Liverpool managed to hold on for a score draw in this game after being heavily under the cosh. The Reds scored early and then tried to hold on to their lead. Newcastle produced an excellent second half display but could only score once from the penalty spot.
The Reds were forced into at least one change with the absence of Harry Kewell to injury. Danny Murphy took his place with El Hadji Diouf playing on the opposite side. Jon Otsemobor retained his place after impressing in midweek.
The Reds got the game underway at St James' Park but found themselves under pressure from the start with Newcastle forcing a corner inside the first minute although they dealt with it comfortably. The Reds though went a goal up on six minutes from Danny Murphy. John Arne Riise lofted a ball over from halfway towards the edge of the area for Pongolle. Both Bramble and Woodgate went for the ball in the air and collided with one another in the air and missed the flight of the ball. The ball sailed over them and Murphy charged on to the loose ball by heading it down and then poked the ball past Given as he charged out. A dream start really.
The Reds started to really control the game after the goal with Hamann breaking everything u that Newcastle had to offer. The one downside was that the Reds didn't really threaten much up front. The next real chance of note came midway through the half and it fell Newcastle's way. Ameobi crossed in to Speed but his first touch was heavy and Kirkland managed to get out and smother his shot cross to safety.
That attack really woke Newcastle up and they started to create a bit of pressure on the Reds. Jenas had a shot from 25 yards out easily saved on twenty eight minutes. Otsemobor picked up a yellow card on his debut a minute later as he brought Robert down a little late.
The Reds nearly went two up on thirty six minutes following a free kick on the left side from Murphy. He flicked the ball over dangerously which Pongolle just missed out on. Woodgate got a touch on the ball though and his header went just past the far post and out for a corner which the Reds wasted. Two minutes later and at the other end Kirkland was out superbly well to deny Ameobi a scoring chance as he sprang the offside trap.
The second half got underway with the Reds still in front and looking relatively comfortable. United switched Solano for Hughes at the interval. Emile Heskey played Pongolle in on goal four minute in to the half but from a left side placing his shot was well saved and parried by Given. Pongolle chased the loose ball down though and crossed it to the far post where Gerrard had ran in. His volley was well saved by Given though and the danger went.
The Reds made their only switch on fifty one minutes as Pongolle went off for Smicer. The game went very one way at this point as Newcastle poured forward with pressure. Riise was alert to head a ball out as Shearer sneaked in at the back post on fifty four minutes. Two minutes later Ameobi got some space outside the box and twisted one way and then thankfully for the Reds twisted back again which allowed Biscan a chance to intercept and clear for the Reds.
Ameobi was again involved a minute later as he won a free kick on the edge of the box. Kirkland set his wall up but Robert bent the kick around it and everyone stood gazing as the ball looked to be heading for the back of the net. Somehow though it sailed round the post and out to safety. It was the warning that a goal was on its way.
It came just five minutes later from the penalty spot. Dyer played a ball round the back of the defence for Robert to run on to. He got to the ball and as Kirkland came out to challenge he brought the French winger down and the referee pointed to the spot. Kirkland was incensed and talked his way to a yellow card before returning to try and stop Shearer from scoring. There was no save though as Shearer rattled the ball home off the underside of the bar.
Newcastle were on top now and looking to go on and win the game. Four minutes after equalising Jenas should have done better when Shearer nodded a great ball down for him. He controlled it and then missed his kick from twelve yards. Dietmar Hamann picked up a very harsh booking on sixty seven minutes after he slid and and won the ball. The ref adjudged him to bring Bernard down though and booked him. Diouf followed him into the book three minutes later as he bundled through on Bernard near the half line.
On seventy one minutes the Reds twice cleared from the line as Newcastle created a glorious chance. First Riise was on hand to head clear just in front of the goal and as the Reds cleared the ball for a corner it was Murphy who then cleared off the line from a shot.
The Reds had one decent chance really in the second half and it fell to Smicer who outmuscled Bramble from a long ball forward from Gerrard. Smicer won the ball out on the right side and raced in to the area but from a tight angle couldn't finish as he was faced with Given and Woodgate. Bramble picked up a yellow card with eleven minutes to go and the Reds started to come back in to the game near the end as Newcastle started to lack ideas for a winner.
Chris Kirkland pulled off a superb save with just five minutes left on the clock as Shearer looked to finish a Dyer cross. Kirkland stood up well and palmed his shot high over the bar as he looked to win the game for the home side.
Overall the Reds weathered the storm and got a point with which they would have been happy with before the game started. They took the lead early but couldn't hold the lead long enough. The substituion of Pongolle seemed harsh as the young French kid had played well up frnt fighting for scraps as the Reds tended to pack five into midfield. Otsemobor did well at right back for his league debut as well.
MotM : Dietmar Hamann - typical Hamann performance in which he broke everything up and did the simple things well. Without him the Reds may well have conceded more pressure with which they may have cracked.