Liverpool beats Newcastle 3-1 in Premier League
Updated: December 30, 2011, 18:28
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LIVERPOOL, England(AP) Craig Bellamy scored twice for Liverpool and substitute Steven Gerrard netted another to cap a 3-1 comeback victory over Newcastle in the Premier League on Friday.
Newcastle had taken the lead with a lucky goal in the 25th, as Ryan Taylor's cross was headed toward goal by Yohan Cabaye and then deflected off Liverpool defender Daniel Agger to wrongfoot goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
But Bellamy equalized five minutes later with a low shot into the bottom left corner after a poor clearance fell right at his feet, and added the second with a free kick in the 67th.
"It's not the first time we've praised him and it certainly won't be the last,'' Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said of Bellamy, who left the game late on to have four stitches in an eye wound after a clash with Fabricio Coloccini. "We are delighted for him. We just hope his cut eye isn't too bad. As he came off I just said congratulations to him.''
Gerrard came on as a substitute for his second appearance after a two-month injury layoff and scored the third after running onto a ball from Jordan Henderson and slotting it underneath goalkeeper Tim Krul from a tight angle.
"It's good to be back. I've had a terrible year with a lot of injuries but I just want to look forward,'' Gerrard said. "I'm delighted to be back with the lads today, to get on the scoresheet and get three points was a perfect return.''
It was the first time Liverpool scored three goals in a match since an Aug. 27 win over Bolton, and the victory lifted the team temporarily above Arsenal into fifth place with 34 points ahead of the rest of the weekend's games. Newcastle remained in seventh place, on 30 points.
The talk before the game was mostly about striker Andy Carroll, who was bought by Liverpool from Newcastle for a club-record 35 million pounds in the last January transfer window. But while Carroll again struggled to find his scoring form, it was another former Newcastle player in Bellamy who helped spark the comeback after the Magpies went in front with a big dose of luck.
The Newcastle goal came after Haris Vuckic was hit in the face by Glen Johnson's clearance, sending the ball out on the left flank and eventually ending up with Taylor. He swung in a cross from the left toward Cabaye, whose glancing header was heading for the far right corner of the net when Agger inadvertently diverted it past Reina under pressure from Demba Ba.
However, Liverpool was soon level again.
Cheick Tiote made a poor attempt at clearing Charlie Adam's cut-back from the right of the penalty area and Bellamy drove through a crowd of players from 16 yards.
The home side picked up the tempo and Stewart Downing's volley was blocked by Jonas Gutierrez while Martin Skrtel flashed a header just wide of the far post from Bellamy's corner.
Gerrard replaced Adam just before the hour and the captain's first involvement was to whip in a near-post cross which almost picked out Carroll.
When the England midfielder did find the unmarked striker in five yards of space in the penalty area, the record signing failed to control the ball with a poor first touch.
Carroll played a decoy role in Liverpool's second, although Liverpool was helped even more by Newcastle's Danny Simpson.
As Bellamy lined up for a free kick, the Newcastle defender decided to backtrack to the goalline, allowing Carroll to advance towards Krul. When the set-piece came in Simpson got in the way of his goalkeeper and the ball crept between the two of them.
Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said that goal swung the momentum of the game.
"We were having a good period there,'' Pardew said. "It was never a foul, I don't know why the ref's given that, and then we've made an error on the free kick. The defender and the goalie got in each other's way and we've let a sloppy one in, but we should never have been in that situation in the first place.''
Newcastle had a chance to equalize three minutes later when Ba clipped a narrow-angle shot over Reina - only for Skrtel to clear just inches from the goalline.
Carroll's best chance came shortly afterward, but his header rebounded off the crossbar.
Instead, Gerrard scored just his second league goal of the season when he ran from deep to collect Henderson's pass into the area and sidefooted an angled shot between the legs of the onrushing Krul.
"He's getting back to fitness which is fantastic reward for him and everyone who has worked with him to get him back to the level he's at now,'' Dalglish said.