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Season 2006-07
 Liverpool (h) Premiership
 

  
NUFC.com in association with


For a second successive game Marco's 
match prediction was bang on: a draw at
 
half time and a home win at the end.
 

Date: Saturday 10th February 2007, 3pm 

Venue:
 St. James' Park

Conditions: no snow, but 24 hours of rain had left the pitch sodden and the fixture survived two pre-match inspections by the officials, who successfully bounced a ball.

In the event the pitch wasn't an issue despite the game being played in steady rain.
 

 
 

  

Newcastle United

Liverpool

2 - 1

Teams

Goals

6 mins Steve Harper's miskick went straight to Jermaine Pennant who went past Babayaro before pulling the ball back from the byline to Craig Bellamy - the former Mag side-footing into the Gallowgate net with the 'keeper stranded. The knee-slide celebration in The Strawberry corner did nothing for his popularity but there was no pitch invasion or missile throwing.0-1

26 mins Martins chased a Kieron Dyer ball down our right but Jose Reina inexplicably rushed out and blasted the ball against his own defender leaving Martins to take a couple of touches before stroking the ball into the empty net. 1-1 

Half time: Newcastle
1 Liverpool 1

70 mins
Steven Taylor jinked his way into the area, drawing a rash tackle from John Arne Riise and tumbling over in a manner that could have seen him booked by other officials 

With Dyer intervening to prevent Martins from grabbing the ball, up stepped Solano to hit an accurate low penalty into the corner of the net as Reina guessed wrong and dived to his left.
2-1 

Full time: Newcastle 2 Liverpool 1

We Said

Glenn Roeder said:

"The second half performance was absolutely fantastic. Everyone played their part, and there is not a cooler man in the house to take a penalty than Nobby Solano.

"I was delighted with the two lads in centre midfield. They were up against two of the best midfielders in the Premiership in Steven Gerrard and Momo Sissoko and they coped very well.

"They got right in the faces of the opposition and it was very satisfying."

On Onyewu:

"It was a big game for him, his home debut against Liverpool in front of 52,000 people, but from what I know of him already - I don't know if it's the American bit in him - he is a tough guy.

"He is very, very mentally strong, does not appear to have too many nerves and the longer the game went, the better he got.

"Come the end of the season he might have earned the contract he is desperate to earn to stay here over the next few years. I am delighted for him. He is a really good guy.

About Celestine Babayaro:

"Celestine has had difficult times at Newcastle and he is not everyone's cup of tea with regard to the fans.

"I have read and heard that some of them have questioned his heart, but he lost his brother late on the night before the match and to play 90 minutes and put that all behind him is all credit to him.

"It shows he has got heart for this club and I just wish him and his family all the best.

“Celestine phoned me at 11.30 last night to tell me his younger brother had lost his life and died of tuberculosis in London. We had known for some weeks that he was ill and that’s why I put my arms around him when he came off the pitch. That takes courage.

“Celestine consulted his other brothers and they all agreed their younger brother would have wanted him to play. I know exactly how he felt as I did exactly the same when my father died (Roeder played the same day).

“I told Celestine of my own experience and would have accepted whatever he wanted to do. After winning three points he feels happy and sad at the same time.”

Babayaro spoke about his decision to play and his brother, Kennedy:

"Kennedy would have loved to see me play that game.

"I discussed it with my family and together we all agreed to honour him. It was tough to deal with the situation, but I simply had to do it for him.

"It was so fulfilling that the result went our way, but everything I was doing on the pitch was simply for him - on Saturday I defended the Newcastle colour in his honour.

"It was a difficult time but I simply had to put up a brave heart to concentrate on the game. I think it was after the game that a lot of the picture came out to the rest of the world.

"A very heavy heart was all I possessed on the day but thoughts of him made me stronger. And knowing that he was watching me from above made me feel light at heart."

They Said

Rafa Benitez commented:

"
After the first half it could have been 3-0, then we gave away a stupid goal and a stupid penalty.

“When you are away from home and you have these chances, you must finish the game. In the second half we gave them the chance to win.

"It’s difficult to explain losing a game when you have these chances. We were one on one with the keeper, then without the keeper, but if you can’t score and finish the game it changes.

"Kuyt had a chance in the second half, and now we’ve lost a game we were thinking we could win by two or three. We were controlling everything but we gave them half a chance.

