Digital Football Journalist @ronnabe
Liverpool 4-0 Newcastle: Mohamed Salah scores and assists as Reds go six points clear at top
Report and highlights as Fabinho scores first Liverpool goal
Last Updated: 27/12/18 6:05am
Mohamed Salah scored one and made another as Liverpool moved six points clear at the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 rout of Newcastle at Anfield on Boxing Day.
Dejan Lovren's stunning 11th-minute half-volley gave Liverpool a half-time lead with one of the few first-half chances mustered against a stubborn Newcastle defence.
But after the break the hosts turned their dominance into more goals, with Salah converting a penalty he won after Paul Dummett was harshly judged to have brought him to ground (47).
Xherdan Shaqiri put the result beyond doubt by slotting home Trent Alexander-Arnold's low cross 11 minutes from time, and then, seconds after title rivals Manchester City had fallen behind in their game at Leicester, Fabinho headed in Salah's corner (85) to put Liverpool in firm control of the race for the Premier League trophy.
Liverpool: Alisson (7), Alexander-Arnold (7), Lovren (9), Van Dijk (7), Robertson (7), Henderson (8), Wijnaldum (7), Salah (8), Shaqiri (8), Mane (7), Firmino (6).
Subs: Fabinho (7), Sturridge (6), Clyne (n/a)
Newcastle: Dubravka (7), Fernandez (6), Lascelles (4), Dummett (5), Yedlin (5), Hayden (6), Diame (6), Kenedy (5), Joselu (5), Muto (5).
Subs: Longstaff (6), Murphy (n/a).
Man of the match: Dejan Lovren
Had Joselu netted a fine early chance from Ritchie's cross it could have been a very different afternoon, but he headed into the ground and wide - and soon, normal Anfield service was resumed.
A corner taken short to Andrew Robertson was whipped into the back post where Jamal Lascelles' weak header fell perfectly for Lovren, who smashed in his first goal of the season with a peach of a strike from 12 yards.
Newcastle held out until the break as Jurgen Klopp's side failed to create clear chances, but after half-time it was one-way traffic and Liverpool found their clinical edge.
Liverpool saw Trent Alexander-Arnold replace the injured James Milner at right-back, with Xherdan Shaqiri and Giorginio Wijnaldum also back in.
There were some six changes for Newcastle, who dropped Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez to the bench, and welcomed back Federico Fernandez in defence.
Salah netted a penalty within three minutes of the re-start after ref Graham Scott judged Dummett's tug on the Egyptian's arm enough to award a spot kick.
Newcastle survived several scares, with Sadio Mane and Shaqiri both going close before the latter ended a spell of relentless Liverpool pressure in the final third by turning in Alexander-Arnold's cross from a lovely first-time Jordan Henderson through ball.
And with news filtering through that Manchester City were on the verge of a second shock defeat in four days, Fabinho turned in Salah's whipped corner to complete the scoring on a perfect afternoon for Klopp's side.
Man of the match - Dejan Lovren
The self-styled best defender in the world has had a tough time at Liverpool for much of his four years at Anfield, but his goal was the high point of another excellent performance from the World Cup runner-up since he came back into the starting line-up against Manchester United before Christmas.
He took on more aerial duels than anyone else on the Liverpool team (9), winning six of them (also a Liverpool high), and made three clearances too.
- Liverpool are only the fourth Premier League team to be unbeaten at the halfway stage of a season, along with Arsenal in 2003-04, Man Utd in 2010-11 and Man City in 2017-18.
- This was Newcastle's heaviest league defeat at Anfield against Liverpool since December 1987 (also a 0-4 loss).
- Jurgen Klopp registered his 100th win as Liverpool manager in all competitions in his 181st match as Reds boss.
- Mohamed Salah has been involved in 35 goals in 28 home Premier League games for Liverpool (25 goals, 10 assists).
- Newcastle United have now lost each of their last nine away Premier League matches against the 'big six' teams and have lost all six matches against the 'big six' this season.
- Xherdan Shaqiri has scored four goals in his last four Premier League matches - one more than he managed in the 20 prior to this run (3).
- Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 20 matches in December in all competitions (W16 D4), winning their last nine December games in a row.
- This was Liverpool's seventh win in all competitions during December 2018 - their most wins in a calendar month since September 1996 (also seven).
Jurgen Klopp: "[The gap] means nothing. It's important how many points we have, not the others, because what is six points? It's nothing. We have to play them still, they are all strong, we have to play all of them again.
"The first part of the season is over, and the second starts again in three days against Arsenal. It's a tough season, but so far a good season for us. We just have to keep on going."
Rafa Benitez: "The soft penalty in the game made the difference, we were in the game at 1-0 at half-time, but when we conceded the second goal it was more difficult for us to react against a very good team.
"The second goal was crucial, it gave them more confidence and was more difficult for us, you have to take more risks, be more open then you make more mistakes and pay for that."
Liverpool host Arsenal at Anfield on Saturday, in the 5.30pm late kick-off. Newcastle travel to Watford earlier in the day at 3pm.