Liverpool Live Blog: Craig Bellamy, Steve Gerrard Goals Lead Reds Past Newcastle 3-1

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Liverpool Live Blog: Craig Bellamy, Steve Gerrard Goals Lead Reds Past Newcastle 3-1Final 3-1 Liverpool: It’s a final from Anfield. The Reds found their cutting edge in the final game of 2011, and downed the Magpies.

Bellamy was the hero against his former club and Gerrard cemented his return to action with a well-taken goal to bury LFC’s opponents.

That’s all for now and thanks for joining us. Let’s discuss this one on Twitter @NESNsoccer and Facebook. Be sure to keep an eye out for some news, fan reactions, analysis and opinion that is on the way on NESN.com.

86th minute, 3-1 Liverpool: It seems Gerrard’s goal has sapped the visitors of their will to take a result from this trip to Anfield. Their passing has lacked sharpness in the last ten minutes, as they have consigned themselves to defeat. 

78th minute, 3-1 Liverpool: Captain fantastic scores what should be the winner for LFC. Henderson sent him into the area with a deft touch. Gerrard controlled and slotted it under an on-rushing Krul. 

The finish showed a bit of class that Liverpool has lacked in the final third this season. It was taken from the most acute of angles, and the Reds’ midfielder slotted it under the in-form goalkeeper inside of the far post. 

74th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Kuyt comes on to replace the two-goal hero Bellamy. The Welsh wizard was cut above the eye after Coloccini caught him with an elbow.

73rd minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Gerrard swings a cross from the right that Carroll attacks with his head. The LFC striker crashed his header off the bar.

70th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Ba looks like he’s scored the equalizer, but Skrtel heroically clears it off the line. The Slovakian defender has been immense in this and other recent games, keeping Jamie Carragher on the bench. 

67th minute, 2-1 Liverpool: Bellamy scores with a free kick to give LFC the lead. He curled it around the wall with pace. Williamson jumped and missed it, but he was shielding Krul as it swerved. Best was standing on the line and it deflected off the Newcastle attacker’s head into the back of the net.

The Welshman has inspired the Liverpool attack in Suarez’s absence. 

65th minute, 1-1: Ben Arfa is coming on for Vuckic. The Slovenian midfielder didn’t bring much to the Newcastle attack. Liverpool will have to watch for Ben Arfa’s pace as the game reaches its latter stages. 

64th minute, 1-1: Gerrard sends Carroll in on goal, but the misfiring striker cannot control the ball and it rolls to Krul. It was a great chance that the LFC striker spurned. 

60th minute, 1-1: Newcastle enjoys a positive spell of play, but Gerrard enters the fray to add a bit of cutting edge to the LFC attack.

50th minute, 1-1: Downing shoots over the bar from distance. Liverpool has the better of play in the early half but — like the first act — has found it difficult to create clear scoring opportunities

Halftime, 1-1: The first half comes to a close with the score tied at one goal apiece.

43rd minute, 1-1: Liverpool has controlled the run of play since the double goal act, but Newcastle has defended deep in its own end and thwarted each of Liverpool’s attempts.

34th minute, 1-1: Skrtel flashes a header just wide of the far post. Bellamy delivered the corner and the Slovakian defender beat his marker to it. Adam almost met it at the far post, but he was a step slow. 

29th minute, 1-1: Bellamy ties the game just four minutes after going behind. Adam collected a loose clearance on the right side of the Newcastle area and pushed toward the byline. He crossed low and hard and Tiote deflected it into the path of Bellamy. The former Magpie powerfully hit it low to Krul’s right to level things. 

25th minute, 1-0 Newcastle: Newcastle takes the lead at Anfield. Taylor swung a cross in from the left side. Vuckic leaped and got a slight touch on it. It continued on its path and deflected of off Ba’s arm or shoulder past Reina into the net. 

22nd minute, 0-0: The standings don’t lie. LFC-Newcastle is a contest between the league’s sixth and seventh placed teams and so far, it’s an even game. Pardew has fashioned the Magpies into a cohesive and organized unit. 

