Liverpool was forced to settle for a draw at St James’ Park after a pulsating Barclays Premier League encounter against Newcastle ended 2-2 on Saturday afternoon.
Yohan Cabaye stunned the Reds with a masterful long-range strike midway through the first half. However, the home side was reduced to 10 men minutes before the interval.
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa fouled Luis Suarez in the penalty area, and Andre Marriner showed the French defender a straight red card before Steven Gerrard stepped up to notch his 100th Premier League goal for the club.
Substitute Paul Dummett restored the home side’s lead in the 56th minute — but Daniel Sturridge‘s diving header leveled proceedings late in the game to earn the Reds a draw.
The two sides seemed to cancel each other out early on. Newcastle was a transformed team to the one that surrendered to Liverpool six months ago.
Only four of their XI started in the April demolition — but with every tackle you could sense a yearning for redemption in front of the home crowd as they set about shutting Liverpool down.
Yanga-Mbiwa was ruthless in his shadowing of Suarez, and Cheick Toite was allowed to influence the flow of the game, orchestrating those in black and white and stifling those in red.
Then a masterstroke from Cabaye compounded Liverpool’s problems. His stunning long-range strike spun up and over Aly Cissokho, who had inadvertently shielded Simon Mignolet‘s view, and the ball swerved past the Liverpool ‘keeper and into the bottom corner of his net.
Cabaye arrowed another effort dangerously close to the underside of the bar shortly after, before Moussa Sissoko‘s vicious strike sent the Belgian stopper sprawling across his line to palm clear.
But the game turned in Liverpool’s favour. Suarez, who had been largely subdued, latched onto a weighted pass from Sturridge and muscled his way into the box before he was pushed to the floor by Yanga-Mbiwa.
Chaos ensued on the field and in the stands as Marriner reached into his back pocket and produced a red card to reduce Newcastle to 10 men.
As a stream of black and white shirts stormed towards the linesman, and 50,000 home fans vented their fury at his decision, the calmest man in the stadium scooped the ball and waited patiently.
Tim Krul flapped his arms and hopped on the spot as fans in the stand imitated him in an attempt to distract Gerrard, but the Reds’ skipper fixed his gaze on Marriner and waited for the cue to slot his 100th Premier League goal.
When the whistle came, the 33-year-old snapped into action, took a short run up and caressed the ball beyond Krul to level the scores.
After the interval, Glen Johnson‘s effort forced Krul to fling himself low and turn the ball around the post while at the other end, Martin Skrtel‘s touch, yards from goal, prevented Loic Remy from smashing the ball beyond Mignolet.
In the 56th minute, Newcastle made it 2-1 when Dummett stole in behind the Liverpool back-line and diverted a looping cross beyond Mignolet.
Brendan Rodgers adapted his side from 3-5-2 by withdrawing Mamadou Sakho and introducing Luis Alberto, and within 15 minutes, Liverpool had clawed their way back into the game.
Suarez broke clear of the opposition back-line, waited for Sturridge to race into the box before floating a cross into the center, which the Reds’ No. 15 turned home with a diving header.
Liverpool swarmed forward as Newcastle fell deeper and deeper and Suarez skimmed the top of the crossbar with a vicious volley. However, the visitors were unable to find a winner and the game ended in a draw.