Both Gerrard and Crouch on target
as Reds win.
Cisse sorry for Toon gestures
Djibril Cisse has issued an apology through Liverpool
manager Rafael Benitez for his controversial behaviour after
scoring his side's third goal from the spot at Newcastle.
Benitez took time off from preparing for the FA Cup
quarter-final at Birmingham to defend his errant Frenchman,
insisting his reaction to crowd abuse at St James' Park was
not a "serious" incident.
"I told him during the game to calm down, and at the end we
also talked," said Benitez. "The message on his shirt was
for his young son and his family, and he has told me that he
wishes to say sorry to the Newcastle fans. He hopes it is
not a problem. I do not think there will be any further
action, it was not a serious incident."
Benitez added: "For him it was really important to score, he
had been under a lot of pressure, and maybe his reaction was
understandable, after the celebrations he was just sorry
about what happened.
"We have talked, he wants to say sorry. He has been trying
for a long time to score and he had managed it, I suppose it
was a normal reaction.
"Raising his shirt showed a message to his family, maybe it
was a bad reaction afterwards but it was a moment in which
he was under pressure and he regrets it."
Benitez strikes the right note
By Damian Spellman - PA Sport
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has admitted his strikers
have given him a problem after discovering their goal touch.
The Reds had come under fire for struggling to score with
their expensively-assembled pool of frontmen enduring a
However, after seeing Robbie Fowler, Fernando Morientes and
Peter Crouch all get their names on the scoresheet against
Fulham in midweek, the Spaniard was delighted as Crouch and
Djibril Cisse struck in Sunday's 3-1 win at Newcastle.
"It's really important for them and also for the team to see
all the strikers scoring goals," he said.
"Now the problem is for me. All of them are scoring goals,
but it's a good problem and we will have more confidence for
the forthcoming games."
Benitez has been particularly pleased with the form of
England marksman Crouch after he suffered a difficult start
to his career at Anfield.
He turned in an excellent individual display at St James'
Park, scoring the first goal, setting up the second and
winning the penalty from which Cisse struck.
His manager was happy with his contribution even before the
"He was playing well," said Benitez. "He can keep the ball
and pass and win it in the air.
"We decided to sign Peter because in the English league,
it's really, really important to have a player like him."
Victory helped Liverpool to maintain the pressure on
Manchester United in second place - they are now only two
points adrift, although have played two more games - and was
all the more impressive as it came after the manager made
"If you want to win titles, you need a good squad," he said.
"That means you need good players who if you call upon them,
must be ready.
"We had a new system and they were aware. I am happy for me
as a manager and for them. That means they are really good
Benitez asked Stephen Warnock and Jan Kromkamp to play as
wing-backs, and it was a system Newcastle struggled to
handle as French defender Jean-Alain Boumsong
He allowed Crouch to head Liverpool in front after 10
minutes and when Steven Gerrard made it 2-0 10 minutes
before the break, it looked all over.
Shola Ameobi's 41st-minute header briefly gave the Magpies
hope, but Boumsong's dismissal within seven minutes of the
restart and Cisse's successful penalty clinched the points
and fully justified Benitez's tactical move.
"They have two good players up front, one good in the air
and the other one quick, and we tried to control them," he
"We used different players, Kromkamp and Warnock, in the
wide areas to go forward.
"We started the game really well with the movement of Harry
Kewell and Warnock going forward and we created a chance
with the first cross in the first minute."
content with system
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez feels the system he employed
against Newcastle proved a success and conceded he may use
it again in midweek.
Benitez dispensed with Liverpool's normal 4-4-2 formation to
operate with three central defenders and wing backs, with
the switch having worked well in a comfortable 3-1 victory.
Liverpool's assured display has given Benitez food for
thought ahead of Tuesday's FA Cup quarter final tie against
Birmingham and it could be that a similar system will be
"We're also thinking about the FA Cup," he told Sky Sports.
"After the sending off we were in control of the game and
there were two saves by their keeper (Shay Given) at the
"We've not been doing anything different but today we
changed the system.
''It's a possibility (to keep the system for the Birmingham
match) because today it was good.
"It's important for the team to have more confidence. The
strikers are good and if you create chances you can score."
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Glenn Roeder concedes Jean-Alain Boumsong's sending-off
gave his side a mountain they were never likely to climb
Newcastle lost 3-1 at St James' Park to an impressive
Liverpool but at one point, when Shola Ameobi netted to make
the game 2-1, Roeder's side looked that they might get back
into the game.
