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Newcastle 1-1 Liverpool: Battling Magpies earn respectable point in Benitez’s Liverpool reunion

Newcastle United earned themselves a hard fought point against Liverpool in a special reunion for manager Rafa Benitez.

It was a strange game, one that if you were a Liverpool fan was probably unbelievably frustrating as their failure to convert chances once again proved a problem.

For a Newcastle fan, it was a rollercoaster, and a match where we rode our luck well beyond what we should have been able to.

The first real example of this was possibly the greatest/worst goalmouth scramble I have ever witnessed in the Premier League.

Following a strike by Sturridge which was turned out for a corner, the ball came into the box and former Newcastle player Wijnaldum hooked a volley towards goal that smacked off the near post.

The ball bounced back out into a box that momentarily took on the form of a pinball machine, with it bouncing all around the place. Lovren had a shot cleared desperately off the line and then Mane dragged the rebound wide.

It was far from pretty, but the Magpies had survived. Somehow.

Not for long however. Philippe Coutinho smashed in a superb 25-yard curler for Liverpool. Honestly not much more can be said about the goal, it was just one of those magnificent strikes.

Some pundits after said Jonjo Shelvey should have been getting closer but quite honestly, it was just a goal you have to accept. Coutinho picked up the ball, jinked inside to take Shelvey out the equation and curled a stunner past a helpless Rob Elliot.

It was simply stunning.

What came next was, as a Newcastle fan, equally stunning. Though not necessarily for it’s beauty, but rather its comedy.

That would have been the Newcastle equaliser, which can be described only as the most Joselu goal ever to have been scored by the Newcastle striker. By that of course, I mean he dallied on the ball, missed the opportunity, and yet somehow still scored.

The chance came about as Liverpool’s defensive woes once again reared their ugly heads, with Shelvey playing a simple but well weighted ball directly between centre backs Lovren and Matip.

Joselu timed his run to perfection but, honestly, he’s not the fastest and a Premier League centre back shouldn’t be getting beaten that easily by him.

He even took the ball under his control well, with a nice first touch, but then took touch after touch beyond that, effectively ending any chance of beating the onrushing goalkeeper, Mignolet.

He had wasted another chance, and that would have been the end of it had Matip, who had done well to make up the ground, not slid in and hooked the ball directly up against the shin of Joselu, thereby knocking the ball around Mignolet and letting it slowly trickle into the net.

It was an ugly goal, but I honestly don’t think a single fan in St James’ Park cared. Joselu certainly didn’t. He celebrated like he’d just scored Coutinho’s finish.

The second half brought about more panicked defending and desperate clinging on from Newcastle, none more so than when Ciaran Clark – usually an assured rock at the back – horribly sliced what looked like an easy clearance directly behind him and into the feet of Sadio Mane.

You just presumed it would be 2-1 at that point, but somehow – and I can’t imagine just how relieved Clark probably was afterwards – Mane didn’t finish the chance.

Beyond that, Newcastle fought on magnificently, showing great resilience and character, as well as boat loads of luck.

It was far from pretty, and we offered little to nothing going forwards, but taking points here and there from big opposition like Liverpool could turn out to be vital by the end of the season.

There was also interesting developments in the presence of Amanda Staveley, a businesswoman with prominent links to the Middle East and an interest to buy a football club, at St James’ Park, but for now it is mere speculation surrounding a possibly takeover.

The club is for sale, though, so you never know. Perhaps Newcastle United could become the next Manchester City. It’d certainly be nice to have some silverware up north, even if we just buy our way to it.

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