time running out Newcastle sensed an opportunity to strike and thought they had equalised when Callum Wilson bundled home, but VAR disallowed the goal as the ball inadvertently hit his arm before he scored.
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Undeterred by a potential piece of VAR injustice, Steve Bruce's side kept going and, with their final attack, Willock - who scored the winner in the victory against West Ham last weekend - popped up to strike home a deflected effort (90+5).
Having played a game more than Chelsea and West Ham, who meet later today, Liverpool find themselves one point behind their rivals in sixth place. Newcastle are all-but safe from relegation, nine points above the drop zone.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (6), Kabak (7), Fabinho (6), Robertson (7), Wijnaldum (7), Thiago (8), Jota (5), Firmino (7), Mane (5), Salah (7)
Subs: Milner (7), Jones (5)
Newcastle: Dubravka (8), Clark (7), Fernandez (7), Dummett (7), Ritchie (7), Longstaff (7), Shelvey (7), Murphy (8), Almiron (6), Saint-Maximin (8), Joelinton (6)
Subs: Willock (8), Gayle (6), Wilson (7)
Man of the match: Thiago
How Liverpool's frustrations reached new levels...
Around 150 supporters greeted the Liverpool team coach's arrival but only a fraction took the opportunity to protest regarding the owners' conduct over the proposed European Super League breakaway.
- Jurgen Klopp made one change from the draw with Leeds as Mohamed Salah returned in place of James Milner, meaning Liverpool played with a front four of Diogo Jota, Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.
- If it isn’t broke? Steve Bruce named the same team that beat West Ham, which meant no place for match-winner Joe Willock who remained on the bench. As did Callum Wilson.
On the field Liverpool had a job to do in order to make sure Champions League football would be seen at Anfield next season. They started with great intent, grabbing the lead inside three minutes.
Salah was the man to take the chance, firing home a well-taken goal following a Sadio Mane cross - his 20th Premier League strike of the season.
That would be the last time Liverpool would find the net, but it was not for a want of trying.
Mane and Diogo Jota were the chief culprits in front of goal.
Jota was twice off-target with efforts when well-placed, while Mane still looked to be lacking in confidence, taking an extra touch on what should have been a first-time shot from Salah's cross the best example of that.
Newcastle found areas to work in on the counter-attack thanks to the superb Allan Saint-Maximin.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have taken just five points from a possible 27 against Fulham, Brighton, Burnley, Newcastle and West Brom this season.
Their best chance fell to Sean Longstaff when he burst from midfield and it required a smart save by Alisson and a clearance from Ozan Kabak to keep the hosts ahead.
Joelinton did well to break in behind after the break but his finishing was lacking as Alisson won that battle, making a solid save to deny his fellow Brazilian from close range,
Roberto Firmino then saw his near-post volley saved by Martin Dubravka's outstretched foot as Liverpool's ruthlessness in front of goal from yesteryear vanished. Salah hit the side-netting, Trent Alexander-Arnold smacked a volley wide and Mane and James Milner tested Dubravka with efforts from range.
Yet, Newcastle remained in the game and sent Wilson and Willock on in search of a late goal.
Wilson's pace sent him through in injury-time and he bundled the ball over the line only for VAR to rule the ricochet onto his elbow off goalkeeper Alisson was handball.
A lucky escape for Liverpool, but even with that huge slice of fortune they could not see it out.
Willock latched onto a loose ball to drive home with the aid of a deflection off Fabinho to leave Klopp dumbstruck on the touchline.
What the managers said
Jurgen Klopp speaking to BT Sport: "If you deserve it, you deserve it. I didn't see today that we deserved to play Champions League next season. In another five games? We'll see what we can do.
"We learn or we don't play Champions League. That's it.
"We didn't finish the game off and we didn't play enough... the counter-attack can happen but we kept them alive. In the end they deserved the goal. They scored two minutes before, with the new rules it's unlucky for Wilson but that's how it is now... and we didn't even take that present.
"We've been unlucky with VAR this season but today we were and then we gave another chance away. It's really tough to take.
"Why it's happened, I don't know. We just have to keep the ball. In specific ways we don't fight enough. It's not about when we make a mistake, we try to get it back and stuff but [we need to] keep it ourselves in a position where we [can] dominate the game.
"We had 70 per cent of the ball and we should have had 80. We create a lot of chances but didn't score with them so we have to create more. When you don't score with the second or third chance it has a bit of an impact, instead of 'Who cares? Keep going'. We don't do that well in this moment. It feels like a defeat."
Newcastle boss Steve Bruce: "There's no denying we were sloppy with some of the decisions we made trying to play out from the back but I always thought we carried a threat going forward.
"We scored twice in the last minute which is quite remarkable. To go and get something from the game is vitally important.
"We were gutted [by Wilson's disallowed goal]. When you see the goal back you think what a ridiculous decision that is not to allow the goal.
"We are going to have to look at these crazy rules. VAR is becoming laughable and it is not VAR's fault, it is the letter of the law. It doesn't make sense.
"VAR was brought in for a clear and obvious mistake so to be looking at every goal whether it is a millimetre or two onside is not a great spectacle."
- After a run of eight defeats in 10 league games, Newcastle have lost just one of their last eight in the Premier League (W2 D5).
- Liverpool have kept just three home clean sheets in the Premier League this season, conceding at least once in each of their last eight at Anfield in the competition.
- At 94 minutes and 58 seconds, Willock's equaliser for Newcastle was the latest goal Liverpool have conceded at Anfield in a Premier League game since we have exact goal times available (2006-07).
- Mohamed Salah's opener was his 20th league goal of the season, making him the first Liverpool player to score at least 20 in three separate Premier League campaigns (32 in 2017-18, 22 in 2018-19).
- Mohamed Salah's strike after two minutes and 59 seconds was Liverpool's earliest home goal in a Premier League game since April 2019, when Naby Keita scored after 15 seconds against Huddersfield.
- Liverpool's James Milner made his 159th appearance as a substitute in the Premier League, overtaking Peter Crouch as the all-time record holder for sub apps in the competition.
Liverpool have a trip to old foes Manchester United next Sunday, live on Sky Sports (4.30pm kick-off). Newcastle are also in action on Super Sunday as they host Arsenal (2pm kick-off).