"The conditions are no excuse. We played well in the conditions in the first half. We were doing everything right until the second half. Then we started making mistakes.

"With the pen, John said it could be. It was stupid and you need to be more careful in the penalty box. This is a lesson for the future. You need to work hard always.

"All you can do in this situation is keep winning and see the situation in two or three weeks. But if you can’t win, you can’t change things.

"“We needed to use them both (Sissoko and Zenden) because we had some problems, particularly with Mark Gonzalez who couldn’t get back from being away with Chile.

"“Once again, after a very, very ‘important’ international break we’ve lost some players, which meant we had to use players who’ve not played for months.

"My idea before when we were closer is the same as it is now, we think about the next game. You can’t waste your time talking about the gap or how close we are if you don’t win every game.

"The players were not thinking about this, they were thinking about winning the game. If you don’t win these games how can you close the gap?”

"We will go now to the training camp and we can start thinking about the next game and the Champions League against Barcelona. But we need to learn that when you have these opportunities you must finish the game.

"The conditions were not the best but in the first half we were much better than them.

"We had clear chances because our play was good so I cannot say anything about the conditions.”

Once again we feel compelled to include the "thoughts" of The Liverpool Echo's resident bigot Chris Bascombe, who has a bigger problem with us than even the most unhinged mackem. 

We can only assume his account of the game is so poor due to his obstructed view from the back of the visitor's dugout. 

Make no mistake, this twit has suffered somewhere along the line at our hands: being force-fed pease pudding and black bullets or exposed to an endless loop of the Lindisfarne/Gazza record perhaps. 

News of Liverpool’s defeat filtered through to Dallas and Montreal, there was at least one consolation for Messrs Gillett and Hicks. 

At least the Liverpool fans didn’t follow the traditional Geordie lead and start calling for heads at the top to roll. 

Technically, the American Revolution doesn’t begin until the requisite number of shares have actually changed hands, but this was an inauspicious end to a momentous week. 

It was grim, it was grisly, it was bleak and it was uninviting. The weather, that is. 

Given the circumstances, much of the football was admirable. Liverpool’s Eagle and Child met Newcastle’s Dog and Duck as the Premiership was reinvented as an alehouse game and, although technical expertise paid the price, it was no less exciting. 

The central midfielders of both sides seemed to relish the battle. It was one of those afternoons when the gulf between the bravehearts and the phoneys was brutally exposed. 

For the likes of Steven Gerrard, Momo Sissoko and Scott Parker, the prospect of throwing themselves into more 50-50s in the first fifteen minutes than they get the opportunity to enjoy in a season was stirring. 

For others, those hours of practice on the training ground spent mastering the art of turning a 50-50 into a 60-40 in the opponent’s favour had a tremendous benefit. 

Dare we name names? You know who they are, so do they and, most importantly, so does Benitez. Liverpool had their battlers, but the pitch helped the hosts more than the visitors by preventing any chance of a sustained passing game. 

The exceptional Parker, overlooked as the home side’s man of the match in the most ridiculous act of Geordie nonsense since they sacked Kenny Dalglish, ensured there was as much to admire in Newcastle’s midfield as Liverpool’s. 

If there were satellite pictures being beamed to the United States, one shudders to think what they made of it. Not for the last time, they’ll have required a word on the ear of a more understanding spirit explaining what was going on. 

Although you can anticipate the usual soul-searching after a defeat, this was another of those occasions when the final score told half the story. Or more appropriately, it told the story of one half.

For 45 minutes Liverpool carved enough opportunities to win comfortably. Craig Bellamy embarrassed Titus Bramble in the way most footballers can, but couldn’t build on his early opening. Liverpool paid the price when Pepe Reina’s rare mistake helped the hardworking but utterly hopeless Obefemi Martins to equalise. 

Once Dirk Kuyt maintained the worrying trend of Liverpool strikers needing far more than one chance to score, the ascendancy held before half-time was lost.
 

Defeat still seemed improbable given Newcastle managed to break into the Liverpool penalty area just twice, but they were assisted by another mindless error.
 

Benitez’s language was stronger. “Stupid,” he said, choosing not to elaborate whether he was referring to the challenge, the culprit, or both.
He certainly didn’t disagree with the decision leading to Nolberto Solano’s winning penalty, so take your pick. 

