Bellamy bags brace & Gerrard scores off the bench to cancel out Agger own goal as hosts move fifth
With all eyes on Andy Carroll, it was another ex-Magpie who came back to haunt his old employers with a well-taken brace, after the visitors had taken the lead in the first half
All smiles | Bellamy nets Liverpool's second from a free-kick
Two goals from Craig Bellamy against his former club helped Liverpool to a 3-1 win over Newcastle United, while Steven Gerrard netted his first goal since returning from a lengthy absence through injury.
Alan Pardew's side had taken the lead in the first half courtesy of an own goal from Daniel Agger, but the hosts gradually grew into the game and eventually ran out comfortable winners to move up to fifth in the Premier League.
It was a slow start to proceedings, with both sides opting for a tentative 4-5-1 system which resulted in a congested centre. Liverpool started brightly and should have taken advantage of Jose Enrique’s low cross which fizzed past everyone in the Newcastle box.
Although the hosts enjoyed the majority of possession, they were unable to create any telling chances and on 22 minutes, the visitors struck against the run of play.
Ryan Taylor cut in from the left and angled a cross in towards Yohan Cabaye, whose flicked header took a deflection off the arm of Agger which fooled Pepe Reina who had already committed to diving to his left.
The goal sparked Liverpool's retaliation and within eight minutes they were level as Bellamy rifled in a low drive from the middle of the box as Newcastle failed to clear their lines following a positive run from Charlie Adam on the right flank.
With the supporters now in full voice, the hosts came within inches of a second less than ten minutes later, as Martin Skrtel flashed a header across goal from Adam’s corner.
Liverpool continued to look dangerous down the wings but they failed to significantly trouble a Newcastle defence which was brilliantly marshalled by Fabricio Coloccini, who himself won almost every aerial duel against Andy Carroll.
Pardew would have been keen for his side to retain better possession in the second half, and his team duly obliged as they frustrated Liverpool after the restart, who themselves struggled to maintain a high tempo.
Kenny Dalglish waited until the hour mark to introduce Gerrard, and the talismanic midfielder threatened immediately after his introduction, whipping an inviting cross towards Carroll which flashed across the goal mouth.
The frustrated Carroll then spurned a glorious chance, as he latched on to a Jordan Henderson pass only to touch the ball into the grateful gloves of Tim Krul.
Liverpool’s frustration was not to last, however, as Bellamy rifled in a free-kick from 25 yards which hit Danny Simpson on its way towards goal, taking the ball away from Krul.
Newcastle almost hit back immediately when Ba was played through by Cabaye, but his well-placed chip over Reina was brilliantly hooked off the line by Skrtel. Moment later, Carroll suffered further frustration as his close-range header cannoned back off the crossbar.
Gerrard had looked lively since his introduction, and with just over ten minutes to go, the captain made the points safe, slotting home between Krul’s legs from a tight angle after being played in by Jay Spearing.
Newcastle were beginning to look disorganised for the first time in the match, and it nearly got worse for the visitors when the ball broke to Glen Johnson on the edge of the area, but the England full-back dragged his shot well wide of the mark.
Despite the match ending in frustration for Carroll, who is now without a goal in eight appearances, Liverpool remain in contention of securing a Champions League spot, while Newcastle continue to have problems replicating their early-season form.