Liverpool title challenge halted by Newcastle
Jurgen Klopp watched his side's burgeoning title challenge go up in smoke at St James's Park
Newcastle 2 Liverpool 0
Liverpool failed to take advantage of a number of the Premier League's title contenders slipping up, as they crumbled against a Newcastle side showing rare fight and determination.
A win would have brought the Reds level on points with fifth-placed Spurs, and just three points behind Manchester City and Manchester United, all of whom dropped points on Saturday afternoon to leave the door ajar for Jurgen Klopp's side to burst into the title race.
The turgid first half was far from a neutral's delight, but Steve McClaren's relegation battlers seemed to draw heart from the fact that they were able to get into the break without having conceded against a Liverpool side who had put six past Southampton in midweek.
The team who took the field on Tyneside were shorn of most of Wednesday's goalscoring talents though, with Daniel Sturridge and hat-trick hero Divock Origi both starting from the bench against the Magpies.
With the Reds struggling for goals and inspiration going forward, Sturridge eventually found his way onto the pitch around the hour mark as Klopp tried to break the deadlock.
One performance in particular was singled out by The Guardian's Andy Hunter, who said that "a fitful contribution from Christian Benteke cast doubt on his suitability to Klopp's system", also noting "the stark contrast in the intensity and style of his team when Benteke does and does not start".
It was a Liverpool player who put the ball in the net first - but at the wrong end, as Martin Skrtel turned Georginio Wijnaldum's shot past the helpless Simon Mignolet from close range to give the hosts a surprise lead with 20 minutes to go.
A poor refereeing decision saw an exquisite volleyed equaliser from Alberto Moreno wrongly ruled out for offside as the game entered its final stages, Klopp later lamenting: "It was a clear goal, I saw it. No problem. When the linesman sees this goal he won't feel good. It was a brilliant goal, goal of the month."
Wijnaldum grabbed the Magpies' second goal in injury time to compound Klopp's misery, meeting Moussa Sissoko's pass with a delicate first-time chip to beat the onrushing Mignolet.