Brilliant Baros scores at Anfield.
Reds need to stay switched on
Analysis by David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
One of the downsides of adopting a new, more
adventurous attacking policy is that more than
occasionally you are forced to come from behind.
Fortunately for Liverpool, they are proving increasingly
adept at the art.
The turn-around success against Manchester City in
August ended a five-year wait for Liverpool to come from
behind at Anfield.
A comeback at Fulham in October ended a 13-year wait
away from home, then on Saturday the Reds showed they
are getting even better at this kind of thing.
It took them just six minutes to overturn Patrick
Kluivert's shock opener. I say 'shock' because Newcastle
hadn't looked like scoring before then, and the Dutchman
took advantage of the leniency of the new 'active' zones
offside rule application to score.
Of course Rafa Benitez won't be totally happy until his
Reds can play without the pressure of chasing a deficit,
but it's now been an uneasy 11 matches since they
celebrated a clean sheet. It's only happened three times
in the Premiership all season.
So while Rafa Benitez chases new strikers around Europe,
he'll also be thinking of ways to stem the goals
Paradoxically, the central defensive axis of Hyypia and
Carragher has been one of Liverpool's more reliable
departments this season. Goalkeeper and full-backs, on
the other hand, haven't.
But the old Anfield maxim is you defend as a team, so
collective responsibility has to be assumed.
The balance has clearly not been right, although
yesterday's reversion to a 4-4-2 system looked
Steven Gerrard was able to operate in the area where he
operates best, which is not on Neil Mellor's shoulder;
the young striker proved a more than willing strike
partner for Milan Baros.
Baros ran tirelessly - which he always does - then even
looked up and picked out a goal-creating pass - which he
doesn't do as often.
All in all, it was a reassuring day for Anfielders -
especially with the less than frightening prospect of
West Brom and Southampton next.
Even Liverpool's gate was back up to a healthy 43,856.
But if Reds' officials are actively seeking reasons for
the poor turnout against Portsmouth in midweek, perhaps
they should examine the contributions they have banked
from Sky in recent weeks.
Saturday's visit of Newcastle was one of 13 successive
Liverpool matches to be screened live on TV. Yes, that's
13 times a fan could switch on his screen at the most
expensive time of the year and watch a Liverpool match
in its entirety, without so much as raising his or her
backside from an armchair.
That is an astonishing tally, which includes such
can't-miss Anfield spectaculars as relegationthreatened
Southampton, managerless and charisma-less Portsmouth
and First Division Watford.
The consolation is in the region of a more than
But you can't have it all ways . . .
Mellor: My Anfield goal
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Neil Mellor hopes his Liverpool goal burst has
finally erased doubts about his ability at the highest
level of English football.
The 22-year-old notched up his fifth goal in 11
appearances for the club - including just six starts -
to help the Reds to a vital 3-1 win over Newcastle.
With Liverpool set to sign another striker in January,
Mellor knows he has to make the most of his chances.
After another crucial strike at The Kop end, the
youngster admitted he'd shocked himself with the speed
at which he's adapted to life in the Premiership.
He said: "I'm hoping I'm taking my chance with both
hands. The fans and players have been really good to me
since I came into the side and I just want to get out
there and keep scoring.
"I've surprised myself a little with how well it's gone.
I know I did well in the reserves and I've just tried to
take the same attitude into the first team, believing I
will score in every match.
"I know I've got a few critics because of the style of
my play but that doesn't bother me. I'm just going to
keep on getting in there and getting on the end of
chances, and hopefully putting them away.
"I can't change the way I am. It's not a problem what
anyone else thinks. I'm a goalscorer, so for me it's all
about getting in the box and taking chances."
Liverpool have reduced the gap between themselves and
fourth spot to six points and will be looking for
maximum points over Christmas.
Mellor continued: "It's pleasing to get another goal in
the Premiership, but it was more important we bounced
back after the defeat to Everton and disappointing
result against Portsmouth.
"We have to build on this over Christmas. It's always an
important period and we must try and close that gap."
Baros favours two strikers
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Milan Baros admitted that he preferred playing with a
strike partner after Liverpool's 3-1 win over Newcastle,
but said the most important thing was to win.
Reds boss Rafa Benitez has favoured a 4-5-1 formation at
times this season - as in the 1-1 draw with Portsmouth
Neil Mellor played against The Magpies at Anfield on
Sunday and The Reds bossed most of the match to win 3-1.
Baros was in inspired form and he admitted that playing
a 4-4-2 suited him better.
"It's always better to play with two strikers because
you have more space, and it's more difficult when you
play just one against four defenders," Baros told
"You can play well, you get to keep the ball more and
you get more chances to score goals."
"I think you can play more attacking football when you
play 4-4-2, but it's not my decision, it's up to the
"If he wants to play 4-5-1 we will respect him and do
our best, if he wants 4-4-2 then we respect that too.
"What was important was that we wanted three points
today and we got it so that's great - it wasn't easy but
we got the result which is great."
Newcastle boss Graeme Souness has confirmed he has
received a letter of complaint from the Ritz Hotel in
London about the behaviour of some of his players.
The Mayfair hotel was allegedly the venue for a group of
Newcastle players to stage a pre-Christmas party.
Their behaviour resulted in hotel staff writing to the
Newcastle club to complain.
Souness, after his side's 3-1 defeat at Liverpool, said:
"I received that letter, and I am not going to tell
anyone what was in it.
"They are boys, it was their day off and I am not going
to comment on it any further."