However, just five minutes into the second half and
Boumsong's horrendous defensive blunder gave Liverpool a
penalty and reduced Newcastle to ten men.
A routine ball from Liverpool's backline saw Boumsong
produce an air shot as he tried to repel it, then, with
Peter Crouch bearing down on goal the Frenchman dragged him
down for a penalty.
''He will be disappointed with that when he sees it again,''
Roeder told Sky Sports. ''The double whammy from that
incident is he gives a penalty away and gets sent off.
"In general players, when they make a mistake like that,
panic. You have to make a quick decision.
"He made a decision to try to rectify the error but ended up
giving a penalty away.
"I would suggest it is harder to score in open play than
from a penalty. I would probably have let him (Crouch) go.
"But he has to pick himself up, be a strong person and get
on with it."
Liverpool cruise as Toon lose
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Liverpool had too much for Newcastle at St James' Park as
they recorded a 3-1 win on their travels that puts them
within two points of Manchester United in second place.
Peter Crouch was the architect of much of their best work as
he scored the first, laid on the second for Steven Gerrard
and was hauled down for the third - a penalty from Djibril
Cisse - conceded by Jean-Alain Boumsong in an incident that
saw the Frenchman dismissed.
Newcastle looked to have fought their way back into the
contest when Shola Ameobi headed home with his side two
goals down just before half-time but Boumsong's defensive
howler and Liverpool's superior class came to the fore in
the second half.
Rafa Benitez had been busy pre-match in making six changes
to the side that demolished Fulham in midweek and with
alterations in personnel came a new formation as Liverpool
started with a back three flanked by wing-backs, as Stephen
Warnock caught the eye with several measured forays down the
It was Liverpool that started much the brighter and if the
marriage between Newcastle and Glenn Roeder showed the
occasional strain last weekend at Old Trafford, then the
honeymoon period was officially over just ten minutes in at
With Liverpool crisp in possession and Newcastle on the back
foot, Jan Kromkamp clipped an accurate ball to the back post
from deep on the right, Crouch found himself between the
ill-positioned Peter Ramage and Jean-Alain Boumsong and with
the simplest of headers registered from just inside the six
While Crouch has silenced his army of critics of late, Cisse
continues to frustrate and the Frenchman had Benitez rolling
his eyes on the touchline when after Kewell's ball was
played right across Newcastle's goal, his finish from the
angle showed an absolute dearth of composure.
With Newcastle struggling to find a foot-hold their front
pairing were being fed on scraps and from one such morsel,
Alan Shearer fired wide before Charles N'Zogbia forced a
parry from Jose Reina with a fizzing snapshot - his last
contribution before hobbling off to be replaced by Lee
Bowyer in the 25th minute.
Just five minutes later and Liverpool were in cruise control
as Gerrard grabbed his 19th goal of another productive
campaign with the most sumptuous of efforts. Cisse's raid
down the right ended with a looped cross to Newcastle's back
post that saw Gerrard cushion a header into the path of
Crouch, the lay-off was perfect and with a beautifully
controlled strike the England midfielder bent past Shay
Given from the edge of the area.
A comeback looked unlikely as Newcastle laboured but with
five minutes left to the break, another deep cross yielded
the game's third goal as Scott Parker's right wing delivery
found Ameobi on the penalty spot, with Liverpool's backline
pushed out hoping for an off-side. The flag did not come and
Ameobi planted his header over Reina.
Buoyed, the final chance of the half saw Boumsong glance a
header wide in what would prove to be his last positive
contribution of an afternoon best forgot.
It would take Liverpool just seven minutes after the restart
to re-assert their authority on proceedings as Boumsong's
moment of madness earned an all too familiar collective
groan from those in black and white.
A long ball from Liverpool's backline should have been
easily dealt with but an air shot allowed Crouch in round
the back and as the England striker made inroads, Boumsong
grappled him to the floor with all the cunning of a WWF
wrestler - that saw him not only concede a penalty but also
dismissed for the most unprofessional of professional fouls.
Cisse stepped up and finished calmly for Liverpool's third
before souring his moment somewhat by picking up a booking
for some ill-advised baiting of the home crowd.
Thereafter and it was a case of Liverpool inviting Newcastle
on and then breaking as Cisse blazed wide when he should
have crossed and then substitute Luis Garcia bent an effort
just past the post.
Shay Given then produced a sprawling save to deny another
substitute, Xabi Alonso, from registering with a fine strike
The Newcastle keeper again showed his agility in beating
away a Kromkamp shot late on but at the final whistle,
Benitez will have been more than content with three points
garnered from a polished display in the North East.