17th minute, 0-0: The master chance creators have found it difficult to break down the sturdy Newcastle defense. LFC seems to lack that incisiveness (and decisiveness) without suspended star Luis Suarez. 

12th minute, 0-0: Unlike past games in recent weeks, Liverpool does not have its opponent under the usual intense pressure. Newcastle is confident and comfortable in possession.

Sixth minute, 0-0: Agger carries it forward from the defense and shoots wide. He’s made two runs into the attack in the early goings. 

Fifth minute, 0-0: Newcastle just managed to slow the game down and maintain a bit of possession. The visitors did not create any chances. 

First minute, 0-0: Liverpool applies the early pressure and Johnson wins a corner. Nothing comes of it. 

Pregame: Happy new year, everyone.

LFC wants to close this year of progress and the first half of the 2011-12 campaign with a win over fellow contender Newcastle. 

Jay Spearing has been restored to the starting 11, making his return from suspension. 

It looks like a five-man midfield will be the order of the day for the Reds. They will be matched against Newcastle’s strongest area, as Cabaye and Tiote have been star performers for the visitors.

Andy Carroll will look to combine with Bellamy and Downing, who will push forward in support of the lone striker. 

2:15 p.m.: Here are the lineups:

Liverpool

 Pepe Reina (25), goalkeeper
Glen Johnson (2), right back
Daniel Agger (5), center back
Martin Skrtel (37), center back
Jose Enrique (3), left back
Charlie Adam (26), midfielder
Stuart Downing (19), midfielder
Jordan Henderson (14), midfielder
Jay Spearing (20), midfielder
Craig Bellamy (39), forward
Andy Carroll (9), forward

Substitutes

Doni (32), goalkeeper
Jamie Carragher (23), defender
Martin Kelly (34), defender
Steve Gerrard (8), midfielder
Jonjo Shelvey (33), midfielder
Dirk Kuyt (18), midfielder
Maxi (11), forward

Newcastle United

Tim Krul (26), goalkeeper
Danny Simpson (5), right back
Mike Williamson (6), center back
Fabricio Coloccini (2), center back
Ryan Taylor (16), left back
Gabriel Obertan (25), midfielder
Cheik Tiote (24), midfielder 
Yohan Cabaye (4), midfielder 
Jonas Gutierrez (18), midfielder 
Haris Vuckic (29), midfielder
Demba Ba (19), striker

Substitutes

Rob Elliot (35), goalkeeper 
Davide Santon (3), defender 
James Perch (14), defender 
Hatem Ben Arfa (10), midfielder
Sammy Ameobi (28), striker
Shola Ameobi (23), striker
Leon Best (20), striker

12:00 a.m. ET: Liverpool reaches the halfway point in its Premier League campaign and closes the door on 2011 Friday when it hosts Newcastle United. The match-up between the sixth and seventh placed clubs in the Premier League will test both teams’ credentials as a budding domestic force.

Newcastle was the Premier League’s high-flier in the early part of the season, but the last six weeks have seen the Magpies win just one of their last seven games. Injuries and loss of form have slowed the club’s ascent, but it remains just one point behind Liverpool in the standings.

Monday’s victory at Bolton ended a six-game winless run, but Newcastle still holds serious ambitions of playing in European competitions next season. It will look to ride the wave of Demba Ba’s scoring exploits. The Senegalese striker has scored a frightening 14 goals in his last 14 Premier League games.

For Liverpool, Friday’s game will be a reunion show of sorts. Andy Carroll, Craig Bellamy and Jose Enrique played for Newcastle at some point in their careers. Kenny Dalglish led the club to a second-place finish in 1997 in the first year of a two-year spell as its manager. 

The spotlight will be on Carroll. Luis Suarez will serve a one-game ban, and Carroll will likely spearhead the attack. Fit-again Steve Gerrard will play a part in the game, but it may be to soon for his inclusion in the starting 11.

Join us at 2:45 p.m. for Liverpool-Newcastle. We’ll have all the action right here.

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