The Reds saw off Newcastle United but only after an inspired intervention from captain Steven Gerrard who arrived from the bench to drag the Reds forward. After a poor first half in which the Reds came from behind to be all square at the break we started the second half as poorly but after Steven Gerrard arrived we improved and were on the front foot at last. A great goal line clearance from Martin Skrtel at two one was a big help as well before the Reds captain scored his goal.
On a wet Friday night at Anfield the Reds had Jay Spearing come in to midfield in place of Maxi whilst Luis Suarez was forced to sit out of the match through his ban for the finger gesture at Fulham.
Pepe Reina lost the toss and was forced to attack the Kop in the first half. It wasn't the only thing that went wrong in the first half to be honest as the half was a bit hit and miss throughout. I don't know why but the players looked like they hadn't played together before and were unsure what each man would play. It all meant for a disjointed half from the Reds. Newcastle for their part looked a better side and passed it about a bit more but I have to say they didn't scare me to much at the business end of the pitch.
The other surprise for me was the Newcastle support was relatively small - though Friday night football at New Year is hardly the greatest time to travel.
Most of the eyes were on Andy Carroll who was playing his former club and also Jose Enrique of course who was also facing his old club too. It slipped minds that Bellamy was also facing his old club - they clearly forgot his quality as well throughout the game.
As the half went on we were really struggling to get a grip of the match with Tiote and Cabaye holding the midfield in the main. The place for us to go was down the wings except when we did and got in to a good crossing position we failed to actually flight the ball. A big centre forward in the box who likes a good header so we fire the ball two feet off the ground.
On twenty five minutes Newcastle went in to the lead as Cabaye met a cross to head on goal but with Reina moving across to try and make the save it changed direction off Agger and left the keeper helpless.
This finally woke us up a little although the thought of actually scoring twice at Anfield and winning this one was far from my mind at this point.
It only actually took us four minutes to equalise. In between Gutierrez was booked as he took out Johnson on the right wing.
The goal was Bellamy's as Newcastle failed to clear the ball properly. Enrique crossed from the left as Bellamy had pulled back and free in the box. It fell to the far post and Adam knocked it back in but it was half cleared to Bellamy and he rifled the ball home through about four players. That was exactly the response we needed and at least coming before half time meant we had something to build on.
The second half saw Newcastle bring on Davide Santon at left back for Ryan Taylor - the man Newcastle said was so much better than Enrique - didn't look it to me I'm afraid.
It wasn't the greatest start to the second half by us either as Newcastle passed the ball all across the pitch with us seemingly chasing shadows. For all that effort though Agger and Skrtel were always in control of Ba and Vukcic at the back.
Just short of the hour mark and the Reds made a switch with Steven Gerrard replacing Charlie Adam in midfield. It proved a crucial switch as well with Spearing mopping everything up and Gerrard dictating the passing and moving. Every player seemed to raise their game suddenly and it gradually saw the game being played in their half and not ours.
Suddenly Andy Carroll started to get service in the box and service with quality as well - i.e near his head and that helped to cheer the crowd up a bit.
The second goal came on sixty seven minutes through Craig Bellamy and it was rather bizarre. Daniel Agger strode forward with the ball from defence for the umpteenth time in the game and was dribbling beyond everyone when he went over near Tiote. I have to say I thought he had fallen over but the ref gave a free kick. I've seen it again since and there was some contact but perhaps a bit soft. It's about time we got that rub of the green though.
The free kick itself was some twenty five plus yards from goal though and Craig Bellamy spotted the ball up. As he was shaping to take the kick Simpson went back to goal so Carroll dropped in as well but as he changed his mind again Bellamy took the kick and in the confusion Simpson and Krul got in each others was and the ball flew straight in. A well taken free kick and took full advantage of the confusion they caused themselves.
A couple of minutes after the goal Ba beat the offside trap and bore in on goal. He managed to flick it past Reina and to the goal but just as it was reaching the goal Skrtel flung his leg out and managed to clear the ball before flying in to the back of the back of the net. Skrtel was shaken but after getting back up was given a big pat on the back from Reina who had gone down a little early and got beaten.
On seventy one minutes Gerrard whipped in a great cross and Carroll got up only to see his header smash off the bar. As the ball fell in the area Coloccini and Bellamy came together and Bellamy came off worst. I missed the incident at the time and only saw him on the floor but I've seen it since and the defender certainly knew were the Reds striker was when he put his arm up. Bellamy came off badly and clearly had blood coming from his eye when he walked off. Rather than await stitches the Reds threw on Dirk Kuyt in his place.
For his part I thought Kuyt did well and looked like he wanted to prove his worth in the side and he certainly did that for me as he helped the sides forward play.
The Reds then made it three one on seventy seven minutes when Spearing fed Henderson and he in turn played the killer ball through to Gerrard and after he looked to have taken one too many touches he sent the ball through Krul's legs to round off the night well. He had not only come on and inspired us but wrapped up the scoring.
As the clock ticked on their was only ever going to be one side who scored again and it was the Reds. Glen Johnson had two efforts although neither went close - his first actually went out for a throw.
The one other point worth making from the second half as well was a flash point which the ref missed and looked clueless about. Spearing slid in to win a ball and Cabaye clearly took a hack at Spearing. Spearing went down and the Reds players charged at the ref incensed at what they had seen. Lee Probert though seemed to be the only one not to have seen it and despite being surrounded by players was playing on at the time. I've seen a replay after the game of the tackle and I have to say It'll be interesting if the FA follow this one up because it's a stamping offence for me - let's see if everything is fair now.
As the final whistle went the Reds could be glad of rounding the year off with a hard fought but convincing win.
MotM : Steven Gerrard - his introduction inspired the team to better things and it was only after he arrived that we grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and won.