Final, 2-1 Liverpool: The game is over. Liverpool ends the season with a victory.
Liverpool’s memorable 2013-14 campaign took one final twist Sunday. The Reds were sluggish for much of the first hour, but Agger and Sturridge both struck in the span of less than two minutes, turning the game on its head. Ameobi’s dismissal made a Newcastle comeback virtually impossible, and Liverpool fans were allowed to sing and celebrate the final thrill of a fine season for the last 20 minutes of the game.
Liverpool showed great pride in its second-half performance, and it’s fitting that Gerrard led the way with a pair of assists from free kicks. The Liverpool captain bounced back from the recent, disappointing turn of events (in the title race) by putting consecutive free kicks in the place of maximum danger. The names of Agger and Skrtel appear on the score-sheet, but they wouldn’t be there without the pin-point accuracy of Gerrard’s free kicks — much like Liverpool’s second-place position in the final standings.
Newcastle’s demise mirrored that of its fortunes in the second-half of the season. The Magpies didn’t defend or attack well enough to say they deserved at least a point from this game. They lost the lead then their heads in a few fateful minutes. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess.
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90th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: The fourth official indicates that there will be four minutes of added time.
Liverpool is enjoying the final minutes of the season. Newcastle has dropped into a defensive shell. It looks like damage limitation is the order of business for the visitors — as opposed to scoring another goal.
89th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Lucas trips de Jong from behind, earning himself a yellow card.
87th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Dummett is sent off for a cheap shot on Suarez.
Dummett had only been on the field for six minutes when Liverpool tried to break forward on the counter-attack. Dummett crashed into Suarez, seemingly without any intent of playing the ball, and sent the Uruguayan hurtling to the turf.
81st minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Newcastle makes its third and final substitution, bringing on Dummett for Tiote.
80th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Lucas replaces Sturridge, whose season ends with a tally of 22 Premier League goals and 25 in all competitions.
79th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Gerrard nearly finds Agger’s head with another free kick, but the Dane can’t make contact with the delivery.
78th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Sammy Ameobi, younger brother of the recently dismissed Shola, replaces Gouffran.
73rd minute, 2-1 Liverpool: De Jong replaces Taylor. Newcastle brings on a striker as it searches for a score leveler of its own.
70th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: The complexion of the game has changed in almost an instant.
Newcastle has lost its defensive and mental discipline. Liverpool is looking to capitalize on the moment and extend its lead.
66th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Now Ameobi is sent off. Newcastle is down to 10 men.
Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 11, 2014
Dowd cautioned Ameobi twice in less than a minute. We have no idea what he said, but it must have offended Dowd.
65th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Sturridge gives Liverpool the lead just two minutes later.
Gerrard provided the assist again, delivering a carbon-copy free kick to the same spot. Sturridge arrived first and tapped it home.
63rd minute, 1-1: Agger ties the game.
Gerrard delivered a free kick to the far post, and Agger connected with a lunging shot which beat Krul.
59th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Coutinho replaces Allen, as Liverpool makes its second personnel change of the game.
56th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Gerrard creates a moment of danger with a free kick, but Skrtel and Suarez can’t redirect it at the far post and it goes out of play for a goal kick.
52nd minute, 1-0 Newcastle: The Reds have started the second half worse than they ended the first, as Newcastle enjoys a sustained spell of possession to the shouts of “ole” from the visiting fans after each pass.
49th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: There’s more bad news on Liverpool’s title front.
49mins: Manchester City have taken a 2-0 lead against West Ham United.—
Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 11, 2014
46th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: The second half has started. Liverpool is attacking the Kop end.
Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 11, 2014
Liverpool made one substitution at halftime, bringing on Cissokho for Flanagan.
Halftime, 1-0 Newcastle: The first half comes to end with the Reds trailing by one goal.
Liverpool isn’t playing with the thrust, hunger or invention it showed for so much of the season, and Skrtel’s goal has it down at the break. The Reds are controlling possession but have little to show for their domination of the ball. They’ve been able to breach Newcastle’s defense on a few occasions, but their final pass or shot lacks the sharpness necessary to beat Krul.
Newcastle has comfortably absorbed Liverpool’s attacking pressure and threatened the Reds down both flanks at various points. Gouffran’s has caused Johnson problems with his speed and unbalanced Liverpool’s defense.
Liverpool needs better movement, its passing must be crisper and players must show more determination in the second half. The ideas that can lead to a goal are there. The execution and self-belief are lacking.
41st minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Sturridge has a golden opportunity to tie the score, but he fails to head Henderson’s cross on target.
Meanwhile, Manchester City has taken another step toward winning the Premier League title.
40mins: Manchester City have taken a 1-0 lead against West Ham United.—
Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 11, 2014
35th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: The referee cautions Debuchy for time wasting.