It is believed the incident in question took place three
Asked whether the behaviour had just been "over
boisterous", Souness agreed, and said: "Good, they are
Souness was angry about the performance of his side at
Anfield, saying: "We have had words, it wasn't a
shouting match and was civilised. Probably a bit too
civilised for my liking."
He added: "We made a decent start and took the lead.
They cancelled that out with an own goal and a goal that
stemmed from a ball straight down the middle of our
"That happened again in the second half and you do not
often see goals like that scored in the Premiership,
straight passes being turned into goals.
"At 3-1 we had a chance to get back into the game when
Jermaine Jenas missed a good chance, and then came Lee
Bowyer's sending-off. I can't defend that, it was an
obvious red card and he let down his team-mates."
delighted with Toon performance
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez said he was delighted with the
performance of his side during the 3-1 win against
Newcastle and praised the players for their hard work
and good play.
Benitez felt Liverpool kept the ball well and thoroughly
deserved the three points and praised strikers Milan
Baros and Neil Mellor for their hard work for the team
Benitez said: "I am delighted the way we won playing
with a good intensity and attacking mentality. We kept
the ball and passed it well and the strikers worked hard
"Baros ran the line well and was always a danger and
Mellor works very hard. He scores goals and it's
important he plays well for the team which he and Baros
"For us this was a very important game to win after the
last two matches. It was important to score quickly
after condeding which we did.
"We showed a very good character and we controlled the
game. We decided to play with a very offensive team
today and we had six players with attacking mentality.
It's important that when you score you look for the
second and third goal."
The Liverpool manager also said he was delighted with
the contribution of Harry Kewell who created the third
goal for Baros with a marvellous through ball.
Benitez said: "Kewell has played well the last four to
five games and I have a lot of confidence in him. He has
trained very well and he has a very good mentality.
"Kewell is a fantastic player who I would call a
complete player. He wasn't fit at the start of the
season but he is getting better and stronger and that is
important for the team."
Reds too strong for Toon
Liverpool kept their dreams of a top-four finish
alive with a convincing victory over an increasingly
The Geordies lost Craig Bellamy, injured in the warm-up,
and had Lee Bowyer sent off for a second yellow card
with eight minutes left. Titus Bramble had earlier
contributed to their downfall as well with an own goal
just seconds after Newcastle took an early lead through
With some of their players linked with another hotel
incident in the morning papers, the day just got worse
for their manager Graeme Souness on his return to a
stadium he once graced as a player.
Liverpool clicked into gear after that shock early goal
by Kluivert and were ahead at the break through Neil
Mellor's fifth goal of the season.
Liverpool were increasingly dominant in the second half
and they topped off a fine display with a stunning third
goal from Milan Baros which compounded Souness' misery.
His team are stuck in the bottom half of the table
seemingly without a hope of mounting a challenge for a
Champions League spot themselves, something Reds boss
Rafael Benitez insists is a genuine target for
That boast does not seem too outlandish after this
Newcastle lost Bellamy in the warm-up with a recurrence
of his back injury, leaving Kluivert to take over up
For Liverpool, Spanish midfielder Luis Garcia returned
after missing six games with a hamstring injury.
The loss of Bellamy clearly unsettled Newcastle right
from the start, with Liverpool powering towards them,
and the home side should have been ahead on two minutes
when Baros fought his way to the byline and laid on an
easy chance for Luis Garcia six yards out. But the
little Spaniard managed to hammer his effort high into
Referee Graham Poll, who took centre stage with his
decisions last weekend at Arsenal, was again at the
heart of the action, firstly not penalising Bramble for
sending Baros spinning onto the track and then seconds
later giving a free-kick for a debatable challenge on
But it was still Liverpool taking the initiative, and
Steven Gerrard went close when he cut in from the left
and found space for a right-foot drive from 20 yards
which flashed past Shay Given's right-hand post.
Luis Garcia, after being out for so long, was a touch
short of the pace of the game and conceded possession in
midfield in the run-up to Newcastle taking the lead.
Kieron Dyer's pass into space sent Bowyer tearing into
the box to neatly set up Kluivert to fire home from six
yards, even if there was a hint of offside in the
The response was a 35-yard shot from John Arne Riise
that flashed just wide, and the hosts were level two
minutes after Newcastle had gone ahead.
Gerrard swung a corner in from the left and under
pressure from Sami Hyypia, Bramble deflected the ball
into his own net.
It got even better for Liverpool three minutes later.
Baros turned Robbie Elliott easily 30 yards out and the
Czech then threaded a clever pass into Mellor, who
coolly slotted the ball past Given from 12 yards.
Baros had a goal ruled out for a foul on Given as
Liverpool stepped up the pace. Bowyer and Elliott were
both booked as they struggled to contain Harry Kewell
and Xabi Alonso.
But in the 61st minute Liverpool scored a very special
goal in which Kewell gave a rare flash of his
Hyypia won possession in his own half and fed the
Australian, who fed the ball into Baros' path with
stunning quality. Baros raced away before rounding Given
and placing the ball into an empty net.
Jermaine Jenas missed a great chance to cut the deficit
back to one goal as he skied an effort over the
crossbar, before Jerzy Dudek saved superbly from a
Laurent Robert free-kick.
The Reds sent on Antonio Nunez and Florent
Sinama-Pongolle, and the French teenager's first
involvement was to be sent crashing to the ground by
Bowyer, who was issued his second yellow card and then
the red by Poll, Newcastle by now totally dispirited.