Newcastle United 0 Liverpool 0
- Paul Tierney
Newcastle United earned an admirable point against Premier League champions Liverpool in a goalless draw at St. James' Park on Wednesday night.
Steve Bruce's side produced a spirited display against Jürgen Klopp's Reds and were inspired by Karl Darlow who made a string of terrific saves to achieve Newcastle's third league clean sheet of the season in the Magpies' final game of 2020.
Fabian Schär produced a terrific goal-line clearance to deny Sadio Mané in the closing stages while the hosts went close in both halves through Callum Wilson's powerful effort and Ciaran Clark's header respectively before holding on for a valuable point, becoming the first team this season to prevent Liverpool from scoring in a league match.
The Magpies opened the scoring inside 25 seconds of the previous encounter between the two sides back in July and created the first goalscoring opportunity in the opening stages of the league clash as Wilson's cross-cum shot from the right wing forced Alisson into tipping the ball over his own crossbar.
The United forward then connected with Jacob Murphy's whipped free-kick minutes later but could only glance a headed attempt wide of the target.
The hosts were almost rewarded for their bright start as Wilson raced onto Matty Longstaff's lofted pass before shrugging off Nathaniel Phillips on the left flank and driving into the penalty area but his powerful effort at goal was bravely blocked by stand-in centre-back Fabinho.
Darlow denied Trent Alexander-Arnold from breaking the deadlock midway through the opening 45 minutes, as the right-back got in behind the United defence but his first-time effort lacked enough power and was comfortably held by the Newcastle shot-stopper.
The Magpies goalkeeper then produced a crucial one-hand stop to deny Mohamed Salah as the Premier League's leading goalscorer latched onto Jordan Henderson's lofted pass, beating the offside trap, but his effort was crucially turned around the post by the fingertips of Darlow's right hand.
Liverpool's Roberto Firmino almost broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as the Brazilian connected with Sadio Mané's teasing cross but his fierce header towards goal was importantly pushed away by the impressive Darlow.
In the opening stages of the second half, the Reds went close to opening the scoring as Mané got onto the end of Alexander-Arnold's inviting corner but the Senegalese forward's header struck the side-netting.
The league leaders, entering the game on an eleven game unbeaten run, continued their pursuit for a breakthrough as Salah went close to completing a dangerous attack after the hour mark after latching onto Firmino's pass and cutting inside but the Egyptian uncharacteristically steered his attempt wide of the left-hand post.
Firmino then missed another glorious opportunity after his close-range header from Andy Robertson's corner was directed narrowly past the post.
Schär produced a heroic goal line clearance to prevent the visitors from a certain goal as Alexander-Arnold's low cross was only pushed into the dangerous area by Darlow but the Swiss defender was alert to hook away the loose ball.
With the final whistle approaching, Darlow produced another tremendous stop as Firmino's thumping header from inside the six-yard area was pushed away by Darlow before the goalkeeper bravely punched the ball clear to safety.
Newcastle United: Karl Darlow, DeAndre Yedlin, Fabian Schär, Federico Fernández (c), Ciaran Clark, Matt Ritchie (Jamal Lewis 85), Matty Longstaff, Isaac Hayden, Jacob Murphy (Miguel Almirón 66), Joelinton, Callum Wilson.