This was the lowlight of a particularly disappointing season for John Arne Riise. Just how disappointing was summed up when one wag said he’d recently found himself contemplating the seemingly impossible.
Maybe we sold Djimi Traore too early,” it was suggested. Ouch. 

It almost goes without saying the usual problems were apparent yet again.

Benitez’s delight with the spine of his team can be interpreted as ongoing concern about what’s happening on the flanks.

Jermaine Pennant created the first goal, but must know he’s barely halfway up the mountain in terms of convincing Benitez he should command a regular starting place next season.

Bolo Zenden’s comeback was in his less favoured left midfield role where, even before his injury, he’s ever looked comfortable.

And while Riise’s problems continue, Steve Finnan continues to defy expectations of a dip. Until he was subbed late on to allow Alvero Alberoa to make his debut, he was the Reds’ best player. 

The delay inviting Peter Crouch into action as Liverpool searched for an equaliser spoke volumes of how mistrustful Benitez is of his striker when he returns from an England international.
 

No sooner do Liverpool get within sight of Chelsea, back down come the shutters.
Benitez has consistently refused to talk publicly about the gap to the leaders, but it doesn’t mean he hasn’t been thinking about it. Privately at least, he must now accept his side has suffered one defeat too many. 

His players simply had too much to do because of their slow start to the season.
 

The second defeat in 15 league games – as undeserved as the last one at Blackburn – wouldn’t be so disappointing if Liverpool hadn’t created a must-win situation so soon into the campaign.
 

When the analysis of his third year in English football is complete, there’s no doubt this is an area Benitez and his staff will point to. Winning the Premiership is tough enough without giving your rivals what was, effectively, a 10-point head start. A top four place is the best Liverpool can hope for now.
 

This was a week when Benitez warned an obsession with a rich, potentially exciting future could undermine the more urgent priority of the present.
After the loss which ensured the Reds’ renewed title bid lasted just a month, Benitez may be forced to join everyone else thinking ahead to the next Premiership season.

PS - We hear that old Pinocchio Thompson on Skysports was equally as one-eyed in his description of the game. Ha!
 

Stats


NUFC  vs Liverpool @ SJP  - Prem years

2006/07: Won 2-1 Martins, Solano (pen)
2005/06: Lost 1-3 Ameobi
2004/05:
Won 1-0 Robert
2003/04:
Drew 1-1 Shearer (pen) 
2002/03: Won 1-0 Robert
2001/02: Lost 0-2 no scorer
2000/01: Won 2-1 Solano, Dyer
1999/00: Drew 2-2 Shearer, Ferguson
1998/99: Lost 1-4 Guivarc'h
1997/98: Lost 0-2 (LC)
1997/98: Lost 1-2 Watson
1996/97: Drew 1-1 Shearer
1995/96: Won 2-1 Ferdinand, Watson
1994/95: Drew 1-1 Lee
1993/94: Won 3-0 Cole 3


Strikers - head to head - 2006/07:

Obafemi Martins (Newcastle) 29 starts 3 subs 12 goals (10 in Prem)
Craig Bellamy
 (Liverpool) 24 starts 7 subs 8 goals (7 in Prem)

Martins reached double figures for the season in the Premiership - and in the process beat Bellamy's best ever league return for us. Obviously hopeless - as that mickey mouser wrote.

Bellamy NUFC Premiership goals - by season:

2001/02
9 goals
2002/03
7 goals
2003/04
4 goals
2004/05
7 goals

Defender Titus Bramble made his 100th Premiership appearance for the club (91 starts, 9 as sub) since debuting in a 4-0 home win over West Ham in August 2002.

From that side, Solano and Dyer were in Saturday's XI while Harper had been on the bench in 2002.  

He's netted three times in that century of league games, all at home and all at the Gallowgate End: v Southampton in Jan 2005, Wigan in April 2006 and Chelsea in May 2006.

Nobby Solano notched his 48th goal in Newcastle colours (37 Premier, 4 Intertoto, 2 League Cup, 2 FA Cup, 2 Champs League, 1 UEFA Cup). This was his 7th penalty success

29 of those have come at SJP (15 Gallowgate/14 Leazes) and he's not netted away from home since before he moved to Villa. How do we know? read on.........

