Steve Gerrard needed just 30 minutes to remind Liverpool FC what it missed for most of 2011. The Reds' captain sealed the victory over Newcastle with an all-action performance in the second half of Friday's game.
Gerrard's 78th-minute goal will take up much of the headlines, but it was his all-around effort that tipped the balance of the game in Liverpool's favor. It was his second game back from a long-term absence. But the veteran midfielder drove his team forward and created chances for his teammates in a way that only he can.
The LFC Captain spoke of his joy at being on the field and contributing to the winning effort in a postgame interview with Sky Sports. For much of the nearly two months he missed while recovering from an infection, the Reds played an annoying string of games where they outplayed their opponents, but settled for draws at the end. It was broken against Newcastle with Gerrard's contributions.
"It's good to be back," Gerrard said. "I've had a terrible year with a lot of injuries, but I just want to look forward. I'm delighted to be back with the lads today, to get on the scoresheet and get three points was a perfect return. It's great to be back.
"I think of late we haven't got what we deserved. We've put a lot of pressure on teams, played well and come away without maximum points, so it's really pleasing to get three points and also score three goals, because we've had a bit of criticism for not scoring enough goals."
His second goal of the season was the best moment of the game. Midfielder Jay Spearing played a well-placed through ball to Jordan Henderson, who was standing just outside the Newcastle area. The 20-year-old played a deft pass into the area for his surging mentor, and Gerrard took over from there.
The LFC captain took three touches and slotted his shot underneath Tim Krul to the far post, scoring his seventh goal in his last nine Premier League games against Newcastle.
It was a clinical finish, the type of which Liverpool fans have longed for during this campaign. They can only hope that 2012 will bring them much more of Gerrard and his heroics.
Review all the action from Friday's game in our Liverpool Live Blog.