34th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Suarez dribbles around a pair of Newcastle defenders and shoots on goal.
Krul made the save on a shot which lacked the power to beat him.
27th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Gouffran broke in behind the Liverpool defense after the Reds lost the ball in the midfield.
The quick-thinking Mignolet rushed off his line and saved Gouffran’s shot. Anita arrived at the rebound first but shot dozens of rows into the stands.
23rd minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Agger nearly provides a quick response for the Reds by heading Gerrard’s corner kick on goal. Krul did well to save the low shot.
20th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Skrtel’s defensive calamity gives the visitors the lead.
Gouffran drove down the left side and crossed into area. Skrtel attempted to eliminate the danger but sliced his clearance into Mignolet’s goal.
18th minute, 0-0: Suarez appeared to score after being brought down on the right, but referee Phil Dowd disallows the goal.
Suarez took the free kick immediately after the foul. Without touching the still-rolling ball, Suarez rose, looked up and shot into the goal. The Uruguayan started to celebrate, but Dowd hadn’t indicated that he could take the free kick in the first place.
11th minute, 0-0: Suarez sends Sterling in on goal, but Sterling can’t shoot before a defender arrives and sends him to the ground.
Liverpool wanted a penalty. The referee thought otherwise. Henderson also was tripped up at the edge of the penalty area.
10th minute, 0-0: Ameobi heads Sissoko’s deflected cross, but it goes straight to Mignolet.
Sixth minute, 0-0: Newcastle is going with five defenders in an effort to stymie the Liverpool attack. The visitors seem content to allow Liverpool to dominate possession and control of the midfield areas.
Liverpool is taking a patient approach but is also looking to play diagonal balls over the top to Suarez or Sturridge.
First minute, 0-0: The game is underway. Liverpool is attacking the Anfield Road end.
Pregame: Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has made two changes to the starting lineup that he used in Monday’s 3-3 draw against Crystal Palace.
As expected, Henderson returns to his berth in the midfield, while Agger starts in the center of defense next to Skrtel. Rodgers has preferred Sakho over Agger in recent weeks, but the Danish defender starts for the first time since the 4-0 win against Tottenham on March 30.
Newcastle’s starting 11 has a defensive look. It includes three nominal center backs — Taylor, Williamson and Coloccini — and two fullbacks. Whether the Magpies will line up with four or five at the back remains to be seen, but they’ll likely try to drop off in defense and place greater emphasis on preventing, rather than scoring, goals.
9:30 a.m.: Here are the lineups:
Simon Mignolet (15), goalkeeper
Jon Flanagan (38), left back
Daniel Agger (5), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Steven Gerrard (8), midfielder
Joe Allen (24), midfielder
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Raheem Sterling (31), forward
Daniel Sturridge (15), forward
Luis Suarez (7), forward
Brad Jones (1), goalkeeper
Kolo Toure (4), defender
Mamadou Sakho (17), defender
Aly Cissokho (20), defender
Lucas Leiva (21), midfielder
Philippe Coutinho (10), midfielder
Iago Aspas (9), striker
Tim Krul (1), goalkeeper
Massadio Haidara (19), left back
Steven Taylor (27), center back
Mike Williamson (6), center back
Fabricio Coloccini (2), right back
Mathieu Debuchy (26), midfielder
Vurnon Anita (8), midfielder
Cheik Tiote (24) midfielder
Yoan Gouffran (11), midfielder
Moussa Sissoko (7), midfielder
Shola Ameobi (23), striker
Rob Elliot (21), goalkeeper
Davide Santon (3), defender
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (13), defender
Paul Dummett (36), defender
Lubomir Satka, defender
Sammy Ameobi (28), forward
Luuk de Jong (18), striker
9 a.m. ET: Liverpool looks to end its outstanding 2013-14 season on the highest of notes when it faces Newcastle United at Anfield on Sunday.
Liverpool can ensure at least a second place finish in the Premier League with a victory. The Reds trail Manchester City by two points, and the league championship remains a mathematical possibility. Liverpool must defeat Newcastle in order to have a chance at winning its first domestic title since 1990, but Reds everywhere also are hoping West Ham can top Manchester City at Etihad Stadium and provide the platform for a dream finish to the campaign.
Liverpool welcomes Jordan Henderson back to the squad. The industrious midfielder returns from a three-game suspension and likely will start. Henderson will give Liverpool a burst of energy in the midfield, while Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling are tasked with providing the goals.
Ninth-place Newcastle is playing for little more than its position in the standings. The Magpies have endured a turbulent season under manager Alan Pardew, but they too want to finish with a positive feeling.
Sunday’s game kicks off at 10 a.m. Stay right here, as we’ll bring you all the action from Anfield as it happens.
Photo via LiverpoolFC.com