 1.  28.11.98 Wimbledon (h) shot (Gallowgate)
 2.  28.12.98 Liverpool (a) shot
 3.  17.01.99 Charlton (a) shot
 4.  06.02.99 Leeds (a) shot   
 5.  13.03.99 Manchester United (h) free kick (Leazes)
 6.  03.04.99 Derby (a) shot
 7.  09.08.99 Spurs (a)  shot
 8.  21.08.99 Wimbledon (h) penalty (Gallowgate)
 9.  16.09.99 CSKA Sofia (a) free kick (UE)
10. 16.01.00 Southampton (h) shot (Leazes)
11. 26.11.00 Liverpool (h) shot (Leazes) 
12. 02.12.00 Aston Villa (a) shot
13. 26.12.00 Leeds (h) free kick (Gallowgate)
14. 02.01.01 Spurs (a) shot 
15. 07.01.01 Aston Villa (h) shot (Leazes) (FA) 
16. 20.01.01 Leeds (a) penalty
17. 16.04.01 West Ham (h) penalty (Gallowgate)
18. 25.07.01 1860 Munich (a) shot (IT)
19. 25.07.01 1860 Munich (a) shot (IT)
20. 01.08.01 1860 Munich (h) penalty (Gallowgate) (IT)
21. 21.08.01 Troyes (h) shot (Leazes) (IT)
22. 26.09.01 Leicester (h) shot (Leazes)
23. 13.10.01 Bolton (a) shot
24.
27.10.01 Everton (a) header
25. 09.12.01 Ipswich (a) shot
26. 22.12.01 Leeds (a) shot
27. 17.02.02 Manchester City (h) shot (Gallowgate) (FA)
28.
29.03.02 Everton (h) shot (Leazes)
29. 29.03.02 Everton (h) shot (Leazes)
30. 19.08.02 West Ham (h) shot (Leazes)
31. 28.09.02 Birmingham (a) shot
32. 27.11.02 Inter Milan (h) shot (Gallowgate) (CL)
33. 21.12.02 Fulham (h) shot (Leazes)
34. 15.03.03 Charlton (a) shot
35. 22.03.03 Blackburn (h) header (Gallowgate)
36. 21.04.03 Aston Villa (h) free kick (Gallowgate)
37. 26.04.03 Mackems (a) penalty
38. 13.08.03 Partizan Belgrade (a) shot (CLQ)
39. 10.12.05 Arsenal (h) shot (Leazes)
40. 02.01.06 Smoggies (h) free kick (Gallowgate)
41. 25.02.06 Everton (h) shot (Leazes)
42. 25.02.06 Everton (h)
shot (Leazes)
43. 04.03.06 Bolton (h) free kick (Gallowgate)
44. 22.04.06 West Brom (h) shot (Gallowgate)
45. 25.10.06 Portsmouth (h) header (Gallowgate) (LC)
46.
25.10.06 Portsmouth (h) shot (Gallowgate) (LC)
47. 20.01.07 West Ham (h) penalty (Leazes)
48. 10.02.07 Liverpool (h) penalty (Gallowgate) 

 

Waffle

The SJP PA man got it right with his pre-kick off airing of "Thunderstruck" - although "Singing in the Rain" would have been equally apt or perhaps "Stormy Weather" for the returning Craig Bellamy.

Two teams with no chance of claiming domestic honours this season contested a game that defied the conditions, the home side ultimately claiming what is as a good a result as any under Roeder.

Defeat for Rafa's Reds removed any doubts that their new owners won't be celebrating a first Premier League title come May. Meanwhile, three points were timely in sustaining our bid for a top ten finish after recent profligacy against West Ham and Fulham.

Having rightly been deemed playable, the pitch proved to be a great leveller in terms of exposing the collective mind set of the two sides and provided a reminder of the time we routinely turned on the hoses to get it to the requisite clagginess for our requirements. 

In simple terms, there were fewer passengers in the black and white lifeboat today compared to the Mersey equivalent - where one or two looked vainly to the sidelines for an early rescue when the tide turned - Taylor's dispossession of a pussy-footing Zenden after the break being a prime example.  

The early exchanges were painful indeed from a Toon perspective - the visitors seemingly capable of scoring every time they streamed across halfway and the Welshman marking his first return here since 2005 with a seemingly inevitable opener.  

At that point Babayaro, Taylor and Onyewu looked shaky in the extreme. And with Titus making up the back four there were no bairns to be blamed today.

