Nunez, Gakpo seal Liverpool win at 10-man Newcastle
Liverpool ended Newcastle United's 17-match unbeaten run in the Premier League through early goals by Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo that gave them a 2-0 win at St James' Park on Saturday.
Juergen Klopp's side caught Newcastle cold with a scintillating start and the stunned hosts were reduced to 10 men in the 22nd minute when goalkeeper Nick Pope was red-carded.
Fourth-placed Newcastle's only previous defeat in the league came against Liverpool at the end of August and they were up against it again when Nunez controlled a long pass by Trent Alexander Arnold to smash home in the 10th minute.
The goal was checked and cleared by VAR after a suspicion that the ball had hit Nunez's arm as he controlled it.
Gakpo doubled Liverpool's lead seven minutes later when he slotted in from a clever pass by Mohamed Salah for his second goal of the week after opening his account against Everton.
Pope was then caught out of his goal area by a long clearance from his opposite number Alisson and ended up grabbing the ball with his hand well outside his penalty area after initially attempting to head it.
Newcastle responded well and were denied by a mixture of the woodwork and Alisson, but the damage was already done.
Liverpool's second successive league win after a run of four games without one moved them up to eighth in the table with 35 points, six points behind Newcastle with a game in hand.
Newcastle's ambitions are coming under threat after only one win and five draws in their last seven league games and they could slip out of the top four on Sunday if Tottenham Hotspur beat West Ham United.
To add to Newcastle's woes they will be without first-choice keeper Pope for next week's League Cup final against Manchester United while Martin Dubravka, who came on to replace Pope, is not available for the Wembley clash as he is cup-tied.
While Newcastle will have an anxious week, Liverpool, who have Virgil van Dijk back after more than a month out, are beginning to look more like their old selves.
"The goals we scored were perfect against 11. We played really well, but then against 10 we lost for a moment the grip and couldn't get it back," Klopp said.
"But we still had our moments where we should have scored more in the second half. We are a step further forward."
Despite Saturday's setback, Newcastle could take a lot of credit from the game and were arguably the better side for long periods even when playing a man down.
Allan Saint-Maximin was denied by a superb save from Alisson who tipped his fierce drive against the woodwork while Dan Burn powered a header against the frame of the goal.
They continued to create chances in the second half when Fabian Schar headed across goal and Callum Wilson also missed.
"I thought they were clinical with their chances when they came and obviously Nick Pope's sending-off changed the game," Newcastle manager Eddie Howe said.
"I've not had a proper word with him but I've seen him and he looks visibly upset."