But we rode our luck and although chances continued to appear, a combination of Harper and the woodwork kept the opposition at bay in a manner similar to Aston Villa at the same end of SJP recently.

And when Obafemi Martins showed hints of Bellamy in proving that he's a taker of half chances and a chaser of lost causes, what had seemed like a re-run of previous straightforward Scouse successes here suddenly became a far more captivating contest.

That yet another new defensive combination kept Bellamy and Co. out after a fraught opening was doubtless the source of satisfaction to Messrs Pearson and Roeder - although the opposition did their bit to help. 

We came through it with Babayaro digging in on the left flank and Onyewu getting to grips with the aerial threat as had been hoped. And once aimless headers stopped dropping for opponents and the midfield and defence opened up some lines of communication, we looked much more confident.

A blank return and some general clog-footedness from Kuyt may also have provided some additional vindication of our reluctance to match Liverpool in meeting Feyenoord's asking price last year - although matching his ten goals to date in our colours would have made a world of difference to our cause.  

Meanwhile in the world of Craig Bellamy nothing much changes. 

Not for the first time in front of Newcastle fans he left the field at half-time with a goal to his name - but not the hat trick that could easily have claimed. 

But it wasn't just in the goalscoring stakes that the upstart was upstaged on his first return to Tyneside in two years.

As the afternoon wore on, Bellamy was to be found in the familiar role of railing against the inadequacies of others - principally his colleagues and the officials, although the opposition and even himself came in for some rants. 

Obviously barking, obviously talented and no longer our problem. Inevitably he will play for us again.

Butt and Parker seemed to relish the conditions and both were rightly singled out for praise by Roeder for their contributions, although we lacked creativity as a result of the twin holding role. 

The departure of the former Man U man against Villa had unsettled us and after his expensive rick at Fulham this was a timely return to his previous effectiveness. Parker also seemed to be boosted by Butt's presence and his display may have also have betrayed some residual frustration at not having got on in place of Gerrard for England in midweek. 

There was still much to worry about - Harper's kicking, Taylor's distribution, Solano's inability to get down the right, an over-reliance on the knackered Dyer, our failure to create a single chance in the game - but through it all we found the energy and the spirit to come out the other side clinging on to the gifts handed to us by Liverpool.

Perhaps the high point of the game (apart from seeing Gerrard lose his rag with the linesman to the delight of the East Stand) was in the realisation that we'd been the more committed of the two sides - something we certainly couldn't have been accused of at Craven Cottage eight days before. 

Benitez may have wittered on about his options being limited by the midweek round of international friendlies, but it was Roeder who had the more reason to be narked about Dyer's 90 minute workout - with Gerrard putting his feet up at half time (something we understand was communicated to the England boss in fairly forceful terms by GR).

Some odd decisions in this game from the Spaniard saw our grip on the lead barely tested by an increasingly demoralised opposition, who
had disappeared up their arse to such an extent that they lacked the presence of mind to lamp the ball forward to Crouch when he made a belated entrance.

By then we were running the clock down big style with Duff playing the Shearer role (and with a similar hindquarters spread to utilise) taking the ball into the corners. 

Our tenth league win of the season and defeats for the sides immediately below us saw us achieve a seasonal high of ninth place, boosting hopes of UEFA Cup involvement next season - even if that has to come via the Intertoto Cup.

Third-placed Liverpool meanwhile left for their Algarve training camp to prepare of a Champions League tie against Barcelona, while our lot took a breather ahead of facing some Belgians who don't even own a ground with proper floodlights. 

The Kopites may moan, but we can only look on enviously at their level of underachievement - and seeing Bellamy back in Toon was a reminder of how recent those Nou Camp and San Siro nights were. Still, little victories, acorns etc.

It's sixteen games since we last played in Europe, with the scoreless draw in Frankfurt the last time we managed to keep a clean sheet in any form of football. 

Despite yet another enforced change in the back four with Onyewu ineligible and Babayaro's attendance uncertain, our first objective needs to be to stop the Belgians from scoring.  

With more positive news from the training ground though, even the most cynical opponent of the current regime would concede that we're papering over the cracks with a slightly firmer hand, as Rafa Benitez followed in the footsteps of Martin O'Neill, Alan Curbishley and Alex Ferguson in failing to beat a "lucky" home side.

We may not be the pub team that some claim, but the beer certainly tasted better after this one.

Biffa

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Page last updated 10 February, 2012